Reillys first experienced with a ‘SARAH’ was at the end of his first year as a marketing executive.

He’d arrived back to the business headquarters late one Friday afternoon.

And he very likely was in a BMW (Bitching, Moaning and Whinging) state of mind.

It might have ended at that except that the bosses wife called him out on his behaviour.

‘Reilly, I’m telling you this now because it may have escaped your attention. Your behaviour, that was once so positive and optimistic, is becoming increasingly negative and pessimistic.

He didn’t realise it at the time but he experienced an immediate and spontaneous ‘SARAH.’ 

Firstly he was utterly SHOCKED. 

He didn’t expect after the week he’d just put in that he’d be accused of negativity. 

This was followed almost instantly by ANGER. The boss himself would never accuse him of being negative. He was much too nice for that.

As he came up for air he rounded on the bosses wife with ‘well you’re not exactly a barrel of laughs yourself.’

He was pleased to see that his riposte had landed. Every knitting machine on the factory stopped. Nothing beats a good scrap on a Friday afternoon and already this one was seeing blood on the factory floor.

Buoyed by his initial hit he was assailed by a deep sense of REJECTION. He thought of all the sales he’d made that week; that month; that entire year. He reflected on the relationships he’d built with some of the most demanding and exacting customers in the business. He was reminded of the boot load of presents that his customers had given him in return for his good service and humour.

‘And now she was accusing him of being ‘negative.’ No way Hosé. I might be many things but I ain’t negative. If anything I’m Mr Positive.’

And then it occurred to Reilly to ask her if she could instance any specifics examples of when he had been negative.

And she did. Unemotionally. Factually. Accurately.

Reilly was half way to Galway before he finally experienced ACCEPTANCE. She’d been absolutely right. Reilly, unknowns to himself, had recently become negative. And this was a habit he wanted to change.

The following Monday morning Reilly asked for HELP in doing his job better. And he got it. And everything improved. 

Reilly was lashing out the door on Friday en route to a wedding in Cloughjordan when his daughter Sarah rang.

‘Now Reilly, listen up and take copious notes, because many of my friends are going to be at the wedding and I’m watching you.

‘You’re to behave yourself at this wedding. 

Reilly felt a sudden SARAH coming on and kicked for touch.

‘What you talking about,’ says Reilly in his best ‘Mr D’ accent.

‘I’m talking about not seeking out people from Mayo and reminding them that Galway bate them by a point last Sunday. 

‘I’m talking about not seeking out Tipperary people and reminding them of how Limerick obliterated them a fortnight ago.

‘And no racist stories; sexist stories; or ageist stories.’

‘I’m talking about being affable; charming; interested; and polite.

Reilly reflected what a pity that was because Cháv Dever had just rang him with a cracking story that contained every one of the above ingredients.

He listened carefully to the ‘SARAH’ however and he, and everyone around him, had a blast.

Grace McCabe married her sweetheart John Heavey in Cloughjordan on Friday. 

There wasn’t a dry eye in the cowshed when another Sarah, her Mother, Sarah Kelly McCabe, walked her up the aisle to give her hand in marriage to John. 

Some time later the newly married couple performed a 7000 year old Celtic traditional Handfasting ceremony where the couples hands were bound together with silk ribbons.

It’s where the expression ‘tying the knot’ came from.

May they enjoy a Blessed life together.


  • SARAH’ is an acronym that derives from the field of bereavement counselling. It was observed that when people lose somebody close to them they typically go through a journey of shock; anger; rejection; acceptance; and ultimately look for help. Understanding ‘SARAH’ therefore is a natural, normal, and necessary component in our quest to grow and develop as people and businesses. And that surely, is a core purpose of life.
  • So, whether it’s a proven psychological strategy for dealing with the exigencies of life, or a loving daughter or mother keeping us on the straight and narrow, all of us need a strong ‘SARAH’ in our lives.
  • Negativity and positivity are both learned behaviours. Martin Seligman, the Professor of Happiness, coined the phrases ‘learned optimism’ and ‘learned helplessness.’ We are neither born positive or negative. They are habits that develop inexorably over time. 


‘You are the average of the five people you are surrounded by most of the time.’

—Jim Rohn.

‘Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.’

—Jim Rohn.

‘There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.’

—W. Clement Stone.

‘Feedback, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a persons growth without destroying their roots.’


  1. How many people have you in your immediate circle of influence who give you feedback? Unemotionally; factually; accurately?Look after them. They’re your friends.
  2. How frequently do you request and receive feedback from your customers?
  3. How frequently do you request and receive feedback from your team?


Four years ago, at the start of Covid, Reilly decided to write a post that might uplift and comfort and give a laugh to his clients and friends. As Covid persisted so too did Reillys habit of posting a weekly blog. He’s proud to say that on Tuesday, Oaktree Press are publishing the 52 best of those blogs in a new book called Smácht. The Discipline of Success. 

As a reader of ‘The Life O’Reilly you are cordially invited to The Galmont Hotel in Galway on Tuesday next, May 14th, at 12-30 where Margaret Cox will formally launch the book. Reilly would love to see you there. 

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