Our History

How it all began

Eimear Berry Founder of the Irish Sudden Infant Death Association (ISIDA).
Dr Victoria Coffey was the first President of ISIDA from 1977-1984 and was a leading light in Irish Paediatricians.

The ISDA logo was created Shaun Lynch a founding member and former Chairman of the organisation. The daisy type flower with one petal falling represented to Shaun and his wife Liz what the death of their son Richard meant to their family. They had been a happy family and suddenly a petal had fallen.

In 1976, following the sudden death of her baby son, Brendan, from Sudden infant death syndrome (Cot Death), Eimear Berry founded the Irish Sudden Infant Death Association (I.S.I.D.A). The inaugural meeting of ISIDA took place on Friday, July 2nd 1976 and was attended by fifteen people. Those attending had responded to a letter Eimear had placed in the newspapers inviting other parents who had experienced “cot death” to come to a meeting in her home with a view of forming an association to support and help parents bereaved by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

From that initial membership of fifteen, ISIDA grew into a national organisation with a membership of 3,500. It established a national office (which operates from the Carmichael Centre, Dublin), set up a 24/7 emergency support helpline, assembled a national register of qualified professional counsellors to provide a range of services to suddenly bereaved families, and established the National Paediatric Mortality Register to promote and support research into SIDS and support the delivery of educational initiatives to help reduce the incidence of SIDS.

In 2012, further to demand for support by families bereaved suddenly in circumstances other than SIDS, the organisation changed its name to FirstLight and expanded its remit to provide support to families suddenly bereaved of a child up to 18 years.

Thousands of families have been supported by ISIDA/FirstLight and 43 years on, we remain the only organisation providing such professional services to suddenly bereaved families, either within or outside of the State’s services.

The Team

Our Patron

Sabina Higgins

Sabina Higgins is the wife of President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, who was inaugurated President on the 11th November 2011 for a seven-year term.
Sabin Coyne, now Higgins, was born in Cloonrane on the Galway-Mayo border and went to school in Ballindine and Claremorris, Co. Mayo.


At 18 years of age, Sabina moved to Dublin to work in the office of the Land Commission. She began to study acting using the Stanislavsky method after Deirdre O Connell’s wedding to singer Luke Kelly (The Dubliners) and became, with Deirdre, one of the founding members of the Focus Theatre where she worked with Tom Hickey, Timmy McDonald, Mary Elizabeth Burke Kennedy, Joan Bergin, and many others.
Sabina met Michael D. Higgins at a party in Dublin and in 1974 they were married in Dublin’s Haddington Road Church. Sabina moved to Galway, where in addition to working as a partner with Michael D. in every campaign and in public life for over thirty years, she maintained her involvement with Theatre and community arts, working with the world renowned Druid Theatre, An Taibhearc and other groups.
Sabina has been a patron of FirstLight since 2014

Our Ambassador


Úna Crawford O’Brien is an Irish actor, best known for her role as Renee Phelan in the long-running soap opera, Fair City which has been broadcasting since 1997. Additionally, she has done a lot of stage work, including Menopause the Musical and Grumpy Old Women.

She was previously married to Brian O’Brien, and they have two sons, Tim, and Fionn. They also had a baby daughter Sorcha, who sadly passed away at 17 weeks, in a cot death. After the death of her daughter Sorcha, Úna became involved with FirstLight.

Úna’s partner is Irish actor, Bryan Murphy and supports FirstLight as an Ambassador in many ways, specifically around FirstLight’s Mile in Memory Walks.


Board Members and the Chairman are volunteers and donate their time without payment. FirstLight is committed to complying with and implementing The Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations of Ireland and is working towards these standards.


Oliver Blackwell: Chair

Oliver joined the Board of FirstLight in 2013 performing the role of company secretary recently and became Chair in April 2019. He qualified with a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering (BE) in 1998 from UCC and also holds a Master of Business Studies (MBS) from CIT.

He has worked in various technical, project, managerial and director level roles in the telecoms and IT sector. With work, he has travelled extensively to many developing countries including Somalia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Sri Lanka and Iraq. He has also rolled out mobile phone networks in Paraguay and the Federated States of Micronesia, and has been involved in the testing and development of innovative and cutting edge VoIP telephony solutions. In his spare time, Oliver enjoys music and hill-walking and participates on the Board of Management as Treasurer of Togher Boys National School in Cork.  Oliver joined the Board of FirstLight in 2013.

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Ciara Regan: Secretary

Ciara is a partner in Deloitte Ireland’s Actuarial, Reward & Analytics practice.

She leads the life and pensions sector propositions and has more than 20 years of experience across the direct, reinsurance and consulting sectors. She provides advisory support to numerous clients within the Irish market. Such advisory support has included support on regulatory changes such as Solvency II (including capital optimisation) and more recently PRIIPs, along with considering the operational changes required as a consequence of such regulation. It has also included AFH independent peer reviews; market consistent embedded value and IFRS reserve reviews; stochastic models; Section 13 transfers of business; target operating model reviews; and risk governance appropriateness from appetite through to framework and culture embedding. Deloitte’s actuarial practice is one of the largest in the Irish market with c.25 people with skills across life, non-life and pensions.

Deirdre Magliozzi: Treasurer

Deirdre is a Registered General Nurse and currently works in St James’s Hospital Dublin. She trained in St James’s hospital in 1993. Following general medical and surgical experience, Deirdre completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Oncological Nursing, and has experience in an acute Oncology inpatient area as a Clinical Nurse Manager.

In 2002 Deirdre moved into the area of clinical trials and worked as an Oncology Research Nurse until the birth of her third child. She spent the next few years at home with the family. She returned to work in 2012 and currently works in the National Coagulation Centre in St James’s Hospital.
Following the sudden death of her daughter Clodagh in 2013, Deirdre and her family found support from FirstLight. In 2015, Deirdre joined the Board of FirstLight. She is a member of the Finance Committee and serves as Treasurer.  Deirdre lives in County Dublin with her husband and three children. When not working or ferrying the family around, Deirdre enjoys walking and reading.

Adrain O’ Grady

Adrian is a Station Officer with Dublin Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service. He has 23 years of experience working as a Firefighter, Paramedic and Officer.

Adrian is a qualified Psychotherapist and has been the Director of the Critical Incident Stress Management Team in Dublin Fire Brigade since 2006, providing crisis intervention, individual and group support, and counselling to members of the Brigade and the public. He holds an MSc in Bereavement Studies and has trained as a Complicated Grief Therapist with the Irish Hospice Foundation. He is a tutor in Paramedic Studies and in Individual and Group Crisis Intervention (Defusing and Debriefing) with the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICIFS), and has provided psychological support in the aftermath of the most tragic incidents across the country.
Adrian is a Steering Committee member of Critical Incident Stress Management Network Ireland, and is an Eye Movement De-Sensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapist, a recognised therapy for complex trauma. He is currently stationed in Tallaght Fire Station.
Adrian joined the Board of FirstLight in 2018.

David Burke

David is a Senior Partner at Korn Ferry, a world leading Advisory and Human Capital organisation. Korn Ferry is the largest provider of Executive Search services globally.

David has extensive experience in advising clients recruiting senior executives into Life Sciences, Professional Services, Industrial and Consumer organisations. He has partnered with both public and private equity backed companies locally and internationally on C-level, EVP, SVP and Director level assignments, bringing exceptional talent to his clients.

Prior to joining Korn Ferry, David worked for over 7 years as Managing Partner at Accreate, a boutique Search firm which, under his stewardship, doubled in size every 2 years. His earlier career saw him lead and manage a division of a global Recruitment Consultancy firm for 9 years.

David previously held senior management roles at Apple Computer in Ireland and Johnson & Johnson in Australia. He is currently based in Dublin. Coupled with his professional career, David owns and runs a Dairy farm in Cork.

David is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin having attained a B.Sc. (Honours) in Management Sciences. He holds a Diploma in Marketing from the Dublin Institute of Technology as well as a Certificate in Agriculture.

He joined the Board of FirstLight in 2017 and is a member of the Fundraising Committee.

Charles O’ Brien

Charles was born in Cork and moved to Dublin in 1979.  He worked in radio production, media and sales before setting up a nightclub/tourism business in The Synod Hall, Christchurch.

Charles joined the management team of Mosney Holiday Centre as part of its rebrand in 1988.

As Marketing and Development Manager, he oversaw the financial turnaround and customer development of the popular County Meath family resort until its emergence in 2000 as a direct provision centre.

Charles has also worked with the Arts/Circus community to successfully lobby the government to amend the 2003 Arts Bill to recognise circus as a pillar art form, and has provided marketing and PR services to the Irish National Circus, Fossett’s, since 2004.

Charles moved to Portugal in 2003 and spent 3 years working in tourism projects on the Algarve. He continues to work with a number of Portuguese based leisure venues while based in Dublin.

He joined the Board of FirstLight in 2017 and is the chair of its Fundraising Committee.

Annual Reports

FirstLight complies with the Statement for Guiding Principles for Fundraising and formally discussed and adopted the Statement at a Board Meeting.

Our partners

By joining forces with FirstLight, our partners make a vital contribution in continued support of suddenly bereaved parents and families


24/7 Emergency support: 1850 391 391

Head office: +353 (0) 1 873 2711