herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Meet the Mahers - 13 kids and a €3,000 bill to get them all ready for school

Paul and Edel with their 13 kids ahead of the new school year. Photo: Tom Conachy
Paul and Edel with their 13 kids ahead of the new school year. Photo: Tom Conachy

One family has it tougher than most when it comes to getting ready for the new school year - with all 13 of their children in education for the first time.

The Maher family, originally from Dublin but now living in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, say they use a "military-style" operation in order to get the kids to school on time each morning.

But the school books, uniforms and stationery come at a significant cost - as dad Paul (42) and mum Edel (43) have had to fork out €3,000 on school supplies for the coming year.

This is the first year that all their kids will be in education, with the eldest now at college and the youngest set to begin pre-school.

"It's the first time in our marriage that we'll have four hours free in the morning," said Paul, who works in the Dublin Airport Police.

Eoin (18) will be going to DCU, while Cian (16), Darragh (15), Cathal (14) and Conor (12) will be in secondary school.

Twins Odhran and Oisin (11), Fionn (10), Aisling (9), Cillian (7), Sadhbh (6) and Caoimhe (4) will be in primary, with Daithi (3) in playschool.

They will join thousands of children from around the country who will return to schools from today for the new academic year.

Ironing

Mr Maher said the family will be ready to hit the ground running next Monday morning, when the majority of them go back to school.

There will be almost 20 new shirts that will need ironing on Sunday night - and don't forget all the lunches that need to be prepared too.

"I'd say in total we probably bought in around 18 new shirts and then the trousers and skirts too," Mr Maher told the Herald.

"If the uniform is in good nick, it can be passed on to the younger ones. The schoolbags you're looking at replacing every two to three years."

On getting all the children ready on a school day, he added: "All the leg work is completed the night before. All the lunches and schoolbags would be lined up for everyone the night before school.

"We couldn't function as a family if everyone was looking for a shirt or a tie in the morning.

"Everyone knows exactly where everything is, it's like a military operation. The kids do get involved [in making lunches] too.

"It's the same as any other year, just organised panic."

But, when it comes to getting to school, there's even more work involved, as the Mahers don't live far enough away to qualify for the school bus scheme.

While at one stage the family had a minibus, they sold it as it became too expensive to run.

"It's now a case of three car-runs each day to make sure all the kids are catered for," said Mr Maher.

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