RTÉ ONE: “In The Name of the Son”

by Gazette Reporter
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A new documentary from the award-winning production team at Bang Bang Teo In The Name of the Son will be broadcast on RTÉ One on Thursday March 23rd at 10.15pm.

The hour-long documentary captures the resilience, strength, vision and love of a remarkable Kerry woman Mags Riordan – from tragedies that beset her in life to her ongoing inspirational work in Malawi, where she has set up a clinic to treat thousands of patients a month for AIDS and other prevalent diseases, named in memory of her son who tragically drowned there on holidays.

Mags Riordan couldn’t have been dealt a worse hand in life. Her 4-month-old baby daughter Niamh died in a tragic accident in 1974 when the family car rolled off the pier in their hometown of Dingle. Two years later in 1976 her young son Luke died of a cot death. And if that wasn’t enough, there was more to come in 1999. Her son Billy, a keen traveler and thrill seeker was on holiday in Cape Maclear at Lake Malawi, when he died in an evening swimming accident.

Billy Riordan

Mags Riordan was struck by a catalogue of disasters that could have completely broken her – and she was very nearly broken and close to giving up. Instead, in 2000, one year after Billy’s death, she made the journey to Cape Maclear, Malawi to lay a memorial stone in his name close to where he drowned. She stayed in the area for a couple of months, volunteering as a teacher and she began to understand what her son had told her about finding paradise in one of the most beautiful places in Africa.

However, she also saw how that paradise was tainted by poverty, disease, a lack of available healthcare and education. She felt inextricably drawn to the place and returned every year afterwards until in 2003 she set up a clinic in her son’s name: The Billy Riordan Memorial Clinic. The clinic was founded on the goodwill of people – many of them at home in Kerry – and continues to survive and thrive solely on goodwill. Mags currently splits her time between her home in Kerry and Malawi.

The clinic is unique in its individuality and has never been granted annual funding from Irish Aid, even after President Michael D. Higgins highly praised the success of the clinic on his visit to Malawi in 2017. Each year, Mags struggles to raise the €150,000 needed to keep the place running. The ever-expanding clinic has saved thousands of lives and now Mags is looking at setting up a maternity unit and dental clinic and has no intention of stopping until it becomes a fully-fledged hospital. They treat 1,800 people a month for AIDS, 3,000 children a year for Bilharzia, hundreds for Malaria and other prevalent diseases.

The story of Mags’ life is ever-changing – new challenges emerge every day. If it weren’t for Billy and the loss of her other children the last 20 years of her life would have been totally different. She remains determined to give her son a positive, lasting legacy. What is surprising is how a story of this magnitude has remained untold.

Mags is a unique person. Her story will resonate with so many people who are in the darkest depths of despair and who need a helping hand to turn their lives around. She is a true example of how the power of the human spirit can help to overcome the most unimaginable tragedies and turn them into something incredibly positive. This documentary captures this remarkable Kerry woman’s life. In The Name Of The Son is produced and directed by film and documentary maker Mark McLoughlin of Bang Bang Teo and was filmed in Kerry and Cape Maclear, Malawi. A book called This Is Paradise has also been written about Mags Riordan’s story.

If anyone would like to donate to this project please go to www.billysmalawiproject.org.

Dublin Gazette – Digital Edition – March 23, 2023 – Dublin Gazette Newspapers – Dublin News, Sport and LifestyleCLICK ON LINK TO READ MORE IN THIS WEEKS DIGITAL EDITION

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