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Irish Tour Day 1 - Brilliant Women and my Trusty Trolley

Updated: Mar 14

After a somewhat challenging journey (read more HERE) to Portlaoise, that ended with a late hotel arrival, some delicious food and a fairly good night’s sleep, I was raring to go with the first stop on our Irish tour – Teach Tearmainn in Naas, County Kildare. 


Yes, indeed, that bright green arrow is directing your attention to my Trusty Trolley!

Teach Tearmainn means “House of Santuary” or “House of Refuge” in Gaelic and I was delighted to join their team in their brand new offices on the town high street.  After a tricky time finding a parking space, I was extremely excited to use my Trusty Trolley to transport journals and presentation paraphenalia.[i]


Freshly painted walls and empty shelves awaiting books and files and signs greeted me alongside some wonderful Own My Life trained faciltators and their CEO Lorraine Rowan.  It was joyous to learn that Lorraine had joined the organisation ten years previously as a Support Worker, building her skills and knowledge until she became CEO.


While this was previously a norm for domestic abuse services, in the UK at least, this is becoming rarer.  Fifty years ago, collectives of women gathered with a goal of caring for women subject to abuse  These early collectives were resistant to hierarchical organising and begged, borrowed and pleaded for the resources needed to do the work.  Women supported by these collectives quickly became part of the collective, supporting their sisters with scarce resources, in a climate that rarely took seriously what was publicly perceived as a private matter. 


These collectives formed a movement of women (all hail the mighty foremothers!) who achieved astronomical success; convincing politicians and the public-at-large that abuse was a serious matter. Sadly, for various reasons, often driven by government policy, UK organisations have lost much of the power of the collective. I hope we can learn from our Irish sisters about how to protect the integrity of collective sisterhood and re-establish a movement that alongside supporting women, enables women workers to build their leadership skills (the WRN's Feminist Leadership course is one example of seeking to do this).

Me and the Teach Tearmainn team.

It was a joy, and a massive honour, to meet women who have attended Teach Tearmainn's Own My Life course.  After a presentation, in which I talked a bit about how I wrote Own My Life and shared our Irish context Intersectionality video (yay!), I invited the gathered group of women to discuss their thoughts before feeding them back to the group. It was also lovely that Anne-Marie McMorrow from Bray Women's Aid also joined us, as her organisation get ready to start delivering Own My Life.


Women shared about the impact Own My Life has had on them; helping them make sense of their lives and giving them connection with other women with similar experiences.  Friendships had flourished and lives had been joyously changed.  Lorraine shared with the group that one of the reasons Own My Life has been so positive for their organisation was that while similar group work focusses on what the abuser has done and makes it all about him, Own My Life focusses on women’s strengths, equipping women to move forward positively.


I was asked how women can support their children to flourish when they are still living with the abuser.  Particularly if the abuser plays the role of “fun dad” and leaves us in the role of “boring mum”, trying to set boundaries and stem the tide of his awfulness, both to us and to the children.  I firstly explained that anyone asking this question is likely already loving their children as best they can.  When our home is a warzone, and the children’s father is the warlord, each way that we show our children that they are loved resists the warlord’s control.  We can seek to ensure our children know that they are loved and we can encourage them to see us as a person worthy of respect and care.  If it is safe to do so, we can instigate conversations with older children about the relationships they see on TV and in films; discussing what is healthy and what is not.  If they are younger, we can tell them stories with a moral lesson about how the characters loved one another in the face of great difficulty (the Harry Potter series has much to offer in this regard).  If we have family members or friends who model healthy and positive relationships, we can carefully point these out to our children.


After a joyous few hours in Teach Tearmainn, the House of Santuary, Own My Life women past and present went off for a coffee, while I loaded up my trusty trolley and made my way back to my hotel, via a lovely lunch with a Jesuit social theologian called Kevin.





[i] What a marvellous word! PARAPHENALIA!  It just rollllls off the tongue.

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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