We Didn’t Start The Fire

The decision not to categorise female soldiers as soldiers despite their having fought for Irish independence in the 1920s. The decision not to pay them pensions as a result.

The mother and baby homes.

The Magdalene laundries.

The 1937 Constitution which put women in the home.

The marriage bar. The loss of income and pension rights as a result.

The different pay scales for women and men in the civil and public service.

The exile of Edna O’Brien.

Telling the Parliament that the first female police service recruits shouldn’t be too horse faced and that they should not be targets for marriage.

Symphysiotomy being introduced after it had fallen of out favour in most other countries.

Male only jury service.

The seizure of state run social services, including schools and hospitals, by religious orders loyal to another state.

The Irish Women’s Liberation Movement taking the train to buy condoms.

Mary McGee taking the state to court to buy condoms.

The eighth amendment.

Joanne Hayes and the Kerry babies scandal.

Miss X.

Miss Y.

A, B and C v Ireland.

Terminations For Medical Reasons.

Amanda Mellet.

Savita Halappanavar.

NP being kept alive despite being braindead and liquifying because the foetus inside her had a heartbeat.

The women passing illegal abortion pills into the hands of women minding their children.

The lack of anatomy scans because ‘What can you do anyway?’

The lack of a right to informed consent during pregnancy.

The 2002 referendum in which the Government wanted to do away with the right of suicidal women to abortions in Ireland.

The 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act where women who have abortions where their lives aren’t at risk face a jail term of 14 years.

Being told we’re all going to die as a reason to deny women autonomy.

The marches for choice.

I came very late to the repeal movement. I was antichoice for a large portion of my younger years. I was wrong. I was judgmental. I didn’t know just how much the Irish state has tried to keep us quiet. When you grow up somewhere that has a religious school system, where most of the population are the same religion and where the state broadcaster plays the catholic call to prayer twice a day any non-conformity can seem shocking.

This week it feels like something has shifted. I don’t know if this is the beginning of the end but I am very hopeful it is the end of a long beginning. Reading about the women who went before me is humbling. I admire their resolve and strength, and I don’t know how they didn’t spend a large amount of their time being mad as hell about things.

It will be long and hard and difficult to get to the finish line, but I think of all those who went before us and I take solace from the fact that, in their way, they’ve chipped away at some of the stoney silence around women’s rights and human rights in Ireland. And I thank them for that.

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We Didn’t Start The Fire

In Praise of Libraries.

When I was a child, we often went to the library twice a week. I have always loved reading and I’d choose four books on a Saturday, have them read by Sunday evening, and then return to a chess club to choose four more on Monday. I still remember my heart leaping when the final two books in the Drina series appeared on the shelf after a family holiday.

My library use dwindled after college, and was non existent before we moved to our new home almost two years ago. Happily, we can now walk to one of the libraries I remember going to as a child. The shelves and the smell are the same. It seems to have shrunk – I remember towers of books above my head – but the tiles are the same ones I walked on three decades ago. There’s a self-service machine to return and borrow books, but there’s also still enthusiastic librarians who’ll find a book with the skimpiest of details.

I went yesterday, and borrowed three books, two of which I had on my to-buy list and one of which has proved to be a mistake. No matter, it hasn’t cost me anything to give it a try. One of my smaller resolutions is to make the most of my library this year, as I did when I was a small child and I wished and hoped that a favourite book would be returned or a new book would appear on the shelf.

In Praise of Libraries.

Tiny Sparks of Joy

Relegating things to the attic after being slightly irritated by them for months.

Taking some action on repeal of the eighth amendment, albeit small.

Minimalism v Reality in the New York Times. A few months old but relevant to me now.

The Lam family, photographed over several years. Even though I don’t live in a small space, I’m intrigued by those who do and how they do it.

Making some New Year’s resolutions which are achievable, like saving a little more and exercising a little more.

Tiny Sparks of Joy

When You Know It Will Be A Long, Hard Week.

Work this week is going to be difficult. Not only will it be a long week, I’ll have to deal with some very tough topics. I’ve had weeks like this before and I try to make them character building. It’s always good to have your views challenged and to listen to every side of an argument, but it’s not always easy to actually do this. I’m more or less forced into having to listen, which I’m trying to see as a good thing.

With this in mind, I’m much more organised than I was last week and I have a fridge of healthy food to keep me going. I dropped the ball big time last week and the deliciousness of Offbeat donuts was too tempting to resist. This week for my sanity, health and well being I’m determined to eat properly and engage in a bit of self care.

I know I should probably try to stay off the tweet machine as much as possible. I think that’s a harder temptation to resist than the donuts. But I’ll give it a try.

When You Know It Will Be A Long, Hard Week.

My Happiness Depends On Me

One of my very favourite singers is Dolly Parton and one of my very favourite songs of hers is Jolene and one of my very favourite performance of it was when she sang at Glastonbury in 2014. I watched her performance on BBC4, which broadcast the show live, and my husband, who had been a little ambivalent about her before then saw why I’ve been such a fan.

I think it’s one of the saddest songs ever written, and, in a twisted way, one of the most beautiful songs about love for a man I’ve ever heard. Dolly is begging Jolene not to take her man just because she can, and pleads with her that her happiness depends on Jolene’s decision.

I won’t go into the rights and wrongs of leaving one’s happiness in the hands of a decision another woman takes regarding your man, but suffice to say it’s probably not the healthiest message to send to anyone. My happiness depends on me, and whatever I decide to do.

Changing my mindset from expecting those around me to make me happy to realising my own actions and thoughts were what would make me happy – a feeling of being in control instead of hoping other people would deliver happiness to me – has brought me great peace of mind.

I often wonder about Jolene’s happiness. I hope she turned out ok in the end.

My Happiness Depends On Me