Documentary on One

Welcome to Holland

A story about the unexpected places life takes you - Grace Harper was born healthy in 2004, but within a year, her life and the lives of her family had changed dramatically, as they learned to accept and manage her...

Welcome to Holland

Grace on the bus with sister Martha and brother Sean on the way to school at the CRC
Grace on the bus with sister Martha and brother Sean on the way to school at the CRC

This documentary follows Grace Harper, a little girl with special needs, during a two-year period while she transitions from school at the Central Remedial Clinic in Clontarf to her local Educate Together National School, where she is the only child who uses a wheelchair.

A story of hope, hard work and courage, much of its impact of "Welcome to Holland" comes from the fact that Grace's mother, Susan Dennehy, is the documentary producer.

"When we found out that our child had a disability we struggled to understand what was happening. Among all the supportive literature we were given at the time one story stood out and helped us to understand the journey our family was undertaking.

"There's a story called 'Welcome to Holland' - written by Emily Perl Kingsley c 1987 - which compares having a child with a disability to planning a holiday to somewhere sunny like Italy only to find you have actually arrived in Holland instead!

"This is not where you expected to go in life, and you need to readjust your expectations. Once you get over the initial shock, you start to realise that Holland is perfectly lovely in it's own way.

Grace was born healthy in May 2004. She contracted viral meningitis aged one, and her life and that of her family has never been the same since.

This documentary shows how they came to cope with Grace's physical disability and the massive changes to their lives that it entails.

'Welcome to Holland' is one family's personal experience of learning; learning about disability and the quiet art of acceptance and dignity that go along with it; learning that having a disability is not the end of the world; learning that it is not what we can do but who we are that matters; and learning that there is a place in life for every single person, it's just a matter of finding it.


The transmission of this programme coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Central Remedial Clinic.

Narrated and produced by Susan Dennehy.

Production supervision by Nicoline Greer.

Sound supervision by Mark McGrath.

First broadcast May 26th 2012

'Documentary on One - The home of Irish radio documentaries - The largest library of documentary podcasts available anywhere. We tell stories in sound, mostly Irish stories, with each documentary telling its own story'

Documentary maker: Susan Dennehy

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Documentary maker: Nicoline Greer

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