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Meet the Family

The O'Neill-O'Connor Family Image Name: The O'Neill-O'Connor Family Description: Meet the Family Copyright: © RTÉ Stills Library RTÉ. This image may be reproduced in print or electronic format for promotional purposes only. Any further use of this image must be re-negotiated separately with RTÉ. Use is subject to a fee to be agreed according to the current RTÉ Stills Library rate card.

Home schooling, home birthing, home building’…for the O’Connor-O’Neill family from Tullow, Co. Carlow – home is definitely where the heart is.

This week’s Meet the Family features a couple who are rearing their children with an emphasis on self-sufficiency – the children (bar the eldest) were all born at home and they are all taught at home. Dad Eddie built the house they live in and they hope that one day that their vegetable plot will be big enough to feed the entire brood.
But being independent means having independent children – and giving them a voice. When the programme meets the O’Connor-O’Neill family, parents and children are on the cusp of making some major family decisions – one of which might not best please Mum Monica…

The School of Life:
Unhappy with the school system, Monica O’Connor has volunteered to teach the children at home. This she has done successfully for the last 19 years. This contrasts with Dad Eddie who loves his career as a woodwork teacher in Kilcullen. How does the family reconcile these two opposites?

The Natural Way:
The O’Connor-O’Neill family like the thought of being independent.
Father Eddie took on the building of their home and he hopes, one day, to move the family to new level of self sufficiency with solar panels and the eventual generation of their own electricity.
The children are involved in all the family’s horticultural endeavours and the result is that the family has fresh vegetables for most of the year and free range eggs all of the year.

More Children:
Monica and Eddie feel that they are lucky and they want to pass this luck on in some way. To this end they have become involved in fostering and they fostered Edward, a 16 year old Angolan boy for three years. 

The Programme:
When the programme meets the O’Connor-O’Neill family, Edward  (now 19) has just left the family to live on his own and the O’Connor-O’Neill family are about to sit down together to decide whether they should foster another child or to leave things as they are.

We also see the poignant tale of Oisin, 12, who has been home-schooled by his mother since childhood. We follow him as he develops feelings of longing for the wider world and as he contemplates a move to school.

Will Oisin make the change? Will the O’Connor-O’Neill family foster again? To see the conclusions this fascinating family come to watch Meet the Family…