Does my DEBT look big in this?

[click on links at end to purchase kindle or hardcopy – proceeds for Pieta House]

Jillian Godsil became broke and famous by a series of random and connected actions. Once a successful businesswoman and aspiring writer, she was hit by the double whammy of divorce and recession. Accordingly she was left in possession of a rather large mortgage (in excess of €1,000,000) on a Georgian manor house worth less than half that amount. Her ex-husband returned to the UK and became bankrupt, effectively giving her and their two children the entire debt. She fought every way she could but she could not hold back the tide. In 2011, she made a video to sell the house which went viral. She received an offer of €500,000 but the banks refused the sale. In Irish law even had the bank accepted the offer, she and her two children would still have been held liable for the balance.

In 2012 things got worse. Her company failed and bailiffs were sent in but her story continued to travel around the world. This time, instead of online and viral, she went offline and traditional. Her story was featured on Irish, English, Belgian and American television broadcasters. Her claim to fame was to be featured on BBC2’s Newsnight. Still, it made not a blind bit of difference to her downwardly spiralling financial crisis. Asked why she kept talking, even as she was backed into a financial corner, she cited one reason; suicide. She believes she has been given a voice to keep talking about debt, what it feels like, how to live with and please God, how one day to conquer it. Ireland of 2011 witnessed two suicides every day. While not all were down to financially reasons, a significant proportion could be attributed to such a cause.

Jillian’s mantra is that she is not ashamed she failed financially. She worked bloody hard but life threw her a curve ball. In Ireland financial failure is viewed as a stigma, unlike other cultures which view it as a necessary path for any businessperson worth their salt. It is ironic that the quote ‘Fail once, fail better the second time’ is from none other than Irishman of letters, Samuel Beckett.

When people tell her that the banks cannot get blood from a stone, Jillian’s response is to say ‘Yes, but it is very hard being that stone’. Banks are very powerful institutions and can jump up and down on little people. It hurts. It hurts a lot. Likewise, having no income is very painful, especially when one was successful before. Surviving debt is a tough road. It is not easy. It is very hard to share the reality of the day to day choices that have to be made. Jillian began 2011 an ardent and keen volunteer in many areas. She ended it an accidental activist. But one important thing she learnt along the way. She is not afraid.

On the plus side, Jillian is now a full time writer. Poverty and writing are good bedfellows. Here is a collection of her blogs from 2012. Some of them are funny, some of them irate and some of them painful and sad. She started the year in good hope but that too was almost crushed along the way. Almost. She has learnt that even the toughest of times will pass. She had learnt she is not afraid.

All profits pledged to Pieta House

BUY the kindle version here BUY the hardcopy version here

Also, you can view a presentation I made about debt- called ‘I wonder’ here of you have 30minutes spare. It was posted on The Journal and the Good Men Project also





  1. Jillian I am only half way through our book and I feel so much better!! I’m bogged down totally with debt from 2 buy-to-let properties that myself and husband purchased ( for pension reasons) in the so called good times! 5 years later – vast reduction in our salaries, not by choice, and we are suffocating in debt! Your book has shone some light on my darkness……. Thank you immensely……

    • thank you Linda. I really wanted to share the emotion of debt. When things go hard, people say go to MABs, go to an accountant, or a financial adviser. that is all well and good and sometimes they can help you, and sometimes they can’t. Sometimes you just have to shoulder on regardless. I think people who have not suffered the unprecedented levels of debts faced by many today are unaware just how debilitating it can be. Unhappily some look for an exit which is horrendous for all concerned, but those who shoulder on sometimes find their lives lived without hope, dreams and release. It is a like a modern form of slavery – few dare to dream again of a time when they are free from debt. Thank you for your comments 🙂

  2. Jill I am speechless……..and the only word that comes out is ‘Awesome’. Your book arrived just before lunch today and as it was sunny I took my lunch and your book, out to the upper terrace. My lunch got cold as my fork hung in the air; my mouth had forgotten to eat. Fortunately, I had a bottle of Chianti in tow, so I was able to keep going. The winter chill had frozen my feet by the time I dragged myself into the sitting room for the last few chapters. I finished the book at exactly four o’clock, by which time I had been forced to pour myself a glass of port to warm myself up! Very very good, but of course a true story and so heart breaking. I had not realised just how horrendous the Irish banking system was. In the UK it is possible to ‘write a debt off’ where it is obviously never going to get paid. May you rise and rise and that life brings you all the love and joy you deserve. Molto Amore June xx

  3. Tragic yet Inspiring story, plucky lady, great title, just bought your book. Its great you’ve sharing your story for all. Empowering. Find myself in same situ presently and need to move through it maintaining inner strength also… looking forward to your talk (which is how i discovered you) on Wednesday in Wexford with the Inspired Network group.. may good stuff fill your days 🙂

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