Galway City Tribune - Opinion Piece
Solicitor Áine willing people to look after their affairsOctober 25, 2012 - 2:21pm
Making wills is not something Irish people are good at, which is why every year, Make a Will week is held to encourage people to get over their reservations and just do it.
Áine Feeney is one of a number of Galway solicitors involved in the initiative which invites people to come in for a consultation for just €50.
“It also encourages people to leave a charitable bequest. This is a greatly underused way of raising money, so we have a list of 50 charities as a suggestion, though people can choose their own charity.
“I see through my work though that the Donkey Charity, believe it or not, is one of the main beneficiaries as they have targeted this market over the years, but now other traditional charities are going to aim for this as well.
“It has been the custom in many offices not to charge regular clients for wills, and I am sure that through the Make a Will scheme, most solicitors will do the same or charge a nominal sum.”
She says that the Irish are so reluctant at making a will.
“They are afraid that if they do, they will die soon after. What people don’t realise is the money that could be saved by making a will.”
A native of Athlone, Áine’s mother hailed from Spiddal. Her parents separated when she was quite young and Áine chose to use her mother’s maiden name, which she continues to use despite being married to James McTigue, who runs his own business, Reality Interiors in Kilcogan.
Having graduated with a BA in Law and Soc/Pol, she immediately started working, first with Bruce St John Blake and then in Headford, until she opened her own law practice in 2006.
Two children later (Jessica, aged 6 and Harry, aged 4), Áine has built up a strong practice and says she loves working and can’t imagine being a stay-at-home mum.
A lot of her work involves family law, and though she doesn’t always share her own personal story with clients, she does empathise with clients going through a marital break-up – as an only child, she remembers all too well the heartache experienced during her parents’ separation.
“I didn’t choose to go into family law. It just happened in my first practice when Bruce took the trade union and occupational injury work, and I got the family law cases.
“It still breaks my heart witnessing family break-ups but maybe it also helps that I have empathy. I know clients always think you don’t understand. . . but in my case, I do.”
She is a feisty woman who learned her sense of justice and politics (strong Fianna Fáil) on her grandfather’s knee, and her ambition from her mother, who had a nursing background and now works for the HSE in the Midlands.
“I had an interest in local politics and had hoped to stand in the Local Elections but I was beaten by two votes for the nominations the year I went for it . John Connolly won and got elected onto the City Council. I was very involved with the party and had joined Ógra Fianna Fáil in college and later worked on Margaret Cox’s (former senator and city councillor) election campaign.
“But I feel now that I might be more useful on committees and working to make a difference in that way. At the moment those activities outside of work – with the Business and Professional Women (BPW), the National Women’s Council of Ireland and being on the Board of the City Business Association – fill my political needs and allows me to give something back, which I really enjoy. I feel I have a voice and I want to contribute to make society a better place.”
As a child, she watched political programmes like Today Tonight and was well used to adults discussing current affairs around the kitchen table.
She has just returned from Sorrento, Italy where she attended an international BPW congress (she is the incoming Galway president) which was attended by 450 women who, it appears, have the same concerns as women everywhere.
“For women, it is about the constant struggle to promote ourselves as entrepreneurs. We are jugglers who are as capable as men but we always seem to doubt ourselves. We are very poor at telling ourselves or others that we are indeed doing a good job.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.