Family Carers Ireland are David Brophy’s new ‘Unsung Heroes’ for RTÉ Documentary

Family Carers Ireland is proud to announce the airing of a heartfelt, two-part documentary on RTÉ One highlighting the hidden heroes of our society – family carers.

The programme, due to air on RTÉ One on Wednesday 3rd and 10th June at 9.35 pm, tracks the choir’s journey from a group of over 60 individual family carers coming together for the first time to a transformed, confident and unified choir. It also delves deeper into the lives of choir members and the highs and lows of their caring roles.

The choir was filmed over a six-month period tracking their progress while shining a light on family carers and their stories with Ireland’s world-renowned conductor and choirmaster David Brophy. David spends 24 hours in the home of family carer Jane Johnstone who cares for her two boys Evan and Daniel, both of whom have autism, to gain a greater insight into the life of a family carer. Meeting with carers during the making of the programme made a deep impression of David.

“Does anyone see carers?” asks David Brophy. “They walk around our country incognito, every day. It’s impossible to recognise them but we are surrounded by them.”

Throughout the documentary, we meet inspirational family carers including Betty and Phil Power who care for their beloved son Jason who has cerebral palsy. Seventeen year old Matthew McCartin, the youngest member of the choir and one of Ireland’s 56,000 young carers, talks about helping his mother Martina care for his dad Eddie who has dementia and Parkinson’s. Matthew is a remarkable young man with a huge heart and has been caring since he was five years old.

Family carer Hannah Power (69) speaks candidly about caring for her husband of 48 years, Patrick (70) who has Alzheimer’s and what the choir has meant to her:
“I never thought at this stage of my life I would find or get what I’m getting from this choir. Everybody’s eyes are smiling now… When you are dealing with the person you are looking after, you are not always smiling.”

Every family carer in the choir has their own story and whilst they may sometimes feel weak standing on their own, together they are powerful. The choir has brought this group together not just to sing but to share experiences, form life-long friendships and provide shoulders to lean on. It has given them a collective strength and we get to see them as warriors with one strong voice.

Meeting Music Legends

Highlights include the choir meeting and singing with music legends John Spillane, Christy Dignam, Eleanor McEvoy and Gavin James and performing at the National Opera House. When the choir told Christy of the resonance of the lyrics in Aslan’s anthem ‘Crazy World’, he said “when someone connects with a song like that, that’s better than having a number one record.” Wexford hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald also visited the choir during one of their practice sessions for a motivational talk before their big performance.

Catherine Cox, Family Carers Ireland’s Head of Communications and Carer Engagement said,

“This programme is honest, moving, thought-provoking and incredibly inspiring, shining a light on Ireland’s 355,000 family carers as warriors who care out of love, not duty.
But they cannot do it alone. Family carers need support to care for their loved ones. They need respite, training, in-home support, access to vital therapies such as speech and language, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and behavioural therapy for the people they care for. No one should have to care alone.”