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There’s always been a certain, indefinable spark with Helen Dwyer, a strong undercurrent of mischief, that we here at GG could never quite fathom.

Where did such a fine lady-about-town get this twinkle, this readiness to laugh, this eagerness to add some curry powder to other people’s meals?

And then we found out. Helen is from The People’s Republic of Cork.

West Cork, in fact, deep in the toe of the country, on the Beara Peninsula, in a rather wonderful little town called Allihies.

It’s a town GG is very familiar with, given that we have a brother doing 25-to-life down there, in nearby Castletownberehaven. If you’ve ever spent more than a day down West Cork way – which is about a minute in local time – you’ll understand where Helen Dwyer is coming from. And where she’s going.

Alongside her rock of a husband, Dermod, the two have been the driving force behind The Caroline Foundation, founded in memory of their daughter, who passed away, aged 35, on March 23rd, 2013, after a nine-year battle with that asshole disease, cancer. Raising money for the Cancer Clinical Research Trust, the Caroline Foundation always bring the fun to fundraising, whether it’s getting us all to bring our thousands of teddies to the beach, hold a dirty big ribbon along the Cliff Walk or just put on a silly sailor’s hat. Along the way, two Guinness World records have been achieved, and, more importantly, over €400,000 has been raised for cancer research here in Ireland.

But what of the lady herself? Well, given that we don’t know Helen all the well, we got her hubby to fill in a few blanks for us. Such as the fact that, having qualified as a primary school teacher, Helen taught in Middleton and West Cork before heading off to South America, eventually landing in Peru. Upon her return, Helen took up teaching posts in Newtownmountkennedy and, later, St Cronin’s National School in Bray. Five years as the first Lady Principal at The Dominicans’ Primary School in Wicklow Town saw Helen being seconded to the Department of Education, which was soon followed by the position of Assistant Professor in Leadership And Management at the Trinity College School of Education.

Which basically means that we’re dealing with one smart cookie here. One really, really smart cookie.

Outside of flexing that incredible brain of hers, Helen likes to flex her muscles too, having been a member of the Greystones Tennis Club for years, and is now brightening up the town’s always-thriving golf scene.

Dermod did also mention Helen’s six years in a Mexican prison, her love of guns and the now-outlawed bike gang she founded in the 1980s, but we thought it best not to include such details. Helen has learnt from her mistakes, and her probation officer couldn’t be prouder of how far she’s come.

So, instead, we’ll say, here’s to you, young Helen – you’re living proof that love, and laughter, will always endure. Even in prison.

You can find out more about – and donate to – The Caroline Foundation here, and get the lowdown on their latest laugh-in, Give Us A Song, happening Feb 4th, right about here. And here. And here.

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