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Women can’t be trusted to choose…

That is what you are saying to me if you Vote “No” on Repealing the 8th Amendment in May. This is not about morality it’s about equality – something women have been fighting to get for centuries. I am too young to have seen the struggle for the vote or the right to work but I’ll be damned if I’m going to stay quiet in the fight for choice. My boyfriend is not seen as a walking sperm bank so why am I seen as a vessel?

As I approach my 30’s, I am keenly aware of how this issue will directly impact me. I love my partner dearly and someday would love to have a family with him. I will not, however, “bear his children” – a detestable phrase which reinforces everything the 8th amendment stands for: I am for breeding.

My intelligence, my humor, the joy I bring to the lives of my loved ones – everything that gives meaning to my life is to be disregarded should it ever come down to me or an unborn foetus.

I have had many reasons to be proud to be Irish over the last number of years. We have proven to be a nation that champions equality and diversity and celebrating drunkenly but amicably abroad. Yet I am worried that we will fall at the final hurdle.

This is our only shot. The government will gladly seal this up in an airtight container never to be resurrected if  the referendum doesn’t pass in May. And it’s going to be tight. Which terrifies me. Because there is a real chance that this might not pass.

So let me tell you why I am voting “Yes”.

I do not want to have an abortion. I hope I never need one. From reading the heartbreaking stories scattered on the internet it seems like a horrific, traumatic experience. But I would hate to endure something so horrendous alone. I would hate for any children I had to be left without a mother because my life was sacrificed to save a pregnancy that was killing me.

I am not fighting for the right to have an abortion. I am fighting for the right to choose. There is a reason the “Yes” side identifies as “pro-choice” and not “pro-abortion”. Because the truth is, it is an option I hope I never have to avail of. But by denying me the right to choose you are saying you don’t trust me. You are saying I am incapable of making a decision which would impact the rest of my life.

By denying me the right to choose between my living children and a pregnancy which is killing their mother you are condemning my family. You are denying them their basic human right to love and protection.

By voting “No” in May you are doing women all over Ireland a disservice. You are saying their judgement can’t be trusted. Your mother, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend has no right to make her own life decision.

By voting “No” in May you are not “Pro-life” but “anti-choice”.

Because this is about choice and nothing else.

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Christmas Wish

This festive time of year

Help to spread some good cheer.

Give a friend a hug and kiss,

Call the loved ones whom you miss.

Wear your Santa hat with pride

Take your sleigh out for a ride.

Be yourself, laugh and cry;

Wave the old year goodbye.

My wish to you, big or small.

Merry Christmas, to one and all!156860_10150102665405152_5083931_n

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Flight to Inis Mór

I eyed the small plane with trepidation, bordering on anxiety. My weekend escape to the west coast had got off to a wet start, having stepped off the bus in Galway city to the teeming deluge, typical of the June bank holiday. The flimsy umbrella I had brought with me crumpled under the sheer force of the summer torrents.

Soaked and sodden, I procured the keys to my friend’s “shack” in Newcastle and attempted to dry my belongings in the igloo-like house in preparation for my island break the next day. I not-so silently cursed the City of Tribes and its inclement weather as I wrung my underwear in the bathroom sink. Continue Reading »

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There are Plenty of Fish on Tinder

“You’re too weird for a relationship”.

These words were uttered to me by a man I was seeing while we were having a quiet drink after our social club and oddly enough while we were still very much in the honeymoon phase of our liaison. Our year-long assortment of after-club conversations and rendezvous  could not really be characterised as a relationship in the usual sense of the word, nor would I term it so casually as simply dating either. The emotional baggage carried by both was of sufficient weight to prevent either one of us from setting clearly defined boundaries as to what was happening. However, that we were both in love with one another was most definitely certain. Continue Reading »

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2016 Reading Challenge 

I have seen many posts on reading challenges for the year in previous years and have decided this year to take one up. However, I will go one step further and endeavour to write a review of each book after reading it. This challenge is two-fold: 1. To get me reading more. 2. To get me in the practice of writing critically again. So follow me on my challenge and for those of you who would like to try it for yourselves, this is the one I have chosen. 

  I will try my best not to cheat and treat each one as an individual book. Let the reading begin!

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San Pellegrino

I will never forget the first time I tasted San Pellegrino. The hiss of the bottle as I untwisted the cap and the bubbles crashed to the surface. That glorious fizz tickling my throat as I tasted luxury. I was never one for sparkling water but as soon as the bottle touched my lips I was converted – not to sparkling water in general, but to San Pellegrino in particular.

The change was less to do with the drink itself and more due to its positive connotations. Let me clarify. My first taste of the Italian nectar was in a car on a hot summer’s day, travelling to Athlone with a gentleman I had only met an hour previously. I was never in safer hands than in that moment. Having recently joined a tennis club, I was invited on a group trip wake-boarding in the midlands. My lift down was with an honourable gentleman who was part of the crew.

The Italian nectar

The Italian nectar

It was this driver who first offered me the San Pellegrino. I was amused to find crateful’s of the beverage in the boot of his car – here was a man who enjoyed the finer things in life. I was struck by this stranger’s warmth. I had barely belted myself into the car when my companion began chatting to me; not just the usual banal things you gloss over when you first meet someone like background, family, work, etc, but real life and what’s happening in it – much like you would with a friend. As the conversation flowed, it began to dawn on me what calibre of man the driver was. He was not only an interesting character but he was also genuinely interested in what I had to say. I spoke about my choir, my background in radio, and my love of travel. He took up this last point, travel being a shared interest. My imagination was captured by stories of his adventures in Egypt – the colour, the decadent hotels and the glorious heat; he was a gifted storyteller.

I initially found it hard to place this gentleman. He was tall and tanned, with strong facial features and silky brown hair. He looked too handsome and healthy to be Irish. I had him pegged in his late 30s and later discovered he was already pushing 50! His accent was what threw me. English was most definitely his first language but I knew he wasn’t from Australia or New Zealand. I thought him to be American – it would have fitted with the tan, the sickening good looks and the warm expression of his countenance. He was in fact a Dub, born and bred; the tan was acquired from months of globe-trotting and the accent just another interesting facet of his character.

All the while, as we journeyed and talked, we drank San Pellegrino. He asked me if I liked it and I replied in the affirmative. He delighted in his latest convert, remarking that he enjoyed the good things in life. San Pellegrino was not just sparkling water; it was representative of affordable luxury, something which my companion clearly enjoyed. For me, San Pellegrino reminds me of the warmest human being I have had the pleasure of knowing. His generosity of spirit and infectious smile and laughter remain ingrained on my mind. He was a true gentleman who made me feel welcome from our first meeting, something which I will never forget. San Pellegrino is special because every time the bubbles fizz down my throat, I am remembering a good friend.

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Life Lessons you should learn by 25

Have you ever noticed the abundance of philosophical and life-affirming articles dotted all over the internet? People writing golden nuggets of advice (that they may not follow themselves) for the younger generation to live by. I love reading these articles and have even tried to live by some of these wise words myself, particularly as I have jumped up an age box in the form filling stakes, and am no longer in the 18-25 category. So it is now my turn to offer the sage words of wisdom and impart some of the lessons I have learned in the 25 years I have stumbled through life. Do with them what you will:

Lesson 1: You Need to Love Yourself to Be Truly Happy

In Ireland we have grown up with a culture of self-deprecation and imposed modesty but the truth is loving yourself is the single most important thing you could ever do in life. When it comes down to it, you are the only person in this world with whom you have to live with forever so if you don’t like that person you’re not going to be happy. Unfortunately this isn’t something you can magically force yourself to do – it’s a gradual process which happens over time. Once it does, you will feel the change in your perspective on life and your friends and loved ones will notice it too. At 26, I am the happiest I have ever been and feel like I am experiencing life for the first time. “Being in love with yourself” is one of the highest forms of offence in this country but there is a difference between liking and accepting who you are and thinking the sun shines out of your arse. Once you strike this balance, no one will ever accuse you of being arrogant.

Lesson 2: Trust Your Instinct and Be True to Yourself

Related to the first lesson, always be true to your best self and never make any apologies for who you are. Again, this is a concept a lot of young Irish people have difficulty coming to terms with. As a teenager the onus on fitting in at all costs, perhaps perpetuating opinions that are not necessarily your own. Considering the amount of hormones raging through your body during these formative years I think any way to try to make your life easier is no bad thing. Once you hit your twenties those hormones should hopefully have balanced themselves out and you can start to resemble some form of adult. Make no apologies for whoever that adult might be. This is a good time to discover and meet the people who share your values in life and appreciate the wonderful human being you will no doubt grow to be. The best way to do this? Listen to your gut instinct – it is there for survival reasons and will rarely steer you wrong. If you feel there is something not quite right about a relationship – romantic or platonic – don’t be afraid to let go of it. Many people will come and go in your life but the ones who really matter will stick by you no matter what.

Lesson 3: Never Give Up On Your Passion

This is a tricky one as it is easy to get caught up in working day life and feel like your dreams are slipping away from you because things haven’t worked out exactly as planned. When I went to college I was full of promise of the world being my oyster and had no doubt that I would be a nationally acclaimed radio presenter a few years after graduation. Considering I am about to sit my final exams as a Chartered Accountant in September, that plan didn’t quite work out as envisaged. However, that is not to say I have given up totally on any involvement in radio – there are plenty of community radio stations who look for volunteers. I also still try to make some time for writing which is my first love. Don’t give up. You might be lucky enough to be paid to do what you would do for free anyway and if you are that’s great. But for a lot of us, we have to tweak the plan a bit and that is perfectly acceptable. Putting a passion on hold for a bit while you try to figure things out is natural and normal. But try to make sure you make an effort to bring yourself back to it when you are ready. Someday you may be lucky enough to marry your work with your passion but until then make time for whatever it is you truly love.

Lesson 4: Art is Food For the Soul – Ensure To Get Your Daily Intake

I refer to Art in the broad cultural meaning rather than limiting it to painting and sculpting. Music, film, theatre, drawing, film, writing – whatever art form it is that touches your soul. I sing in a choir once a week and for this reason I do not dread Monday nights in the same way that others may following the weekend. For 2 and a half hours, my cares absolutely melt away as I lose myself in the music. Listening is as valuable as singing for me and one of my favourite things in life is to fall asleep to beautiful choir music on YouTube. Life without music, for me, would not be worth living. If you feel this way about something – whether it’s watching films or reading dirty limericks or painting – this is what your soul feeds on. We concentrate so much on feeding the body and the mind that the soul can sometimes be neglected. But it needs daily nourishment, the same as anything else. This isn’t quite the same thing as pursuing your passion, by the way, though sometimes the two may be similar. Feeding your soul could be as simple as watching a black and white film or listening to one rock song a night. It calms you and makes you feel at peace with life and the world. Passion is usually a bit more consuming and frenzied. It is important to make the distinction as passion can be exhausting.

Lesson 5: Life is for Living So Enjoy It In The Moment

This is absolutely key to remember. There is no instruction booklet on how to live out your life and we are all making it up as we go along. So the best thing to do is to just enjoy the ride. Value each experience as it comes along – good and bad – and try to live as much as you can in the present moment. To paraphrase my favourite author, “think on the past as much as its remembrance gives you pleasure” but don’t dwell on events that can’t be changed. It’s good to make plans for the future but don’t waste time worrying about things over which you have no control. There is no way of knowing how things will pan out until they unfold so why torture yourself with “what if” scenarios? It very rarely turns out the way you imagine it will. Do something that scares you every now and then – abseil from a building, tell someone you love them, move to a new country – there’s nothing like a bit of an adrenaline rush! Learn from your mistakes but don’t beat yourself up over them either. The phrase “you’re only human” springs to mind in this context. Laugh hard and cry hard. I have probably laughed and cried my hardest this year alone and I have come to realise that both are as equally important as each other.

Finally, listen to the advice of those older (not necessarily wiser) than you. They’ve been making things up for slightly longer than you have.

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Education

The alarm rings, I hit the clock

I look out of my window towards the dock.

I put on my uniform and drag a comb through my hair,

And wolf my breakfast in the kitchen downstairs.

I run for the bus that brings me to school

I barely catch it though I try to stay cool.

Bell rings for first class loudly in my head.

God, I wish I was still in bed.

The lessons drag on until lunch.

Then only an hour on our food do we get to munch.

Back to a stuffy classroom to learn out of books,

Trying to disguise our very bored looks.

The clock ticks slowly to twenty to three.

In a few more seconds we’ll finally be free!

The bell rings; a mad stampede out the door,

Ignoring the books and pens scattered on the floor.

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Vintage Sundays

I love Sundays. It was always a family day in my house associated with mass (of course) and family outings and roast dinners. Occassionally it was also the day when we would visit family or entertain visitors. So I don’t really suffer from the “Sunday Blues” that seem to plague other people of my generation. But there are some Sundays that are better than others, that are truly special. These are what I call Vintage Sundays.

Vintage Sundays, as the name suggests, entail indulging in everything vintage. I moved up to Dublin for work 2 years ago and during that time I discovered the joy of 1940s radio through an app on my phone. When I start the day by listening to that wonderful station I know it’s going to be a vintage sunday. The radio station is streamed online from the UK and consists entirely of music from the 1920s to the 1940s and recordings of speeches from that whole era, including WWII broadcasts and advertisements for popular household products. Nothing gives me more pleasure than lying in my bed, closing my eyes and being transported back to a time that has been re-popularised by The Great Gatsby trend.

Of course vintage sundays include trawling through vintage and antique shops, even better if it’s a bohemian market. Dublin holds many treasures when it comes to vintage shops, both south side and north of the Liffey. Living on the south side myself, I ensure to frequent The 3rd Policeman in Rathmines as well as the St Vincent de Paul Vintage shop beside it. What makes the 3rd Policeman so special is not necessarily the clothes (which are absolutely stunning), but rather the whole atmosphere of the shop. The antiques, jewellery and furniture are scattered around everywhere giving a real flea-market feel to the place. The ambiance is heightened by the music playing as you browse, which varies from 1920s swing, jazz to 1950s pop with the occassional classical albums thrown in. It really is something special to be transported back in time while fingering the fabric of the beautiful clothes. I have acquired many additions to my wardrobe from The 3rd Policeman but I have also been very happy to lose an hour just browsing through the heart-breakingly fabulous fashions of the past.

When it comes to a truly vintage atmosphere, however, there is a hidden gem along Camden Street, not far from the 3rd Policeman. The Ferocious Mingle is a bohemian indoor market which is truly something very special. It is very difficult to emphasise how special this place is. I love coming here to soak up the atmosphere and it just makes me feel so gentle and peaceful to wonder through the stalls, listening to the artists talking and laughing with each other. Oscar Verne’s coffee bar upstairs is just wonderful. Laid out in the style of a speakeasy bar, serving the most delicious hot chocolate and cakes you will ever taste and occassionaly entertaining live musicians who delight the customers with jazz music, it makes the Ferocious Mingle Arcade what it is – a vintage haven. In the absence of live music, jazz radio and swing music can be heard anywhere in the market. At the back of the arcade is a makeshift cinema which shows old style films, again a fantastic experience. I had the pleasure of watching a silent movie of Alice in Wonderland which is now 100 years old. I have passed many an hour in this bohemian gem in our fair city just sipping on rich hot chocolate, listening to live music and admiring the quirky furniture dotted around the place.

For anyone with a passion for anything bohemian or vintage, please visit this truly unique place. I am always relcutant to leave it and when I do it is with 1940s radio playing in my head on my walk home to maintain that precious Vintage Sunday feeling.

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10 Inspiring Fictional Characters

So this idea has actually been stolen from an article I read on Buzz Feed but I thought it was a cool idea. I invite all my friends, men and women to copy this and share your thoughts on 10 fictional characters who inspired you when you met them.

First up:

1. Ce’Nedra – The Belgariad Series, David Eddings

The minute I was introduced to this character in the series I loved her. She’s the feisty princess who crosses words with Garion from time to time and makes a lot of mistakes. She is also fiercely loyal and has a good heart and is a total fighter. As a teenager discovering my own personality, here was a woman with strength.

2. Ginny Weasley – Harry Potter Series, JK Rowling

In a similar vein, Ginny is one of my favourite women ever in literature. I’m a blonde but I used to have a fascination with red hair (still do) so I was already a fan. Ginny is stubborn, hot-headed and totally kick-ass. Growing up with six brothers, she ought to be. Her transition throughout the books is also believable. She starts off as a silly little girl in the early books and grows into a fiery young woman, not to be messed with. This doesn’t come across so much in the films which I was really disappointed with. Continue Reading »