For the second year in a row, Ireland is facing Mother’s Day in lockdown, on Sunday 14th March. So, the challenge to mark the occasion in a meaningful way is a big one, says Roscommon artist Rita Oates.

“On Mother’s Day, we need something really special for the women who created, nurtured and sacrificed so much for us. If we can’t visit our mothers this year, then our card or gift should say so much more.”

“The trauma of Covid-19 has rightly restricted our movements, thus limiting our relationships with our families. But it also gives us an opportunity to express our love and gratitude as never before.”

“So, perhaps this year more than any other, it’s time to ask yourself a few questions. Does my mother truly understand how much I appreciate her? Have I emphasised and communicated my feelings enough?”

Rita herself is a mother of six, and an American-born daughter of Irish emigrants. She moved to Carrick-on-Shannon as a teenager, and later became a teacher. She and her husband Michael opened a gift shop for Irish products in Roscommon in 1984. She sells her own artwork there and opened an online store for her work in 2019.

She specialises in cards, prints and designer scarves, describing her art as both ‘gentle and thought-provoking’. She combines subtle images with uplifting messages of hope and encouragement – so relevant in the times we live in.

Rita works hard to create distinctive and meaningful messages which go beyond the Hallmark schmalz many people find so unappealing.  “I have noticed an increased demand this past year for more insightful quality Irish-made cards, with positive messages.”

For Mother’s Day, her cards have themes that acknowledge our mothers’ love, strength, inspiration and support. “I also address the importance of our mothers in creating not just a place but a ‘sense’ of home and of security.”

“And don’t forget, Mother’s Day is not just about thanking your own mother…. It can be about sending love to your grandmother, godmother, partner or wife too!”

Rita’s work is created using unique images from hand-drawn and hand-painted originals. “I combine these images with uplifting lines of love, kindness and respect. The real-life story of the inspiration behind each one is printed on the back.”

You can find out more about her on