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Irish Tour Day 0 – Travel Travails

Updated: Mar 9

Own My Life is spending the first week of March 2024 travelling across Ireland to launch our Irish context materials. Our CEO and Founder, Natalie Collins, is posting updates here on our news page and on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter/X. 


After arriving in Stranraer from home in north east England, I woke this morning well-rested and ready to drive the ten minute journey to the ferry port.  On getting into my car and firing up Google Maps, the road closure that I thought was only overnight was actually all weekend and my ten minute car ride was now an hour and a half.  I would miss my ferry.

The diversion route!

After a frantic conversation with my accomodation host, in which I learned there were no other travel options, I called Stena Ferries, paid the £20 admin fee to shift my ferry to 3.30pm and began the much longer journey to depart from the UK, gradually resigning myself to not arriving at my Irish destination in Portlaoise until late evening.  My planned relaxed journey with plenty of rest stops was no longer a possibility.  Sigh!


I was rudely awakened from this resignation upon realising that Google Maps had taken me off the official detour route, with bright yellow signs and relatively wide roads, up a single track mountain road with few passing places, no phone signal, and (in my overly dramatic brain) the likelihood of Certain Death. 


On the Road of Certain Death, meeting oncoming vehicles came with a negoatiation; was I going to reverse (maybe into a massive ditch) to the nearest passing place? Or were they?  Most took pity on me and my tiny, extremely bright yellow, Peugoet 107 and did the reversing so I didn’t have to.  Eventually I made it to the Stena Line ferry terminal (after ignoring a Road Closed sign and a man who told me that I’d mistakenly made the detour and should drive all the way back to Stranraer which initially left me more than slightly hysterical). Phew!


It’s from that ferry terminal that I write these reflections, while I wait for the ferry to arrive.


As I was driving on the Road of Certain Death (not it’s real name), I began thinking about how my detour was a bit like life for many of us.  We have a plan. We have expectations. We know how things will be.  And then we face road closures on life's journey. These closures might be ill health, redundancy or an eviction notice. Or they might involve dealing with an abusive partner (or perhaps all of these at once!). 


We entered a relationship with our partner in good faith.  We had plans, hopes, dreams, ideas.  And he ruins that.  When road closures in life are circumstantial, it is hard enough.  With an abusive partner, the person we love most in the world - who is supposed to love us most - is shutting down our life; isolating us from friends and family, gaslighting us, cheating on us, being violent, making jokes at our expense, manipulating us, or in some other way ruining everything. It is brutally painful to admit to ourselves that the road closures in our life are not accidental and they certainly are not necessary; they are planned, to limit us, by someone we love.

On the Own My Life course, we start every session by inviting course participants to share what they are thankful for.  At first, it can be a tricky activity.  Everything in life might be dreadful for most of the group. For women still with their partner, he’s destroying her a little more every day. For women who’ve left, it’s not only her ex destroying her, she’s got the social worker, family court and school all on at her.  It’s traumatic and terrible.


And yet! There are still things to be thankful for: the friends who stick around no matter how moody he is with them; the blue sky as we walk to the group; the rain that waters the plants; the change in seasons that reminds us that nothing terrible will last forever; that cup of tea this morning that tasted so good; taking a breath in the group with women who care about us.  And breatheeeee.

There was such beauty on the Road of Certain Death.  Snow topped mountains stretched up to the bright blue sky, smattered full white fluffy clouds.  The winding roads forced me to slow down, to take in the scenery.  As I made it onto proper roads (with two full sized lanes), there were lambs gambling in the fields and daffodils in full bloom on the grass verge.


Wherever you find yourself today, whether you’re facing life’s road closures, or feeling like you're navigating the Road of Certain Death, or maybe you’re just realising you don’t even a clue where you’re going; be encouraged that there is always hope.  It may take some time and definitely some thinking, but there is a way through.

Take it from a woman who survived the Road of Certain Death and made it to the ferry terminal with hours to wait for the next ferry.


You can find where our Irish Tour is going HERE and you can CLICK HERE to find out more about Own My Life. 



All the blogs from my Irish Tour:


·      Day 0 (Sunday) - Travel Travails

·      Day 1 (Monday) - Brilliant Women and My Trusty Trolley

·      Day 2 (Tuesday) - From Teenagers to Tipperary

·      Day 3 (Wednesday) - And My Heart Got Fuller

·      Day 4 (Thursday) - Women Are Not "Hard To Reach"

·      Day 5 (Friday) - Women Are Badass

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