Sixty-five Roses – a storybook with a difference

A surprise diagnosis and a feeling of being overwhelmed led to two Kildare mums penning a wonderful new book to help families of children born with Cystic Fibrosis.

‘Sixty-Five Roses’ aims to help siblings, relatives and friends better support the person with CF in their lives, while also giving comfort to parents at a very difficult and challenging time.

“In October of last year, I was incredibly lucky to give birth to the most wonderful baby girl, my beautiful daughter Aibhín. Three weeks after she was born, I received a phone call from Tallaght Hospital in Dublin, asking me to bring my daughter in to meet a doctor the following morning, as they were worried that she might have Cystic Fibrosis, based on her heel prick test results – and they were right,” explained primary school teacher Eilís Moroney, from Celbridge.

“The past few months have been understandably challenging. I was recovering from a very difficult birth when we received Aibhín’s diagnosis, and I was also so fraught with worry for my gorgeous girl, as I was literally terrified of what was ahead.

“I searched high and low for books to put my mind at ease with our new news, and to help explain our situation to my doting niece and nephew, but it was to no avail. There was nothing out there to help families take the fear out of a chronic illness diagnosis, especially when it is given to a tiny three week old baby – so I wrote my own story.”

The book, which was part-funded by Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, tells the story of a baby girl through the eyes of her big brother and his best friend, Baxter the dog. The new-born has just been diagnosed with CF, and the story tells us about the medications she has to take, the daily physiotherapy sessions, and the changes to her diet. We also get to know her friendly and caring medical team who protect her ‘Sixty-Five Roses’, which is often the first way children pronounce Cystic Fibrosis.

Cystic Fibrosis Ireland loved the storybook so much so that they sponsored the publishing of the book and are giving a storybook to all families of newly diagnosed CF babies. “It hasn’t been an easy journey and I hope this book helps others to learn from our experience.

The words and pictures gently explain a day in the life of a baby with CF, and offer ways in which the entire family can get involved with physiotherapy and ensuring germ control through hand washing, and so on. I hope that our book will go some way to help remove the paralysing fear of a CF diagnosis for families and help people to see the bigger picture. Nobody should be defined by a medical condition that they may have.

She teamed up with illustrator Ruth Cahill, who has worked so diligently alongside her, and is also the mother of a CF boy.

“Ruth and I were frustrated as parents at the lack of appropriate, modern and inspirational literary material available for all CF children and their families, and in particular with those families who receive a diagnosis from/shortly after their child’s birth. From my experience of CF so far, everyone I know knows someone with CF. We hope the book could also be a way of raising awareness of the medical condition.”

65 Roses image 1

For Ruth, who lives in Maynooth, the book is about showing that there is more to life than Cystic Fibrosis.

“Both Eilís and myself have experienced our first-born child being given a CF diagnosis. Being a parent for the first time is hard enough and, with a CF diagnosis, it is even more challenging and scary. My own son, Harry, was diagnosed with CF in 2009 and for the first few years, I felt very lost. I yearned for the life that I dreamed my child would have, and, of course, the life that we as a family would have,” she said.

“But looking back, it is clear to me now that there is more to life than CF. We need to support our children in living their lives to the full and give that confidence to other parents. For those who might be overwhelmed with worry for their newly-diagnosed baby, we want them to know that they are not alone. With this book, we hope that families will realise the many wonderful talents, dreams and gifts that their children have to offer and will achieve.”

Eilís stressed that they wanted to take the stigma out of such a scary diagnosis, and help families deal head on with it, and to see ways in which CF can become a fun part of a family’s day. “It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. And most importantly, it helps people to disassociate a diagnosis from an individual – something which is very hard for a parent to do at the start,” she said.

“Aibhín is eight months old now and I am so grateful to be able to say that she is doing really mighty!! She is my first child, so it is also safe to say that she is the apple of my eye!” She praised the heel prick test as a wonderful thing, and said she was ‘so, so grateful’ that Aibhín’s diagnosis was picked up so quickly.

65 Roses image 2

The book is on sale in Dubray Books, Sensational Kids in Newbridge and it’s also currently available to buy online on Amazon, Waterstones, The Book Depository and Foyles Books.

(This piece appeared originally on the HSE website )

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  • How to set up parental controls on devices
I thought it may be useful to share the link to the guide - - which you can include on your website ahead of Safer Internet Day, to help parents and children who may need some extra support. We've also put together some handy top tips you can use on your website: 10 tips to keep your children safe online
  1. Talk about it:Make time to chat about online risks and how to use the internet safelyas soon as they're old enough to go online. Encourage your children to speak to you about what they view online and empower them to act if they're worried about anything.
  2. Recognise the risks: Educate yourself about the potential dangers children could face online so  it’s easier to spot warning signs. Get to know what platforms your children use, and learn about dangers such as phishing, grooming and cyberbullying.
  3. Teach the do's and don'ts: Be clear about the non-negotiables.  For example, teach your child not to share personal details or photos with strangers and instruct them not to click on links to unknown websites or texts. Do encourage your child to question what they see and only accept friend requests from people they know.
  4. Spot the signs: Pay attention to your children's behaviour whilst on and off their devices. Being alert to changes in your child can help prevent problems from escalating. Some warning signs are withdrawing from friends or family, sleeping and eating problems or losing interest in previously loved hobbies or interests.
  5. Set boundaries:Let your children know what they can and can't do on the internet from the get-go. Agree on what devices they can use, when, and how long they can spend online. As they get older, explaining and negotiating boundaries may be more effective.
  6. Take 'parental' control: These ready-made boundaries put parents in control of what children can see online. They can be set up through your internet provider at device level to block specific websites and filter out inappropriate content.
  7. Be social media savvy:  The popularity of social media apps like TikTok and Snapchat makes it harder to keep track of what your child is accessing online.  Fortunately, each social media platform has its own privacy settings and safety tips for parents. Check them out before you let children have their own accounts.
  8. Protect from harm:Install antivirus software on family devices to minimise the risk of cyber attacks or scams. Use two-factor authentication (2FA) for extra security on your online accounts. This can also stop children from signing into services they're not allowed to use.
  9. Set a great example:  You're the greatest 'influencer' in your children's lives when they're young.  Limiting your time online, discussing dangers you've come across, and questioning what you view can help reinforce the rules you are setting for your children and, in turn, influence their online behaviour.
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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

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Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.


The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books ( and also on  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.


In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  


Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  


In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

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