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Friday, 03 May 2013 00:00

My First Cousin Toby and his family

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 Mum and Dad would be proud

Sisters Mary and Therese Tallent lost their parents when still children.

It was this that made them strive to succeed

'PEOPLE say that if you marry one of the four of us, you get all of us because we're so close," say Kilkenny sisters Mary and Therese Tallent. "We've had to be, because we helped bring each other up, really, as our parents died when we were young."

Growing up very happily with two younger sisters on a dairy farm in Sheestown, in Kilkenny, the lovely Mary and Therese could have had no idea that they would lose both parents so early on in life.

Their dad Toby was a very fit and active farmer, and, as their house was set in a gorgeous location by the sea, he had some canoes and they were always out on the water.

"Our dad was super outdoorsy, and always brought us everywhere with him," says Mary, 33. "He didn't drink or smoke, but he got lung cancer and died when he was 42 in September 1989. I was nine, Therese was eight, Gabrielle was five and Pia was three, and it was a really sad time and very tough for our mother Phyllis.

"The farm was rented out and she looked after us, but she passed away aged 46 from cancer of the stomach in September 1995. I had just done my Junior Cert and our youngest sister Pia was only nine."

"They were very much in love, and we always wondered if her illness was connected in some way to losing him," says Therese, 31.

"They were so different, as Mum studied languages and did ballet and fencing, while Dad was into farming and hurling. They met when she did a poetry reading for Macra na Feirme."

The girls' uncle took care of them and became their guardian, and they moved into a house near where he and his family lived in Kilkenny city. They had a housekeeper's help during the day and a relative would stay at night. And, of course, the girls also looked out for each other.

While 14- and 15-year-old teenagers are usually busy having fun and rebelling against their parents, Mary often felt an almost parental responsibility towards her younger sisters.

"Therese was doing her Junior Cert, and our mum had drilled in to us that we were going to university. We grew up quite fast and none of us went off the rails. I think we just wanted to make our parents proud of us as well."

With only 14 months between them, Mary and Therese have always been close. Mary took her first steps on Therese's Christening day, and jokes that it was her way of saying, "Look at me!"

"We're probably the most different of the four of us," she says.

"I was nerdy and used to read loads of books, and Therese was kind of cool. I remember for my confirmation I had this fabulous old-fashioned outfit that she wouldn't be caught dead in, and she wore a Nirvana T-shirt and jeans for hers."

"I was a bit wild and always up to divilment," laughs Therese. "Mary used to trick me because she was older. Like the time we had to clean our room, and she sat on the window sill while I did the work. She told me that she had the harder job, because she had to supervise. It only happened once."

At 18, Mary moved to Dublin to study social science at UCD, but came back to Kilkenny as often as possible. Further education was possible as the girls had "a bit of an inheritance" to fund college, and also worked part-time. Mary completed a masters degree in PR and won a scholarship to do a masters in sociology at UCD.

Ultimately, she decided that she preferred PR and started working in that area. She moved back to Kilkenny when Pia was doing her Leaving Cert, and has been with Kilkenny-based communication and PR agency Purcell Masterson since 2004 (www. She married her husband Conor in 2010 in an old monastery on a cliff-top in Blanes, Spain.

Meanwhile, Therese studied languages and marketing in Waterford, and then travelled all over the world during the next few years. She accepted a job in Sicily at one point, and ended up becoming engaged to her boss's son Alain. She has now moved back to Kilkenny, and Alain will follow over in June. They plan to marry next year.

Therese opened a language school called Tallent for Languages in Kilkenny. It runs courses and gives individual lessons to adults and children in a wide range of languages, taught by native- speaking and multilingual teachers.

It also offers tailor-made training courses to businesses, as well as translating and interpreting. "Mary has been an amazing help to me in launching my business, and she has always been there for all of us through our lives," says Therese. "She is very kind and thoughtful, and is also hilarious. And she loves luxury."

"I admire Therese a lot, because I think she's really adventurous," says Mary. "She has been everywhere and in every funny scenario that I can think of over the years, and is really lively and fun. She's also my best friend."

Before Therese weds Alain, third sister and architect Gabrielle will marry her Spanish fiance, Vicent, on a wildlife reserve in Valencia in September. She lives in the Spanish city now, while Pia lives in Sydney and is a teacher at a school for children with special needs.

She has a Greek-Australian boyfriend Sam, so the sisters are certainly flying the flag for international relations with their choice of partners.

And looking at the beautiful, charismatic and talented daughters that they left behind, you somehow get a sense that their late parents must be looking down on them with a huge sense of pride.

10 The Parade, Kilkenny.

T:         056 - 777 0444

M:       087 – 269 5245

E:         This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Irish Independent

Mary works for Purcell Masterson in 10 Ormond Street Kilkenny and has two masters degrees, in PR and Sociology

T:         056 - 7723 211

Read 2364 times Last modified on Monday, 10 August 2015 17:25
Robert Tallent

Bob is a Management Consultant, Mentor and Trainer. He is also an Entrepreneur from 1983 to the present day. Between 1983 and 1995 he ran four businesses with a turnover in excess of £1m. As well as having an Honours Degree in Business Studies, he is also an Industrial Engineer and managed a large department in a multinational with large budgets and responsibilities.

He studied to become a Management Consultant, Mentor and Trainer and setup The Synergy Group in 1995.

He has a huge range of business and management experience in practically every industry.

Call him privately on +353(0)87 232 6927

or email him on

Main land line is +353(1) 821 5189

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