As Geraldine Mullan marks the second anniversary of the deaths of her beloved husband and their two children, she’s inviting people to visit a spectacular sunflower maze she planted in their memory.
he Field of Hope, which she opened to the public yesterday, is now in full bloom.
A sea of yellow stretches far and wide on the shores of Lough Foyle in Co Donegal, close to the spot where Ms Mullan lost her loved ones.
On this day two years ago, her life changed forever in a split second when the car she was travelling in with her husband John and children Tomás (14) and six-year-old Amelia left the road and entered Lough Foyle, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, near the village of Quigley’s Point in north Co Donegal.
Ms Mullan was the only survivor on that fateful night as a storm battered the Inishowen Peninsula.
Since their deaths, the widow – a clinical nurse specialist at Letter-kenny Hospital – has been active in her local community in honouring the lives of her loved ones.
When her friend, Catherine Carlin, approached her with the idea of a sunflower field, it resonated strongly with the grieving mother because sunflowers were her daughter Amelia’s favourite flower.
Ms Carlin’s father John McCarron, a local farmer, donated his field at Quigley’s Point for the project. After planting thousands of seeds spelling out the word “hope” some months ago, it’s now a dazzling sight.
And Ms Mullan is keen to point out that without the help of friends and the local community, who toiled tirelessly in the field, the project would not have come to fruition.
“I have realised that, alone, I can do so little but together we can achieve so much. I’m all alone but I’ve got the community behind me and they are propping me up,” she said.
By fateful coincidence, it was local man Kevin Barr – one of the Coast Guard members sent to the tragic scene two years ago – who introduced Ms Mullan to his sister-in-law, Catherine Carlin.
Over cups of tea at Ms Mullan’s home, her friend’s vision for a field of swaying sunflowers came to life.
“Watching the sunflowers and working in the field, I’ve been on my own journey,” said Ms Mullan. “These flowers have taught me that life goes on. Working with the soil has brought me back to memories with John and the kids.
“I’m not green-fingered and I think I’ve had help from my three.”
And she believes her husband John, who ran a garden centre in the nearby town of Moville and who could make anything grow, would be impressed. “I think he’d be proud of his wife. This has brought me closer to John, knowing what he did all these years. As for Tomás and Amelia – if I close my eyes I can picture Amelia running through the maze and Tomás giving his mum the thumbs-up,” she said.
Ms Mullan hopes that people will walk through the sunflower maze and feel the hope and love these flowers have brought to her life. “I’ve been on a path since August 20, 2020 – the path I was on changed – but this path of hope is helping me put one foot in front of the other. It helps to keep me going as best I can for John, Tomás and Amelia.”
The Field of Hope is open to the public today and tomorrow from midday until 5pm. People are asked to make a donation, with all proceeds going to the Mullan Hope Centre in Moville, which Geraldine Mullan founded to serve the local community.