AL to ter ur na of tiv du e bl in
culture of narcissism
Women in Gaming
ALONG CAME POLY Polyamory in Ireland
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR GRIT is an alternative lifestyle magazine. The aim of the magazine is to provide an avant-garde reading experience that stands apart from mainstream magazines both in content and aesthetic. It provides an unconventional look at Irish society and culture today. GRIT sees the purpose of journalism to open minds and inform. The magazine has been produced by, final year journalism students at the DIT School of Media. It would not have been possible were it not for a group of creative individuals who have contributed bold content and the tireless efforts of the editorial team to bring our vision alive. These are our views, values and discoveries. This is GRIT. A special thanks goes to Kate Shanahan, Head of the School Journalism. What’s more, thank you to Michael Foley, our GRIT mentor for all his help, guidance and witty anecdotes throughout the process. Finally, we extend our graditude to Brian of www.laptoprepairdublin.net who saved us in our hour of need.
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WRITERS Aaron Hennessy Alison O’Hanlon Charlie Heasman James Hopper Johnny Byrnes Niamh Foran Ross McGovern
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LIFESTYLE The Life of a Travelling Busker
Fame and Feminism
Girls and Trolls
Top of the Pop-Ups
Islam in Ireland
Making Sober Sexy
An Agnostic and a Hari Krishna Sit Down to Tea
Raising the Stakes
Piece of Meat or Cash Cow
Devil’s in the Detail
In Search of a Better Self
trending Alt Tour de Dublin
Body and MIND
Back to the Cinema
I Wanna Be Adored
Nowhere to Hide
Welcome to Genius
All About That Bass
Big Trends in 2015
Ireland’s Mental Health
Along Came Poly
Fashion: Lofty Ambitions
Looking Back - Remembering James Joyce
Looking for a Legal Buzz
The Life of
a Travelling Busker Mention street entertainers to the average Dubliner and they’ll probably think of a busker on Grafton Street, open guitar case on the ground, attempting to supplement his income or pay his way through college. Charlie Heasman finds that there are others out there who are full-time professionals, touring both nationally and internationally and to whom entertaining is a way of life.
Photo courtesy of Tumble Circus
hat is it like being on the road half the year, lugging stage props around and living out of a suitcase? What sort of a strain does it place on family life; and at the end of the year does a belligerently sceptical tax man demand documented proof of every euro that went in and out of the hat? The best way to find out is to ask those who know...
Ken Fall is half of double-act Tumble Circus and tours with his Swedish stage partner Tina, who he met on Grafton Street in 1995 when they were both performing juggling acts. “We just clicked there and then and have been working together pretty much ever since”, he says. “I myself started juggling when I was 19 [he’s 45 now] and living in Holland. I made my way to Spain where I met up with a load of English New Age Traveller types in Valencia, started busking, and thought “Hey, this is a good way to make a living.” So I guess you could say that’s when I made my lifestyle choice. “When Tina and I started out together we did pretty similar. We’d turn up at festivals with a tent and a sleeping bag and just do it. But as we got more successful things changed. We started getting bookings and the organisers would find us accommodation, be it in a hotel, B&B or whatever. God, I must have slept in every B&B in Ireland in my time. There were some pretty strange ones and some pretty rough ones. I wish I’d taken photographs, I could write a book about them.” Ken reckons that most years he spends 70% of his time away. This year was different because Tina had a baby (his name is Caspar, and more about him later). Being away from home for so long definitely puts a strain on personal relationships. Ken himself has a son, by a fellow performer, but the constant travelling inevitably led to the breakdown of their relationship. “We still get on great,” he says, “but staying together was just not meant to be.” So what of the actual touring?
“We do two or three months in Australia every year, the festival circuit: Perth, Adelaide, places like that. The first time we went it was because a friend said ‘Hey, come over’ and we thought ‘Hell, why not.’ We bought an around the world ticket and just went. There was no money in that one, but then we started getting a name and the bookings started coming in. “Now we get our travel and accommodation paid and can fly our props out as air freight. Anything too big, the organisers will make for you at that end. We did a gig in New Zealand where they made us a wooden table; it was better than our own and we’d have loved to take it home with us but ‘Uh-huh, too heavy!’ They smashed it up and burnt it after we’d gone. “The really cool thing about touring is meeting people you know, you run across each other all the time. At any one event I’d probably know 25% of the acts. It really is like one big international family.”
By now I’d begun to realise myself just how closely knit and incestuous the whole performing clique is. High on my initial wish-list of interviewees was a guy called Grant Goldie, aka “That Man”. Grant is a mime artist and juggler, I’d previously seen him at World Street Performance Championships in Merrion Square and he is one of the slickest and funniest performer I’ve ever seen. The previous night I’d emailed him in the hope that he might be available, but at best I was resigned to probably having to talk to him over the phone. A phone interview with a mime artist was not a prospect to be relished. My fears were about to be allayed. It turned out that Grant is the father of Caspar (remember Caspar?) and Tina’s real life partner of twelve years standing. What’s more, he was around on the day, so I got to talk to him personally. Result! Now that he is the father of a seven month old baby the subject of relationships seemed a good place to start. “Yeah, it can be tough,” he said, “one year we only spent three
The really cool thing about touring is meeting people you know, you run across each other all the time.
sy urte co
r of G
ol G ant
months together. Not good. Now we’ve put on a restraint to make sure we meet up at least once every three weeks. This means planning our respective tours so that we’ll be in roughly the same part of the world at the same time. If Tina’s in Rome and I’m in Milan we’re only a train ride away from each other and can hook up for a couple of days.” They’ve just bought a house together; in fact they’d picked up the keys only the day before. Like Ken they choose to live in Belfast because the city has good sea and air travel connections, useful for anyone constantly on the move. Dublin would be equally as good in this respect but all agree that with rents and house prices being what they are they couldn’t afford to live there. There are other advantages to living across the border. Being resident in the UK means that Grant can avail of Equity (the actor’s union) membership. The union automatically covers its members public liability insurance when performing - “not for knives or fire; but then I don’t do that”- and he professes that he really doesn’t know how performers from the Republic manage in this regard. But in the current economic climate, when banks and lenders are reluctant to lend anyone anything, how did a couple of itinerant entertainers manage to swing a mortgage? “I guess we were a bit lucky. Tina’s actually a director of Tumble Circus, so not only does she get a wage, she looks good on paper. For my part I’ve always paid my taxes (I must be a socialist at heart) so my books show a regular income. Also, it just so happens that I’ve played a regular Christmas gig for the past three years and that looked good too.” He grins: “I’m not actually doing it this year, but they didn’t ask so I didn’t say. “I’ve always got on pretty good with the taxman as it happens. Sure, there might be times when they say something like “It would appear that you withdrew nothing from your account for two months Mr Goldie, how do you explain that?” and I say “I was living off the proceeds from the hat on such and such a tour. Look, I declared it here” So far they’ve always accepted it and I’ve never been audited.” So, family started, house bought, all square with the tax man; what of the future? “I intend to carry on performing for as long as I can, which should be a good while yet. The thing about juggling is that while your reactions might slow as you get older you compensate by polishing your act. Young lads might come in with all the flash moves but an experienced entertainer knows how to play and hold the audience. I’m not disappearing in a hurry.” n
Davina Devine 8
Photo courtesy of Davina Devine
The world of drag is full of surprises. But it is not all about fake boobs and painted faces. Drag has recently begun occupying a newly popular and indeed political place in contemporary Ireland and the queens leading this resurgence are fun, outspoken and completely untucked, writes Sarah Fitzgerald
avina Devine is rising to the top of Ireland drag scene with her pop-inspired routines, leggy display and party girl attitude. The last time I entered The George, Ireland’s most well-known and celebrated gay bar, was in the hazy hours of the early morning – a giggling blur of flannel, sparkle and cocktails. Located at the top of George’s Street, by day it looks almost entirely different, but hidden in plain sight is one of Dublin’s havens of full time fun. The bartender spots me lingering, frozen with a dilemma: do I ask for Dave Redmond or his drag persona Davina Devine? Finally, I decide on Davina, “I’m interviewing her”. At this moment, all I can say is “balls” (pardon the pun) but should I have said ‘him’? Ushered in to the back room, Dave is seated patiently in a booth, dressed in burgundy chinos and a knit jumper. He is smiling and his presence is both professional and laid back. Blushing, I confess my He-For-She moment, he laughs. “Neither bothers me. I feel equal parts Davina and Dave. Davina is an extension of me, albeit more flamboyant. My friends call me both.” Continuing he says, “There are so many definitions and terminologies for gender and sexuality that even I get a bit lost in the mix.” Dave started doing drag 13 years ago. “When I was younger, I never said when I grow up I want to be a queen but life is funny that way. In 2002, a friend was organising an event for OutWest, an LGBT community in the West of Ireland. They had no budget but wanted a performer. I had seen a few drag shows so I decided to give it a go.” “After this, things snowballed and suddenly I was booking more gigs. It’s a strange feeling the first time a person asks for your price.’ Laughing he says, “I obviously thought I was priceless”.
When I was younger, I never said when I grow up I want to be a queen but life is funny that way
The path of glitter to greatness is not without bumps. “After my first performance I realised that I had always wanted to perform. As a kid, I was an extra in a couple of movies, I sang in the National Children’s Choir and I performed with Michael Jackson.”
However, growing up gay peer pressure forced Dave to become introverted, “I felt I couldn’t express myself. Kids sometimes sense when a person is different. I wasn’t bullied badly, but the comments and teasing chip away at your confidence. I became quiet and reserved.” A tumultuous and tangled romance forced him out of the closet at the ripe age of 17. “When I told my mum, I was terrified and imagining the worst. In a way only a mother can comfort, she said she had always known and suddenly a weight was lifted. I honestly don’t know who that person was before I came out.” “It sounds strange but through performing as Davina I have become a more authentic and truer version of myself. Drag has opened my life up entirely.” Giving back to the process and cultivating new talent is hugely important to Dave who now runs a talent competition called Davina Devine’s Apprentice. PhilT Gorgeous was the first big success story of the competition. As a drag king, she is unique to a scene dominated by queens. Drag today is more commercial than it has ever been. But this type of performance is not a new phenomenon. Drag
has had a palpable presence in Ireland since the 1980s with queens like Mr.Pussy and Panti Bliss leading the charge. The establishment of Alternative Miss Ireland in 1987, a non-profit drag competition for HIV/AIDS organizations set a framework for new drag performers to emerge. Dave highlights its importance: “It’s nuts, but homosexuality was not formally legalised in Ireland until 1993 so these individuals were truly trailblazers in a society unready to accept them.” Today drag is becoming inherently political. Drag stars are becoming spokespersons for gay rights, marriage equality and other forms of activism.
Irelands drag scene is culturally distinct from both British and American drag, featuring classic Irish humour and story telling as part of the act. Davina says: “The American drag scene is ‘very werk it girl, werk’. Like in so many things, Irish people just know how to have better craic. In an industry where you walk around in size 11 heels, you need to be able to have the craic.” Speaking about professional drag, he says “It might all look sparkly and fun, but it’s hard work. It can take two hours to get ready for a three-minute routine.” So will he ever give up drag? Davina admits: “everyone has days when you wake up and you’re like I don’t want to do this, I just want to stay at home and watch EastEnders. But drag is my art. I can never really switch off Davina.”
TOP OF THE
POP-ups Words by Alison O’Hanlon
úán Greene arrives to our interview in Clement and Pheo from his third business meeting of the day. The 22 year old, who is co-founder of Dublin PopUp, is also in his final year of Culinary Arts in DIT, so we meet in between a cancelled lecture and his next class. Dublin Pop-Up is one of the latest food ventures to hit the Irish market and is the brainchild of Cúán Greene and Harry Colley, classmates from DIT. Dublin Pop-Up aims to provide restaurant quality food in a space other than a restaurant. The company had a very organic origin, as Cúán explained. “I happened to be doing an event for friends and family, when I got a call to go in for surgery on my shoulder one day before the event,” he said. Enter Harry, his saving grace, who Cúán admits “did everything on the night”, while Cúán did what he could with one arm in a
10 Cúán Greene and Harry Colley of Dublin Pop-Up
sling. Even in their first few events the boys have managed to attract attention from foodies far and wide, including The Irish Times Catherine Cleary. “We hosted an event in the docklands area and invited family and friends for a seven course meal, along with a few strangers through twitter, one of which was leading Irish Times food critic Catherine Cleary, who gave us an eight out of ten rating. When that review came out, interest in our company exploded and we had people from far and wide contacting us wanting to come to our next event,” he said. Cúán traces his passion for cooking back to when he was 15 and his family moved to France, where he got a summer job working in the kitchen of a local French restaurant. His love of food blossomed from there. “I’ve always had a love for cooking from a very young age. “When I met Harry in college it was a perfect match. We share the same interests and passion for creative and refined dishes.
His strengths are my weaknesses, and vice versa,” he said of his friend and business partner.
soft spot for irish cusine
Both chefs hold an impressive résumé of the kitchens they’ve trained in, not only in Dublin but across Europe. Both spent time in Michelin Star restaurants in Spain, and with Harry currently on a food tour of Asia, their menu is set to expand even further. Although the boys take inspiration from different cultures, they have a special soft spot for Irish cuisine, and it’s something which is reflected extensively in their menus. “We try to incorporate not only Irish produce into our dishes, but also focusing on nostalgia and the dishes of our country’s past, in a more refined and clever way. So although it might not be outright obvious, there are always influences of our Irishness and that’s something we are very proud to do,” Cúán said. Dublin Pop-up’s first big break came when they were contacted by Lidl and Catapult to host a promotional event in Dublin’s Temple Bar. The Lidl Secret Garden was a celebration of Irish nostalgia, but with Cúán and Harry’s unique and creative twist. The event was a huge success, with over 900 people passing through their doors over the week. With a three course lunch setting you back €10, and a five course dinner costing only €20, it wasn’t long before the four sittings a day quickly reached their 45 person capacity.
blindfolded dinner under Christchurch in the crypts, which was so unusual and a great success” he said. Managing a business with college at just twenty-two doesn’t come without its challenges, as Cúán will testify, dividing his time between study and business meetings on a daily basis. Business partner Harry finished his degree last May, while Cúán deferred a year to gain some experience in Valencia. Now with Harry off travelling, it’s Cúáns turn to take a leading role in the business end of things. “It’s definitely a juggling process,” explains Cúán, “on the one hand I have to keep on top of my college work and on the other
are “ Hismy strengths weaknesses and vice versa ”
establishing the company
“Lidl’s Secret Garden is really what helped establish our company. After that our twitter followers grew to over 2,000 and other companies started contacting us to do events for them. Since then we’ve been involved in really unique projects with Guinness, and also hosted Heineken’s “Dine in the Dark”, a
it’s the business, so it definitely divides my time.” With Cúán in the final months of his course, and Harry due home from Asia in March, both will have their focus on developing and expanding the current Dublin Pop-Up. “Although we began as a Pop-Up - and that was a great as a startup, to get out there quickly - what we really want to do now is take on the catering role, but by really pushing catering in a fine dining way, while also creating a unique experience for our client,” Cúán revealed. Catering? But isn’t that the horrid looking stuff your mother gets in for your
First Communion? No, not at all when these creative chefs are in the kitchen. “We really believe that catering has far more potential than what’s being seen right now. For your wedding day, one of the most important days of your life, you shouldn’t be happy with being served poor quality food. You should be sitting down to one of the best meals of your life,” he said. So how will Dublin Pop-Up, with two newly graduated chefs, change the role of catering in Ireland as we know it? “We want to create a space in Dublin, where we can prep on site and go to your special venue, as well as host events and cookery schools, and really throw an amazing party, all under one roof.
bright and successful future
“We want to demonstrate how high-end restaurant quality food can be served on a large scale, and not through massive budgets, but through clever thinking and keeping our style and food in mind,” he said.Whatever the future holds for Cúán Greene, Harry Colley and Dublin Pop-Up, if their past events are anything to go by these boys are headed for a very bright and successful future.Keep an eye on Dublin Pop-Up’s Twitter (@DublinPopup) to hear all about their upcoming events n Photo courtesy of Lidl Ireland
tanding in a field at Electric Picnic surrounded by people drinking beer, I stood sipping my tea, listening to Bjork, and then it dawned on me - if I can enjoy this experience as much as those drinking, then surely this moment can be relived in other settings. I guess at that moment Sober Sessions was born.” After going through a spell of depression and a break from alcohol in 2012, Áine Rynne, founder of Sober Sessions, began to experience a decline in her social life. “I realised how much of my socialising was based around the pub scene, and even though I still went occasionally, it felt like there was a void that I wasn’t sure how to fill,” she explained. Alcohol-free events are now on the rise in Dublin, from gigs and poetry readings, to comedy nights and morning raves popping up across the city.
Sober Sessions is a ‘non-judgemental alternative’ to the existing live music scene in Dublin. Áine said it gives live music lovers a new type of listening experience, away from the distractions that sometimes come with licenced venues. “There is a massive imbalance in terms of what is on offer for people socially in Dublin, although I see that slowly starting to change. “Sober Sessions aims to help fill that gap by hosting a really high calibre and diverse styles of live music gigs that cater for a broad audience in unlicensed venues,” she said. Áine said that Irish people are getting bored of the idea of having to get drunk to have a good time. “There is that mind-set, which I admit I used to have myself, that enjoying a night out equals having pints and getting pissed. People are getting jaded, and are beginning to question and see beyond that, which is encouraging to see, and long may it continue. “People are starting to cop themselves on to the dangers of binge drinking, and maybe this is the start of a new movement for Ireland. From the response I have got from Sober Sessions there seems to be a shift in
SEXY attitudes, people are starting to stand up and embrace the notion of moderation, which is great news!” A recent study by University College Cork has shown that over two thirds of Irish students are now drinking hazardously, with women now consuming as much alcohol as their male counterparts.
EITHER HAVE “ YOU TO BE PREGNANT OR DRIVING TO NOT DRINK
DCU student Stephen Hallinan grew tired of college events being based around the consumption of alcohol, and so along with a group of like-minded students, The Sober Society was founded. Now chairman, Stephen explained their motivations for doing so. “We have nothing against your typical nights out. We’re all guilty of having a messy one, but sometimes that’s not what you want to do. “Some people use alcohol to escape, or be someone they aren’t. It’s not healthy to keep this up, and being sober is an alternative, even if it’s just once in a while,” he said. The events organised by The Sober Society are “like having a night in, but with all the social aspects of a night out”, Stephen explained. “Just because you’re not drinking or hanging out in a nightclub or pub atmosphere doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing something with friends, in an alternative environment. “The initial reaction to the society was that it was for pioneers. It was seen as uncool, and something the youth didn’t want to be associated with,” he admitted. “But if we can supply a place for students to safely go and enjoy themselves then we’re happy.”
Words by Alison O’Hanlon Accents Lounge is an evening coffee and tea lounge that plays host to a number of alcohol-free events, from live music to poetry slams. Owned by Dublin business woman Anna Young, Accents gives off the feel of a “sober pub”, opening till 11pm most nights. “When I moved to Dublin I was shocked at how hard it was to get a coffee from a café after six. When I set up Accents it just made sense, because of the atmosphere, not to have alcohol. I wanted to be true to being a café and not suddenly change into a wine bar or pub in the evening,” she explained. Anna is on a mission, and that mission is to make sober sexy. “We all want a social life, but we don’t always want to drink all the time. I want a space where people can go and say ‘tonight we don’t have to drink, we can go and chill out in this alternative environment.’ “It can be just another normal choice alongside the other places you enjoy going to, like pubs and restaurants,” she said.
FEW SCOOPS The Irish are no strangers to the ‘few scoops’, and it’s a reputation that has followed us around the world. It’s a stereotype of our nation that sometimes overshadows the other culture our country has to offer, besides drinking. “In Ireland you have to be either pregnant or driving to not drink. There has to be some reason why you’re not drinking, it can’t be just a ‘no, I don’t want to’. “There’s so much more to Dublin and Ireland than our drinking culture. We’ve got to show our international visitors that our city’s culture - the music, the chat, the language, and comedy - can all be enjoyed in a sober atmosphere,” Anna said. n
RAISING THE STAKES
or a historically religious – and predominantly Catholic – nation, Ireland has an undeniable and at times worrying relationship with the gambling and betting industries. Bookmakers and bingo halls are commonplace in many towns and villages nationwide; at times completing the ‘Holy Trinity’ of Irish institutions alongside churches and pubs. The betting industry in Ireland was truly revolutionized in the late 1980s with the birth of three gaming institutions: The National Lottery (1987), Paddy Power (1988) and Boylesports (1989). The emergence of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s is also an important date to note at this juncture. Fast forward a quarter of a century and the current marketplace is a little more populated, with poker and casino play now sitting at the gambling ‘high table.’ Ireland is home to the longest-running poker tournament – The Irish Open – in Europe and the second oldest in the world. However, the danger with gambling is that although the monetary prizes may be lucrative, the pitfalls can be just as large. One organization set up in November 2011 to cater for the addicts that need for help is GambleAware Ireland. Brian Barry, Operations Manager of The Irish Responsible Gambling Board, describes how serious addictions can be. “Gamble Aware have dealt with hundreds of problem gamblers over the past three years. Gamblers usually contact us when their life reaches crisis point; maybe after a home repossession, bankruptcy, loss of job or after a spouse/partner finds out the extent of the problem and threatens to leave.”
numbers don’t lie
According to statistics found on the GambleAware website, approximately 12% of the Irish adult population bet with a bookmaker weekly. This figure is supplemented by official figures listed in the National Lottery’s 2013 Annual Report that state that 62% of Irish adults play one of their many Lottery games on offer every week. When asked whether or not the current legislation in place can deal with the modern complexities of the betting in-
Words byJohnny Byrnes
dustry, Barry is adamant in his response. “No, gambling law in Ireland is based on legislation passed in 1956. There is no real enforcement of the current legislation so it is like the Wild West here in Ireland with operators acting with impunity and facing no sanctions of any kind.”
in it to win it
Often termed the ‘soft’ side of gambling, the National Lottery until recently was under State ownership. However, a bid of €405 million from privately-owned company, Premier Lotteries Ireland, was accepted in February 2014. Incidentally, half of the money will go into the building of the new National Children’s Hospital, thus tying into the ‘raising money for good causes’ mantra that the National Lottery still prides itself on.
it is like the
wild west here in ireland
Scratch cards – an addictive form of winning instant cash – account for 25% of their income and the National Lottery’s overall sales in 2013 topped €685 million. Questions have been asked of the National Lottery as whether it adds to the betting tendencies of the Irish people. Paula McEvoy of the National Lottery disagrees. “In lottery terms, we find that the level of participation in Ireland is similar to and about average when compared to Western European and Scandinavian countries.
Paddy Power enjoying a sense of prestige or a prolonged period of success here in Ireland, Barry raises an alternative, perhaps more poignant note. “Personally, I prefer to see Paddy Power or the National Lottery doing well as I know that they are Irish-based companies that employ thousands of Irish people and pay their taxes here. This is far preferable to a Gibraltar-based online operator like BET365 or 32RED, who are making millions from Irish gamblers and paying nothing in terms of tax, jobs or social responsibility obligations.”
the next hurdle
The advancement of the betting culture on to younger generations due to the expansion of gambling apps is something that concerns Barry. “Up until about 10 years ago, you could only gamble in licensed establishments and during opening hours. However, now you can bet 24/7 without ever getting out of bed and you can gamble on events occurring all over the world.” The proposed legislation currently sitting somewhere within Government buildings will try to tackle some of the loopholes that companies are managing to take advantage of, but the level of publicity that the betting industry receives in Ireland doesn’t look like abating. Gambling - like alcoholism or smoking – is a societal problem and although there has been some success for Irish people within the industry, one proverbial million-dollar question remains unanswered: is the luck of the Irish beginning to run out? n
Paddy Power – headquartered in Clonskeagh, Dublin and currently employing over 5,000 people worldwide - made an operating profit of €15.6 million in the Irish retail market in 2014, an 11% increase on the previous year. When asked if it annoys or irritates him to see the likes of
PIE C E O F ME AT O R
CASH COW the beef industry in ireland is nothing more than a cartel. a strong statement? certainly
staged two separate protests outside the country’s beef processing plants. A 24-hour lockdown in October was followed by a 48-hour protest in November. Irish beef prices had slipped 20% in a year and were worth €350/head less than equivalent cattle in the UK. Joe Mullen, a dairy, beef and sheep farmer from Ballinasloe, Co Galway, explained the constant struggle of having to accept a price for his produce that doesn’t cover his costs. “You have to take it or leave it (the price). If you don’t take it you have to go onto the next week and see if there’s any differ-
if i brought in
a polish striploin steak
- once i cut it -
i can say produced in ireland
POACHER AND GAMEKEEPER
The IFA has a mass membership of over 88,000 farmers and is designed to provide the strength and financial resources that farmers need to have a voice. However, farmers have lost faith in the association, comparing their relationship with the ‘Big 3’ as ‘poacher and game keeper.’ Tom Divelly, a dairy and beef farmer from Moylough, Co Galway and a member of the IFA, believes farmers are having little to no say in how the industry is being run. “We’re only scraping the surface with regards to negotiating what we get for our end products. We’re sending our meat to the local meat factory but still our product ends up in a foreign market and we’re dictated by what we get there.”
LEAVING BEHIND BEEF FARMING
Words and photos by James Hopper
he Irish beef industry could be considered as nothing more than a cartel. For farmers across the country, the so called ‘Big 3’ almost has complete control of the market. ‘The Big 3’, ABP, Kepak and Dawn, are the three major beef processors in Ireland who represent the members of a wholly unpopular gathering. After months of increased tension concerning the falling price of beef, the Irish Farmers Association (IFA)
ence, which there probably won’t be.” In 2013, the value of beef and cattle output for Ireland was €2.1 billion, representing 30% of total agricultural output, and was the single largest agricultural sector. The Single Farm Payment (SFP), a subsidy paid to farmers based on stock numbers, has helped to keep farming viable. However, the system is now being replaced by the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) which means farmers will see their entitlements reduced over the next five years. “There are a lot of fellas who are broke and they will have to get out of it,” said Mullen. “If it wasn’t for the Single Farm Payment, 90% of them would have gone already.”
The idea of leaving behind beef farming is not a realistic avenue to take for most farmers. The specialist buildings along with expensive equipment leaves those involved with little choice to get out of their current predicament. In the search for alternative sources of revenue, farmers are utilising their land for other purposes. “We put some land in forestry; about 120 acres in trees,” said John Boyle, a beef and sheep farmer from Balla, Co Mayo. “My brother who was an agricultural advisor said to plant it all but I’ve kept up the beef farming. The forestry is generating the biggest money and it’s the worst land.”
Farmers are also now questioning the level of regulation that they must adhere to, specifically quality assurance. In a market where they must compete with beef that has been produced with the use of hormones, particularly in Italy and the USA, Irish producers are tired of abiding by the highest standards without being rewarded. In contrast to other European countries such as France or Italy, where meats are typically hung outside, Irish butchers must independently check their refrigerator temperatures three times a day. John Shannon, a butcher and beef farmer from Kiltimagh, Co Mayo, is one of many that is constantly being monitored. “The health inspector will come in and take a piece of meat and take it away and analyse it, even though everything has been done correctly before it has been killed, to see if we’re keeping it properly before it’s sold again.”
DRAWING IN THE HOUSEWIFE
Alongside the monopoly of the ‘Big 3,’ supermarkets are also fixing beef prices to ensure farmers have to accept anything they get. English su-
JOHN SHANNON, BUTCHER AND BEEF FARMER FROM CO. MAYO
permarkets such as Tesco and Morrisons come to Ireland once a month to give a detailed list of what they want, and the price they are going to give. If a supermarket is doing a special on a certain cut of beef, they demand a hefty reduction with the terms being non-negotiable. Shannon explains that “supermarkets use meat as loss leaders to draw the housewife in. She sees a leg of lamb for half-price or two striploin steaks for €9.99. They have to put three in a packet the next month for the same price, that’s where we’re getting caught with the carcass weights.” The most worrying trend of falling beef prices is the concealment of foreign beef as Irish beef.
When a packet of sirloin steak is accompanied by a label with the words “country of origin: Ireland,” the meat is Irish. However, if a label says “produced in Ireland,” there is no guarantee that the beef is Irish. “If I brought in a Polish striploin steak, once I cut it, I can say produced in Ireland,” said Shannon. “Once you do something with it, its Irish, but if you sell it in the piece its Polish.” The EU is planning to enforce laws this year that will make sure that the country of origin is printed on every label. The reality for beef farmers could be summarised by John Shannon: “Whatever chance the big man has the small producer has no hope.” And it is that sentiment which might see the idea of Producer Organisations finally come to light. n
Words and photos by Johnny Byrnes
a l t tour de dub l i n T “WALKING IS A VIRTUE, TOURISM IS A DEADLY SIN,” BRUCE CHATWIN, WRITER AND TRAVEL JOURNALIST
housands of euros are spent annually on new advertising campaigns. Hundreds are employed in order to keep the industry’s assets in immaculate condition. Dublin may be far from being a fashion capital of the world, yet its efforts to portray itself as an attractive tourist destination are not too dissimilar to those methods practiced by design houses in some of the more metropolitan cities of Europe. Visitors
DUBH LINN GARDENS
arrive on our shores loaded with cameras and stereotypes, hoping to gain a real taste of Irish culture. Our government and national tourism boards only augment this facade by playing to its strengths, and they do very well for themselves numbers-wise. However, tourists of a more adventurous nature looking to gain a real impression of our fair city should take heed of the advice of one Robert Frost; often the more lasting memories can be experienced
down the roads not taken. For example, if someone really wants to see a true reflection of our famous stout’s influence on the Irish people, instead of visiting the Guinness Storehouse, they should take a stroll down Harcourt or Dame Street at 3am on a Friday night. Tourism – at its heart – is a country’s attempt to paint itself in the best light. Those who venture off the map though can often discover much more in the shadows.
Paris has the Seine, London has the Thames, and Dublin had the Poddle. The confluence of an old, dirty waterway meeting a bigger, dirtier waterway in the shape of the River Liffey is a surprisingly important landmark in Irish history. This area, called ‘black pool’ or ‘dubh linn’ for those well versed in Gaeilge, is where our capital city gets its name. Covered in the 18th century, the green area that now lies atop – despite its significance - remains less celebrated than both the Phoenix Park and St. Stephens Green. This garden may be encircled by both Dublin Castle and the Chester Beatty library, but its tranquillity and the detailed way it has been landscaped makes it seem miles away from any city centre. Occasionally doubling up as a helicopter pad, this old Viking settlement also contains memorials to both An Garda Síochána, and slain journalist Veronica Guerin. With Celtic designs snaking their way across the grass, this is one open-air spot that is worth braving the April/August showers to see.
ABANDONED ANGLO IRISH BANK
Although not reaching the level of notoriety enjoyed by banks in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, Ireland’s financial institutions have certainly been in the headlines over the past five years. The demise of the Celtic Tiger and the airing of our banker’s dodgy dealings left this country on the brink. The property market was one of the heaviest hit and one antique that
sums up the situation perfectly is the carcass of the proposed Anglo Irish Bank HQ in Dublin’s Docklands. Once valued at the height of affairs at €250 million, it was valued in 2012 at just €7 million. Messrs. Drumm and Fitzpatrick were just two of the people forced to resign amid the crisis and the Irish taxpayer won’t forget the definition of the word ‘troika’ anytime soon. If any European wants to know what it bailed out over the past four-five years, here’s their answer.
chaloner’s corner Trinity College Dublin is often a magnet for tourists looking to follow in the footsteps of some of Ireland’s most famous literary legends. Fans of Wilde, Beckett and Stoker peruse books in the large libraries, whilst queues of people weave around the cobbled paths on a year-round basis, in anticipation of seeing the
artistic Book of Kells. Unbeknown to many however is that the university is also home to Dublin’s smallest cemetery: Chaloner’s Corner. Not found on many if any campus maps, this graveyard is a sight to see nonetheless, with Dr Luke Chaloner - the first Provost of Trinity College - said to be buried there.
MAGDALENE LAUNDRY Ireland is a country whose traditions are steeped in religion, but for all of the churches and cathedrals that are so often visited, one set of institutional buildings hold arguably a more poignant past. This country has been dogged recently with the abuses saga and the disclosure of stories outlining the reprehensible treatment handed down to some women during the 20th century. And all of this happened under the watchful eye of revered bishops and nuns nationwide. The Magdalene Laundries were working asylums run by religious orders, and they housed women
who were seen to be not fit for society (prostitutes, unmarried mothers, ladies with disabilities). Closed only as recently as 1996, the now derelict one on Seán McDermott Street in Dublin’s inner city is an eerie spot. Up to 150 women worked at this laundry at its peak and although questions were asked throughout the duration of its operation, the real truths have only become apparent in recent reports. However monumental the State apology of 2013 was, those who survived the ordeal – like the three-storey building pictured remain scarred for life.
BACK &cinema Words by James Hopper
nna Taylor, the creator of the Film Fatale concept is adamant in her beliefs that cinema is a medium that should be immersive in every sense. Having worked as a programmer at the Screen Cinema in Dublin, Taylor had become used to throwing on classic movie screenings. The next step was to start hosting events based on the films that were being viewed. After visiting The Sugar Club, Film Fatale found its natural resting place. The “perfect cinema” would allow Taylor to host something a little bit different to a normal screening. “I wanted to bring back the glamorous side of going to the cinema so that there was a correlation between what you were seeing on the screen and the experience
you were having,” describes Taylor. “Going to the cinema in Ireland back in the 50’s would have been your big fashion night out. Places like a Theatre Royal would have been a giant venue that did theatre, live shows, screenings; people would go to have dinner and enjoy light entertainment. The cinema was basically the biggest social hub of Dublin and then it became kind of the second option for a cheap night out that you wouldn’t dress up for.”
not just for film buffs
After hosting their first event in February 2011 to replicate the film Some Like it Hot, Taylor admitted that the automatic embracing of the concept was “quite shocking.” Four years later, it would seem that Film Fatale
wants to “ Nobody just watch The Great Gatsby... they want to be in the party from The Great Gatsby
The Rocky Horror Picture Show for 21 years, before closing in 2003, attracting hordes of people clad in typical rocky horror styled costumes, armed with water and confetti to throw for the chants of ‘Ra! Ra! Ra!’ However, Film Fatale is not a night for fancy-dress but rather embracing a vintage style. “Sometimes there’s a stigma about being overly dressed but this is somewhere you can go and be absolutely overdressed and be proud of it,” Taylor explains. Film Fatale’s journey to date could be compared to that of Secret Cinema. Created by Fabien Riggall in London, Secret Cinema has sought to theatricalise films on the biggest of stages whilst keeping the biggest secret of all, the identity of the film. Actors portray various key roles and customers are given dress codes to adhere to as they try to gauge exactly what cinematic world they are about to enter. Last July, the company recreated the set of the film Back to the Future, when a huge patch of land in east London was transformed into the Hill Valley town square. Hosting their own annual screening of Back to the Future, Film Fatale provided an insight into that exact world.
film is second fiddle to theatrics
has moved on from being just a host for film buffs. The evolution of the event’s after party saw a second wave of people being attracted, adding a whole new interest to the alternative night out. That led to the creation of Prohibition Night, an event that involved no film screening. Last Halloween, 800 people attended the event at the Irish Museum of Modern Art due to the high demand and The Sugar Club not having a big enough capacity. The aspect of costume plays a key part in making any Film Fatale event feel era-appropriate. The former Classic cinema in Harold’s Cross famously screened the cult musical comedy
Yet Taylor is keen to distance any comparisons, especially given the theatrical nature of Secret Cinema. “It’s such a huge theatrical production that you can only compare it to huge Broadway shows. Their attention to detail is an absolutely fantastic experience but in that, the film element of the event almost becomes second fiddle to the theatrics.” As part of Peroni beer’s Cinema Peroni campaign last May, Film Fatale produced a screening of La Dolce Vita. The production involved a more experiential atmosphere as actors, dancers and live bands played out key scenes from the film. After the success of Prohibition Night at the Irish Modern Museum of Art, Taylor is “driven” to put on more events for Film Fatale’s growing audience. With the importance of choosing films that would suit a party atmosphere, Taylor’s choice of screenings can no longer only showcase her own personal cinematic favourites. It is this priority that has seen a desire to create a mini film festival. Although not quite Secret Cinema, the potential festival would mostly show film screenings but also experiential events.
the sweetest home
For now though, The Sugar Club is Film Fatale’s home. After being pushed for hints as to what experiential event will lie at the heart of any film festival, Taylor was quick to shroud the idea in total mystery. “Where will this concept go next? I can’t say right now,” she says, leaving us to wait in excited suspense for the further evolution of Film Fatale.
Body n Suspe sion Words by Hilary Pidgeon
ody suspension is an ancient ritual that dates back 5,000 years. The process involves having different parts of the skin or body pierced, hooks are inserted into the holes and the subject is suspended by ropes. Native American tribes referred to it as “Okeepa” and used it as a means of passage into manhood. The young men would starve themselves for up to four days, attach the hooks, made of bone at the time, and hang themselves from trees. Those who cried out or showed signs of pain were considered to be weak. It was believed that those who were able to stay silent and wait to pass into unconsciousness would be able to communicate with the Great White Spirit. Ireland has a small but dedicated band of followers. Katie Fagan is one of the organisers of Post Modern Primitive Suspension (PMP), the only professional body suspension group in Ireland, and began her career in 2005. Katie could be considered the “Queen of Irish suspension” and says nowadays it attracts a more global, if somewhat niche, following and has become popular with artists, fashion shows and the world of modification recreation. Katie gives some explanation as to why people might want to go
through body suspension, “I think people use it to deal with a lot of pain. It’s a very extreme form, but it’s an energy release for me. I feel like it’s an energy release for a lot of people. “A lot of people are control freaks and this is the kinda thing where you have to put a lot of trust in somebody else. So it can be spiritual as well, you’re putting so much trust in another person to make sure you have a good experience. It means a lot of different things for a lot of different people. I know if I’m having a hard time I’ll do a certain suspension be-
cause I just want to take a minute for myself and stop looking after everybody else.” says Katie, “There’s a lot of depth to it and a lot of different meanings for different people.”
HANGING WITH JOE AND SARA
Joe Snake and Sara O’Sullivan also work with PMP. Both work as piercers for the Ink Factory in Dublin’s Temple Bar and, covered in eye catching and vivid tattoos themselves, are surrounded by an air of coolness which attracts attention wherever they go. Joe has been suspending since 1999, when he first began to learn the ritual in Spain. He has been mentoring Sara in the art of body suspension during her piercing apprenticeship and her new-found expertise has made a valuable contribution to the team. As well as organising personal training and lessons they travel Ireland putting on performances for those who want to see the rush, but not feel it just yet. Sitting down in The Ink Factory, with Bruno Mars’ latest song battling to be heard over the sound of tattoo needles, Joe and Sara give an insight into the wonderful world of body suspension and explain what attracts them to it as well as talking about the myths, horrors and misconceptions that abound.
Photos: Sleezy Kunst
WHAT’S YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH PMP? JOE: I’m one of the performers, riggers, piercers; I’m an all round type of guy. SARA: I just do stage management and performing and some piercing. WHEN YOU’RE DOING THE SUSPENSION TO SOMEBODY, WOULD THERE BE ANY DANGERS YOU HAVE TO WARN THEM ABOUT? JOE: No. No not at all. The scars are minimal and the tearing is only when it is done incorrectly with faulty equipment or um you know or having too much fun (laughs) and a lot of times the rip is not a bad thing! A lot of times it’ll rip just because we wanna rip it! WOULD THAT REALLY BE A THING? JOE: Yeah. SARA: Well it would depend on those who are a bit more experienced, I personally wouldn’t do it. OBVIOUSLY YOU WOULD NEED SOME KIND OF PIERCING EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE OF ANATOMY TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS? THERE’S NO WORRY ABOUT HITTING ANY VEINS OR ANYTHING? JOE: Well there is of course, but you know, as long as you know what you’re doing you wouldn’t be worried. IS THERE A COURSE THAT YOU CAN DO TO LEARN ABOUT THIS?
JOE: No you would do apprenticeships. SARA: Yeah you gotta do the time, there’s no sitting in a fucking room reading a book sort of thing that’s going to teach you this sort of stuff; it’s all hands on. JOE: A lot of people learn how to do the basic suspension, which is your back. And that’s pretty much all they’ll keep doing until somebody wants to try something new because people aren’t going to fly to another country to do it, they’re gonna practise on their friends. WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE ARE FLOCKING TO THIS TREND? WHAT GOT YOU GUYS INTO IT? SARA: Well I was always into performance, I was always on the stage since I was like two or three years old, like acting and dancing. Since I was a kid I’ve always loved performing and the atmosphere and since this is more modification based I obviously feel more comfortable with something like that. I get to have a great buzz with my friends on stage. That’s personally what it is for me even when we’re just hanging out ourselves doing things; it’s just such a great atmosphere. That’s what does it for me. JOE: The last time I did it we had a pizza party! It was a pizza party and my friend bought video games, did a little suspension here, a little gaming there! SARA: Yeah we usually have music going and
stuff like that as well, bit of a dance while someone’s hanging up there! JOE: I’m actually trying to organise another one for this month. SARA: (Gets excited and strikes a pose) Lotus, lotus, lotus, can I do a lotus? JOE: Yeah, if I have enough rope! WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT NEW PEOPLE COMING IN WHO HAVE NEVER DONE IT BEFORE? JOE: We’re all new people. SARA: Yeah exactly, all of us were. DO YOU THINK THERE’S SOMETHING THERAPEUTIC BEHIND IT SARA: Oh yeah, yeah, definitely. JOE: Mental and physical. SARA: Like I have serious back issues, ever since I was younger and having my son I never got my back sorted, he’s nine now. A couple of days to a few weeks after I suspend
is the best my back is. WITH REGARD TO BODY SUSPENSION, DO YOU THINK IT’S SUITED MORE FOR A CERTAIN TYPE OF A PERSON OR DO YOU THINK EVERYONE COULD GIVE IT A GO? JOE: Everyone should give it a go and try it. SARA: I mean it would be more a certain personality that would be predisposed to going towards it. You know yourself, there’s certain personalities that would be more likely to go to a festival or certain personalities that are more likely to sit at home and watch a film on a Saturday night. And then there are certain personalities that are more likely to go and give suspension a try. But exactly what Joe said: everyone, everyone should give it a go. It’s very liberating. WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE FOR YOU GUYS THE FIRST TIME YOU TRIED IT? JOE: A lot of people when they think of suspension think, holy shit that must hurt like hell! You know what I’m saying? We all think that in the beginning. You know, I went up and I thought “holy shit this hurts like hell!” But as soon as you touch the ground, you want a cigarette, your knees are shaking, it’s kinda like sex! SARA: The first thirty seconds I went up, I was kinda freaking out a little and it was like I just had to go against my instincts on it. As soon as I went against my instincts, man for
my first suspension I was up for, what? (Looks at Joe) About 45 minutes? JOE: Yeah! It’s just the fear, because you can be up with your tippy toes on the ground and all you have to do is this (Joe lifts his feet off the ground) and most people can’t do it. FOR THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF SUSPENSION, CAN YOU DO ANYTHING THE FIRST TIME OR WOULD YOU START OFF WITH A SPECIFIC ONE? JOE: You can do anything first time. It just depends on whether or not you think you can take a really painful suspension or a moderate suspension. SARA: Basically, can ya hack it! IS THERE ANYONE YOU WOULD SUGGEST SHOULDN’T DO IT? FOR EXAMPLE, SOMEONE WITH A MEDICAL DISORDER? JOE: Scoliosis. People with scoliosis or anything like, uh, any type of tendonitis or people who don’t produce fat tissue. WHAT ABOUT DIFFERENT KINDS OF SKIN? DOES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE? JOE: The elasticity or the stiffness of the skin wouldn’t really make a difference at all. SARA: It wouldn’t make a difference to you or your suspension; it would make a difference to the person piercing you. That’s it. It’s like your average piercing, everyone is different. WOULD YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE TO SOME-
ONE DOING IT FOR THE FIRST TIME? SARA: Mine personally would be the advice that was best for me, go against your instincts. JOE: Yeah mind over matter; just have fun dude you know. SARA: Like your instincts are to tense the fuck up and don’t take your feet off the ground. When you need to relax and just drop into it man. WHAT WOULD YOU SAT TO THOSE WHO ARE JUDGEMENTAL TOWARDS THIS PASTIME? SARA: That’s their problem. JOE: Don’t watch it. SARA: You stay in your dance space I’ll stay in mine man. You know, whatever, that’s your opinion dude. DO YOU THINK THIS IS SOMETHING THAT EVERYONE SHOULD TRY AT LEAST ONCE? JOE: Yeah of course, it’s an experience... SARA AND JOE TOGETHER: It’s a life changing experience. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD? JOE: Yeah, come get suspended! Sara and Joe start laughing. SARA: Come join the madness! One of us! THEY CHANT TOGETHER: One of us! One of us! (Burst into laughter)
Words by Aaron Hennessy
t began with the simultaneous tweeting, by David Lynch and Mark Frost: “Dear Twitter Friends: That gum you like is going to come back into style! #damngoodcoffee.” Lynch and Frost are of course, creators of the television show, Twin Peaks, and this tweet signalled the return of the show 25years after it was dropped. Why has the return of Twin Peaks garnered such attention? The easiest answer is David Lynch. Along with the announcing the return of the show, it had been revealed that Lynch will direct all nine episodes himself. Then, on April 6, Lynch again stirred the pot. He tweeted that he was pulling out of production, as Showtime weren’t giving him enough money to write the script in the way he wanted. The resultant online attention has tended toward the hysterical. It seems Showtime is still trying to coax Lynch back, but Twin Peaks is scheduled to go on without him, to the dismay of many fans. What is so special about Lynch?
Lynch is a unique filmmaker with an output of art-house films, which are beautiful, strange, mystifying, haunting, engrossing and funny among other things. The man himself defies categorisation. At the risk of sounding clichéd, he is an enigma. He’s also the foremost example of an auteur: his films undoubtedly carry his distinct stamp, and ultimately it is his vision, which guides the picture. “Genius is,” Baudelaire said, “no more than childhood recaptured at will,” and while genius may be a stretch, I think this nicely mirrors Lynch and his process. Whilst it may be difficult to believe, Lynch says that the ideas for his films, especially the more surreal sequences, just come to him fully formed, seemingly of their own accord provided he has his head right. The process of acquiring the proper headspace is something he takes seriously; since his first film, Eraserhead, he has used transcendental meditation as a means of diving into his imagination and catching the “big fish”. He speaks of directing by instinct; trusting the ideas and images that come to him without pressing them through a mesh of ideology or some such external influence. “I felt Eraserhead, I didn’t think it.” There is real beauty to such an idea. He believes though meditation he has heightened his artistic sensibilities so that he is able to trust his instincts. His output in the last few years has been stunted. His last feature, Inland Empire (2006), was perhaps his most obscure and difficult. Since then he has only produced shorts and television commercials, “for money”. It seem he has had hit some kind of creative block or crisis. Two years ago he cancelled the production of a music video for Kanye West’s, ‘Blood On The Leaves’, due to a lack of inspiration, “I didn’t come up with any ideas that I thought he would like.” Now, the hope is that the idea of returning to the world of Twin Peaks is too tempting. It is something he has always expressed a desire to do: “It’s a real pull to go back and revisit it,” perhaps Twin Peaks will prove to be the catalyst hereto absent for the past nine
Kyle Machlachlan as ‘Special Agent Dale Cooper’
years. Previously, Twin Peaks allowed Lynch to indulge and showcase certain obsessions to a degree not possible in film. In recalling a childhood fear of New York City he provides the perfect analogy for Twin Peaks, “I learned that just beneath the surface there’s another world, and still different worlds as you dig deeper. I knew it as a kid, but I couldn’t find proof. It was just a feeling. There is goodness in blue skies and flowers, but another force –a wild pain and decay— also accompanies everything.” This idea is central to Twin Peaks. We’re presented with the American dream foiled by a murder, much like in Capote’s, In Cold Blood, but here each episode plunges us further below the surface of the community where there is much pain and violence.
The original series was highly flexible and pliable. Lynch and Frost (the latter I have largely neglected; currently he is writing a Twin Peaks novel to fill in the 25 year gap) included passing concerns, fixations or obsessions, which were then developed into plot points, characters or set pieces. One such instance is in the
scene where agent Cooper gives the Sherriff and deputies a Zen sermon in the forest and highlights the oppression of Tibet: this came from a meeting between Lynch and the Dali Lama which caused the former to become, “fired up by the plight of the Tibetan people.” Such spontaneity makes it difficult to guess what quirks the new season will exhibit, but it is safe to assume that the Lynchian world will be largely similar to the original while also developing a contemporaneity that is quite exciting. If you were to try guessing what the new series will be like, the Twin Peaks film, Fire Walk With Me, seems a good place to start. After the film was made, Lynch highlighted, when Annie appears to Laura Palmer covered in blood, “’the good Dale is in the Lodge. Write it in your diary.’ And I know that Laura wrote that down, in a little side space in her diary. Now if Twin Peaks the series had continued, someone may’ve found that.” Suffice to say, with or without Lynch, the new series will build off the past seasons successes and hopefully abandon its failures n
New Year, new...everything! 2015 promises to provide us with the best of food, music, travel and sports with a few hidden gems along the way. We here at GRIT have combed through the good, the bad and the downright un-printable to bring to you the top trends for this oh so exciting year! Words by Niamh Foran
BROGA You’re a guy, you’re tough, you’re macho.... You clearly have no interest in the delicate spiritual art form of Yoga right? Introducing BROGA – Yoga for MEN. This newest male fitness craze is currently sweeping across America, combining traditional yoga moves with exercises that are familiar to most men. Focusing on core strength and building arm chest and back muscles, ‘Broga’ is tailored to men’s bodies, but women are welcome to the classes too (if they dare). With classes set to come to Ireland this year, Broga is perfect for any guy looking to get in shape while still maintaining your ‘Bro’ status.
Photo: @thakoonNY via Instagram
Photo: Eric Broder Van Dyke via flickr
ONE TO WATCH
Rising R&B star FKA Twigs caught the eyes of the British music scene in 2014, but looks set to make 2015 the year she captures the world’s attention. The singer, producer and dancer released her debut album LP1 in August 2014 to rave reviews and described by The Guardian as “a singular piece of work in an overcrowded market”. The artist addresses her rising fame in her song lyrics fans who stop her in the street: “No, I’m not that girl from the video. This is who I am.” She’s currently on her 2015 tour, with dates including London, Barcelona, Milan and Los Angeles, and the image that she has created for herself is shining through more than ever. 2015 looks like the year of FKA Twigs to sit among the top names in the music business.
Photo: Izsofast via Flickr
Heard the name? No, neither had we. That is of course until the 2015 New York Fashion Week, which had Thakoon’s name written just about all over it. The 41-year-old fashion designer, of Thai descent, set the trends for this season with his latest collection featuring length and layers in abundance. He’s been noticed by high flying names in the American fashion industry, been profiled by Vogue and had celebrities such as Lilly Collins decorate the front rows of his shows. The question now is what will Thakoon Panichgul design next? His 2015 collection features earth-toned turtlenecks paired with rusty shades and bohemian-esque slim skirts and patterns. These items resemble nothing that the stylish fashion tycoon had shown before.
THE HEALTH FOOD GENERATION
A new wave of cuisine ventures in Dublin has shown us the future of food culture, and it’s healthy! Small restaurants and cafes, which set up in the
Big Smoke, are already showing 2015 to be the year to eat green and clean, with the lunch time norm being taken to newer and much healthier levels. Staple Foods, a small restaurant in Temple Bar, which was originally set up as a one man pop up restaurant, is growing and moving to bigger and better things. Thriving in one of Dublin’s most competitive food markets, they are, as they say themselves, all about ‘fresh, healthy and delicious food and drinks’ at seriously affordable prices. Staple Foods focuses on paleo and vegan ways of eating, so the health food craze is in safe hands! Other places to root out when looking for a healthy feed in Dublin include The Fumbally on Fumbally Lane and The Farm on Dawson Street.
Photo: Tony Borrach via Flickr
Looking for somewhere different to travel this year? Searching for an experience unlike anything found in commonplace travel destinations and mundane package holiday spots? Ladies and Gentlemen, ask and you shall receive. We give you Tanzania. Home to some of the most awe-inspiring natural locations on the planet including the Serengeti National Park and Mount Kilimanjaro. Tanzania promises a culture filled experience to rival anywhere in the world. The food, the culture, the wildlife and the people are all waiting in this Swahili and English speaking wonderland. You’re guaranteed to see things you’ve never seen before, like the blood red Lake Natron in the Arusha region of North Tanzania, which has the cyanobacteria living in its waters to thank for its reddish shade. Return flights are starting from less than €950 with Etihad Airways this summer, so you’re just a hop, skip and malaria jab away from having the summer holiday of a lifetime!
That’s right, get set to have drop-kicks, line-outs and hookers (behave) shoved down your throats this September, as the eagerly awaited Rugby World Cup 2015 arrives on the shores of our friendly (off the field) neighbours, England and Wales. And yes that does mean no getting up before dawn to watch our lads try their arm against the southern hemisphere power houses! So if ever there was a time to finally learn what a scrum is, to find out which Irish players are single or not, or to just sit down and watch the “game for thugs played by gentlemen”, that time is now. So whet your appetite with the Six Nations so that come September we can have perfected our singing voices, all together now... ‘IRELAND....IIIRELAAANND’.
SMOKE smoke sells SELLS Words by Ross McGovern
ohnny Carson famously once said, “I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself.” The long-time host of The Late Show occupied the airwaves during a time when guests would proudly take a draw on a smoke and chat freely billowing a nicotine fog around contemporaries. Chat shows are still glamorous, with The Graham Norton Show standing out as an example of a modern take on the slow burn old style format, but cigarettes are a social faux-pas these days. Smoking used to be the go-to-fashion-accessory for guests on a chat show, a personal ashtray would be provided and guests would slowly socialise all the time drawing on their particular fancy. The sight of someone smoking provided an air of sophistication to the proceedings and it could be said that subconsciously it let others know that the person who was smoking was comfortable to while away the time talking with their little social group. Is it too hard then to imagine a time where a guest uses a vaping device on said show? A drink that is constantly in someone’s hand only serves to raise an eyebrow among the audience as to the sobriety of an interviewee, and that’s not a question mark any celebrity wishes to have lingering over their head. Smokers know it’s a nasty habit but if we put health problems to one side and focus instead on the attraction of having this little social prop, there is nothing that comes close, cigarettes do it best. However is vaping glamorous enough to occupy that position formerly taken up by the little carcinogenic sticks? The marketing of these devices reminds one of the decadent 1950s when smoking was the number one affectation of cool. Mad Men is evocative of this aerosol splendour. I spoke to a manager in a very well-known vaping and electronic cigarette store, let’s call him Dave. He understood how people could think that the vaping industry was trying to associate itself with the glamour of those heady days of guilt-free smoking. “I mean it’s there to see and I can understand how people could think that.” However Dave did point out a grey area: “It’s very hard to market and advertise a product without showing people using it,
I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex and rich “food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself and it has to be positive so the people smiling are there for that reason, also our products don’t stain your teeth so that’s also why they’re smiling”. The last point is a bit conceited but I can understand the former. Nobody will buy a product whose advertising promises to give them a negative experience.
the comfort of habit There’s a fine line that the vaping industry treads. In the 1950s a Madison Avenue advertising suit gave the world the idea that smoking should be enjoyed for the “smooth flavour”. One of Pall Mall’s ads at the time used the slogan “Reward yourself with the pleasure of smooth smoking”. As a smoker, if I saw this ad today I’d think to myself “You know what ad, you’re right it is a pleasure, don’t mind if I do”. A similar distillation of ideas is at hand in the vaping advertising. VIP Electronic Cigarettes touts that “if you miss the flavour or smell of your old smokes, an E-Cig can even mimic a UK or American flavour of traditional cigarettes” (like anyone is actually a connoisseur of either). This is worded beautifully though and as someone who has tried to give up, this idea of “flavour” and “smell” is deceptive, what they are really alluding to is more to do with the comfort of a habit. Smoothness, flavour, and taste are all words that are there to make you feel guilt free and put you at ease with this particularly
bad life choice you’ve made, or to put it a better way using a well-known marketing phrase: “Why? Because you’re worth it”. A lot of these images are of bland good looking people wearing semi-professional, de rigueur middle class attire set in a generic room resplendent in boring cream walls, all the time smiling of course. These images are for the smoker that is focused on giving up. It says: No messing here, just people happy to get on with their lives without cigarettes (albeit with a vague hint of an anti-depressant culture). The other side of the marketing is directed at people who want the ability to conduct themselves socially and not be affected by the absence of cigarettes from their lives. Therefore it’s all sexy girls and boys with expensive clothes, drinks and cars. There are men in crisp fitted suits with a permafive-o’clock-shadow holding an electronic cigarette like it was a little flourish to finish off the look. Women strike every pose known to fashion from the smouldering sex devil to the “I’m too good for you, so you only deserve a glance” look. It’s all style and exclusivity, or to put it another way: Add a dash of exclusivity to your life to mask the social anxiety.
classy dirty habits Fake cigarettes are only one part of vapology, as Dave told me that people start using the facsimile at the start and soon realise that there is far more value in
acquiring the professional, longer lasing version. You’ve probably seen these, they’re similar to a miniature mutant clarinet. Their marketing and advertising is different than the smaller fake amateur fellas. These are presented more as luxury items to be admired for their construction alone. The manufacturers use high grade plastics, aluminium, specialised materials, and all the other usual bits and pieces that are used to make a product unusually expensive. A similar consumer practice can be seen in the traditional cancerous hobby of cigar smoking: paraphernalia abound such as silver cases, humidors, cutters, boxes and all sorts of other clutter are part of the cigar scene. But is it just that paraphernalia, dressed up crap that the enthusiasts buy to show off. It probably says, I may have a dirty habit, but it’s also a classy and expensive one. I’m so utterly fantastic that I even own all the stock of the bee’s knees. Depending on the country, legislation is either pending or has been brought in to deal with the advertising of vaping electronic cigarettes. Many of the patents for the devices are owned by the big tobacco firms, so you can expect there will be legal challenges to bans, delays in implementation or bans being repealed outright and this peculiarity of modern marketing looks to be with us for a while. I’m done now and off to have a fag n
Re-dress: a passion for better fashion
Sustainability is striven for across all industries in the modern world, but is not a term synonymous with fashion. With this in mind, Aida Skirmantaite went , to South Studios to talk to Rosie O Reilly, a figure in Irish sustainable fashion
s I arrive at South Studios to meet Rosie O’Reilly, I find her bustling around the place, preparing for her trip to Beijing for an important conference to promote better fashion. As I wait, I examine the room: it is small and bright, clustered with pieces of fabric lying here and there. An enormous chalk board calendar grabs my attention. Scribbled on it are the dates and events for the whole year, each month thicker than the other with goals and activities planned for Re-dress.
“It’s a bit of a mayhem right now,” explains Rosie, while we walk up the stairs to find a good spot for our chat. A bit of a multitasker, Rosie is the main co-ordinator for Redress, a Better Fashion initiative, which runs Better Fashion Week every autumn since
2008; she has her own eco-fashion label, We Are Islanders and also oversees the running of another organisation called the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), which looks specifically at human rights issues in the clothing industry. It all began in 2008, while Rosie was doing a research masters in Trinity around sustainability through the Sociology Department. “I realised that I actually wanted to set something up more than continue the research, because when I was looking at European countries, there were so many education bodies, information and events, and in Ireland we were really lagging behind. There was no one talking about better fashion practice from a High Street perspective or even from a national perspective.” “In the same year, I met Kelly and Kate who were thinking about doing a trade show, and the three of us came together and we thought we’ll run this event, called Better Fashion Week, which brings everything together.”
Photo: Des Moriarty
The main goal of Re-dress and Better Fashion Week was to get the public and industry in Ireland talking about better fashion. Every year, Re-dress invites international speakers and international and local designers to Better Fashion Week to talk about what could be done in the fashion industry on a grass-roots level. Yet there is such a huge variety of issues in the fashion industry that Rosie didn’t stop at Re-dress. She now oversees the running of another organisation, the CCC, which looks specifically at human rights issues in the clothing industry. “With Re-dress, it’s more looking holistically at the issues of sustainability; crossing between environmental issues to social issues, like human rights and then also looking at the situation in Ireland, to talk about local production. The Clean Clothes Campaign looks specifically at human rights because that’s such a huge topic. So we kind of needed both organisations to tackle both parts of it,” says Rosie.
CURRENT FASHION PERSPECTIVES The fast fashion cycles are increasing the levels of production and the levels of people working in the garment industry. But to Rosie, the positive side of it is that the smaller brands and even the bigger companies are starting now to embed CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) into every part of their life-cycle of the garment. “Part of it is because they know it’s a necessity, as we’re moving into this future of depleting resources, climate change and all of the other factors,” says Rosie. “Brands are now starting to up the game as far as what they’re trying
to do on the supply chain to make things more sustainable. “But unfortunately, when it comes to human rights, we’re still in a very, very low state of affairs when we look at the amount of commodities that we’re consuming. I think the last figures I’ve read was that there are four times as many clothes consumed today than there was in 1980, which is staggering when you think the amount of people producing those clothes and the volume that the garments are being produced, and that’s kind of where fast fashion has driven us,” says Rosie.
WE ARE ISLANDERS
Photos: Steve Gallagher
As well as being the main co-ordinator for Re-dress and the CCC, Rosie is also a designer of a label called We Are Islanders – an ethical fashion label that was launched last year, focusing on fair-trade organic materials and local production. “We get our linen from Derry and Wexford and our wool comes from Donegal and Tipperary, and our cotton is fairtrade organic too,” says Rosie. Manufacturing is done locally too: “Our seamstresses are based in Dublin,” explains Rosie. Rosie confesses that the idea and concept behind the name came from the time she was building a boat: “The time I spent building was very much based around the ocean and the sea and it made me think about the idea that we are in Ireland and we are islanders, but no matter where you are in the world, you are an islander – the Globe is an island in the Universe. And if we start thinking about things in an outward way, maybe we’ll start to solve some of the problems and move forward. And with the fashion industry, as everyone knows, it’s very insular, it’s never about opening doors and sharing. “So this was really about a brand that would communicate outward and really look for inspiration around the Globe and look at the problems and use that as inspiration to tackle some of the environmental stories of our time,” explains Rosie. The first installation for We Are Islanders, Rosie used the label to talk about climate change, talking about the sea-rising levels. Rosie spent over five years researching ways to produce eco-clothing and has found novel ways to do it – she uses various unique materials for her clothing label: one of them is sustainably sourced bamboo to produce bamboo silk, which is hand-painted in Dublin in a studio in Cork Street Cooperative. Waste is another big area which can be used for alternative materials. Recently, Rosie used salmon leather for We Are Islanders clothing, which is a by-product of the food industry – skins that are typically taken off the fish at food production stage and are tanned and turned back into the material that can be used instead of conventional leather. This season, banana fibre instead of linen was used in the We Are Islanders collection. “There are many other waste products that are arriving at the industry and are accessible now,” says Rosie. You’ve got all kinds of corn fibres and you can make fibre out of corks. There’s even fibres being made in laboratories with milk waste.” n
STANDING OUT Perk Up Top Dress
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AMBITIONS The face of the Irish fashion industry is changing rapidly. A new found confidence in Irish design is allowing us to compete and succeed on a global level. Irish designers are no longer restricted to knitting jumpers and weaving baskets, they’re also dressing some of the world’s biggest names. Words by Áine Hennessy Galway master milliner, Philip Treacy, has showcased his designs on the heads of Lady Gaga and Sarah Jessica Parker, while the prints of Dublin-born designer Orla Kiely can be seen on the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. Kerry man, Don O’Neill, is getting his fair share of attention too for his label Theia, with Oprah Winfrey donning his latest wares at this year’s Oscars. The output of Irish designers in 2015 recognises the role of fashion in daily life, Up-and-coming designers jump at the opportunity to showcase their newfound skills, and The Loft Market is one
such space that allows them to do so. A boutique fashion and design collective in the heart of Dublin city, this creative hub has been platforming independent art, fashion and jewellery for the past seven years. The Loft Market is now firmly established as the place to spot Dublin’s rising fashion designers, artists, jewellers, and vintage collectors. It’s ever changing cast of creative talents have labelled it as a firm favourite space for fashion fans. The Loft Market is located on the top floor of The Powerscourt Townhouse, 59 South William St, D2.
FASHION 32 TABLE MANNERS Sogni Skirt
We are Islanders Jacket Tunic
Buffalo Shoe Labs Shoes
ALTERNATIVE LEINSTER Perk Up Dress
We are Islanders Jacket
HATS OFF TO Blk & Blu Top €34 River Island Hat €40
CITY SINNERS Emmie Lou Necklace €50
We are Islanders Dress €75 Tunic €105
SITTING PRETTY Blk & Blu Top €34 Skirt €79 Emmie Lou Necklace €38
Looking back –
Remembering James Joyce Words and photos by Aaron Hennessy
ames Joyce’s prose and poetry has established him in our collective consciousness as the archetypical Irish writer. But how did our national literary hero turn his disdain for Ireland into a celebration?
During his life, James Augustine Aloysius Joyce, isolated himself from Ireland and Irishness, rejecting popular notions of Ireland. His exile was self-imposed. His scorn of Ireland ever felt, ever salient. And yet we’ve changed; now our sensibilities seem more in line with Joyce than any wacky Yeats, morose Beckett or calculating Synge. Joyce has never been so popular. There is a plethora of events and institutions, which serve to celebrate Joyce and his work. Every year, on June 16, a surge of Joyce fans take to the street to celebrate our great writer’s work: Bloomsday is a yearly event, named after Ulysses’ protagonist Leopold Bloom, and is set on the day in which the novel’s action occurs. On Bloomsday participants sport the dress of 1904, eat the same breakfast as Bloom – a traditional fried Irish breakfast with liver and kidneys–and visit
locations and establishments mentioned in the novel. One such establishment is Sweny’s Pharmacy. In the novel, Leopold Bloom purchases a cake of lemon soap here. The exchange, and the shop, is so heavily detailed, a group of volunteers have taken over the building and have restored the history and former glory of the building, running it as a sort of museum to all things Joyce. Here seemed an obvious place to enquire as to growing popularity of the writer and why it is people are so interested in him. Speaking to a volunteer, I’m told, “It’s the breadth of knowledge and reference.” Is allusion so important? “Very much so.” What is it about Ulysses in particular that is so attractive? “Now, I’m not a Joyce scholar,” says another volunteer. “I can relate to Leopold an awful lot. Not
every facet of his character, mind. But he is likable, an ordinary man.” What about Stephen (Dedalus)? “Oh, Stephen is for the younger man,” he points to two visiting Italians who were volunteering in the shop for the day, “he’s too cocky for me.” In 1904, Joyce left Ireland for a teaching post in Zurich, which he was never given. He was then shepherded to Triste from where he would make his final few visits to Ireland. You don’t perhaps feel Joyce abandoned Ireland? “Spiritually, he never left.” This sentiment, that Joyce never could ‘let Ireland go’, a romantic notion, I think you’ll agree, rears its head again and again. Niall McArdle, in the Irish Times said, “They left in 1904… but Joyce always looked back.” We all tend to agree, and why not? We’ve become attached to the idea of
Ireland as a great breeding ground for literary genius, and perhaps there’s more than a hint of self-congratulation. Regardless, the point still stands - he did always look back, continually returning to the streets of his youth in his work. He even went so far as to say that if Dublin were to disappear it could be rebuilt with the aid of Ulysses alone. Whether he was haunted or inspired by Ireland is now irrelevant; he was obsessed with Ireland, and now we’re obsessed with him.
Elsewhere, Vincent Deane, of UCD’s James Joyce Research Centre cites the work, the art, as the focal point. “I have no doubt about Joyce’s standing as a towering figure in world literature for two reasons: first and most importantly for the depth, in which he is able to articulate the most everyday aspects of human experience, as well as some of the more rarefied ones (through the persona of Stephen), and the great virtuosity and wit with which he was able to develop the medi-
um of writing to encompass his insights.” Indeed it is his writing, and not the mythology we have festered, that allow him to transcend the parochial. Ulysses alone has granted Joyce a place in the hallowed hall alongside the likes of Faulkner, Eliot, Woolf and Proust. While he knew nothing of such prestige during his life, he has been established as a Great Writer since. Despite his prodigious skill, “Joyce is probably also the most democratic of the writers of his period, in spite of his fondness for opera and for expensive hotels. He never struck lofty attitudes and refused to ally himself with the scylla & charybdis of fascism and communism. We pride ourselves on having more enlightened views than prevailed in the 1920s/30s, so Joyce comes through as a politically-correct winner,” says Vincent Deane.
“We all have,” Michael Ondaatje said, “an old knot in the heart we wish to untie.” Ireland, it would seem was Joyce’s knot, and even if it wasn’t we cherish him and his work all the same. In 1904, James Joyce left Ireland in the pursuit of artistic freedom, with which he was duly bestowed. I, for one, am glad he left, and in doing so was able to look back, and look back so beautifully.
Let’s talk gender...
#FREETHENIPPLE Words by Hilary Pidgeon
Words by Hilary Pidgeon
omen have always been looked upon as alluring.
We are creatures of mystery to men, and while each of our bodies is unique in shape we are regarded as soft, sensual and curvaceous. And yet a woman’s sexuality is both worshipped and shunned at the exact same time. Even in the Bible, Eve is praised as the giver of life on the one hand, and condemned as the temptress who will lead to the demise of man on the other. The Free the Nipple Campaign is fighting against these negative stereotypes. The campaign opposes the notion that a woman’s body is either to be shown in an overtly sexualised fashion, or to be covered up completely. Their website describes the cause as “a film, a movement and a mission.” Cara Delevingne, Lena Dunham and Miley Cyrus, who recorded a song for the FTN movie, have all shown their support for this campaign. Celebrity men are getting involved as well; George RR Martin and Perez Hilton have expressed their support for the movement. Meanwhile Willow Smith posted a picture of herself on twitter in a t-shirt showing her bare breasts
while a topless Scout Willis roamed the streets of New York (where female toplessness is legal) on a shopping trip. The celebrity daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis explained her actions in an article on XOJane, saying that “‘Women are regularly kicked off Instagram for posting photos with any portion of the areola exposed, while photos sans nipple - degrading as they might be - remain unchallenged. So I walked around New York topless and documented it on Twitter, pointing out that what is legal by New York state law is not allowed on Instagram.” Scout took to the streets using the hash tag #FreetheNipple as she documented her topless day in NYC.
“I didn’t choose my public life, but it did give me this platform. A platform that helps makes body politics newsworthy. I am not trying to argue for mandatory toplessness, or even bralessness.” Are there not so many things far worse than female nipples that one can find online? Violence and drug use don’t attract the same level of criticism or stir up half as much indignation. There is little physiological difference between what makes up a man and a woman’s chest. This censorship is being extended even to the glitterati of the world. Female celebrities are becoming increasingly frustrated as fashion photos of themselves are banned from social media for showing glimpses of their nipples. It is no surprise then that so many of them are jumping on the Free the Nipple bandwagon.
ON THE STREETS
On the 1st June 2014, New York City experienced a protest like no city has seen before. A small group of around twenty men and women took to the streets in support of Scout Willis’ topless march through New York. They were protesting that while topless females are legal on NY’s streets, and not social media, they are still getting arrested for it, while some of the protestors donned stickers over their nipples with the FTN slogan on them, others were brave enough to go the whole hog and bare all.
Photo courtesy of Lauren Johnson Garage PR
But now the time for shunning the female body is coming to an end. That “dirty” word feminism is beginning to be redefined. When the fight for female rights began it was about work equality and voting rights. It was about the independence of a woman being respected, and rejection of the idea that a woman should be dependent on a man and that she should stay at home to raise the couple’s children. Now women are recognising a new problem with gender equality: the ridiculous double standards of attitudes towards the male and female body. This is not a campaign for needless nudity on the streets. The movement is not about women giving the two fingers to men around the world. It goes so much deeper than that. At the present time it is illegal for a woman to be topless in public in America in 35 states. This includes breastfeeding. To make breastfeeding an illegal act is a joke, and an unfunny one at that. Why is it so unacceptable for someone to see a woman’s nipple just because they didn’t actually go looking for it? Kate Upton’s boob defying photoshoot in zero
Maybe the shock value isn’t to do with the nipple; maybe it’s to do with the sensitivity of the individual that witnesses the unveiling of the breast
gravity for Sports Illustrated wasn’t treated with disgust, quite the contrary. That’s what you expect when you go looking for these types of pictures so it takes away the shock aspect. Unfortunately when it comes to turning around in a restaurant and seeing the woman at the table next to you breastfeeding her new-born child, that’s when people decide it’s acceptable to throw a hissy fit. They weren’t expecting it; no one gave them time to prepare. Maybe the shock value isn’t to do with the nipple itself; maybe it’s to do with the misguided perceptions of the individual who witnesses the unveiling of the breast. If you don’t like watching a woman breastfeed and you don’t want to see her breast, then look away. If you are scrolling through social media and come across an unexpected picture of a celebrity’s nipple, scroll on by. The chances are you did just that without even thinking about it the last time you saw a picture of a topless man. But please, please, please, do not denigrate the female nipple as something dirty that a woman should be ashamed of and keep covered at all costs. It isn’t.
Looking for A
Legal Buzz Words by Ross McGovern
“Journalist”, I said to the Garda after he asked me my profession. “What area do you want to cover?” he questioned. “Crime, the courts that type of thing” I told him. “Ah well ya know it’s all centred around drugs, still though this area doesn’t seem to badly affected.” With a deep breath I explained that I didn’t think that it was a problem that was being solved and that I thought the whole area needs a complete overhaul. He looked at me dead in the eyes as I was saying this and as soon as I had finished my last word his eyes lit up and he seemed relieved to be talking to someone who agreed with his own thoughts. He told me about the difficulties that the implementation of the legislation would have on a practical level. Specifically, this scenario: If a heroin user was using a lot of heroin that they got from a friend and then went into a pharmacy and collected their prescription and consequently overdosed and died, where would that leave the pharmacy in terms of the legal ramifications? After he had left I had one over-riding thought: Drugs are such an almighty hassle. The government recently found this to be the case too. For a brief few hours in March, Ireland legalised drugs. Not all drugs. Coke, heroin and weed didn’t make the cut but ecstasy, magic mushrooms, ketamine and benzos all made the list. Impromptu parties were organised and people got down to legal pill-popping. One reveller noted that it was thought provoking to see so many people doing what only a few hours ago had been illegal. Unfortunately that window of opportunity has now closed. The reason it was opened in the first place goes back to emergency legislation that was passed by the government back in 2010. A ministerial order was placed to add head shop’s drugs and others to the 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act. A three judge ruling in the Court of Appeal deemed that because it hadn’t gone through the Oireachtas, it was in breach of article 15 of the constitution, meaning that those 125 drugs that the legislation was meant to cover had just become legal. Buying and selling was still
If some idiot downs toilet cleaner to get a buzz, why not let him buy GHB in its pure form
with a Toilet Cleaner, a Cactus and Mad Alice illegal, just not possession. All that is over now, but those events have added a sense of realism to the debate surrounding legalisation. The question remains: What is legal these days? To answer this question I needed to find someone who was used to taking drugs. These people are known as psychonauts. I made contact with some old ‘friends’ who were sure they could help me find the right person to talk to. About 15 years ago I would have been going to clubs and indulging my 20 year old brain in substances although being very conservative compared to others. When you’re a young foal gambolling through the club scene you meet people who appear on your list of contemporaries only to fall away after your time on the scene ends. On a Tuesday afternoon I reconnected with one of these people that I hadn’t seen in over a decade. It was a bit awkward and depressing as this person wasn’t able to keep a thought in their head for more than a few seconds. They drifted off on incomprehensible tangents and seemed at odds with themselves to find a comfortable sitting position. They did however give me a lead: Mad Alice. Supposedly it was a mixture of two herbs that when combined and smoked became psychoactive. I made contact with another psychonaut through the subreddit r/crainn and asked him about this
possible legal loophole. He said that many substances are commonly available and have a psychoactive affect but aren’t well known. He told me that Mad Alice isn’t a combination of two different herbs but instead is a combination of a few. I asked if illegal and he told me that any combination of herbs or seeds that get you “off yer box” is covered and even if they are bought separately and you combine them yourself, you’re then in possession of a psychoactive substance which is a big nono in legal terms.
However he did tell me about the other options. “There are plenty of highs available. Pop down to Home Base and get heavenly blue morning glory seeds for lsa, beware though some seeds can be dipped in poison, just munch ‘em down, or if they have any San Pedro cacti in stock for mescaline, a little more difficult. I think you can get GHB from toilet cleaners too.” Here we have the crux of the legalisation argument: If some idiot downs toilet cleaner to get a buzz, why not let him buy GHB in its pure form. He’s not going to stop being an idiot, but we can alter idiotic laws. If I am to get high I’m not going to bother doing any of this malarkey, I’ll go to a friend of a friend of a friend and get a bit of weed. On the whole it’s has to be safer than hitting up Home Base for some poison laced cactus.
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lifestyle Photos by Sarah Fitzgerald
Feminism is here and trending. Dynamic , and inclusive, it is a part of today’s media landscape, from politics to music, reaching larger audiences than ever before in history, writes Sarah Fitzgerald
eminism has never been more popular as the goal of equality between the sexes becomes ever closer to being within our reach. However, many still do not understand that it is a movement supporting the political, economic and social equality of the sexes. Celebrities like Emma Watson, Beyoncé, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Taylor Swift, Mindy Kaling, Laverne Cox and many more are transforming the ‘dirty F word’ in to a celebrated women’s movement, trampling the stagnant stereotypes of feminists as hairy, man-hating, shrieking harpies. Fingers crossed they might just be the spoon full of sugar needed to make the equality go down. Recent triumphs include numerous feminist twitter tags trending globally, providing a platform for millions of women and men to share their stories on issues such as rape, victim shaming and domestic abuse.
What’s more, Emma Watson, the UN goodwill ambassador delivered an impassioned speech before the UN announcing the ‘He For She’ campaign. It aims to unite men and women in the feminist movement and help women achieve equality throughout the world. The ‘He For She’ campaign has been watched over 11 million times and has sparked 1.2 billion conversations on social media. One such conversation: can men be feminists? In Professor Michael Kimmel’s book, The Guys Guide to Feminism, he says, “Feminism is not a zero- sum game. If women win, men do not lose.” Kate Murray is a supporter of the Irish Feminist Network, she describes her transition from “slut” (feminists are reclaiming this word) to feminist. “I simply realised if you are neutral in situations of injustice then you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Kate says, “I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminists. But, how could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal society when feminism is a ‘bad’ word.” Feminism is about choosing solidarity. Fathers, sons and brothers have as much of a role to play in achieving it as we do.” Currently there is an on-going discussion regarding the media’s sexualisation and objectification of women. Mother and feminist activist Loraine Martens says, “The media and popular culture can
A discussion of equality
sell women and girls a hurtful lie about their personal value. It is based solely on appearance and ability to seduce and be sexy.” Continuing she asks, “Did you know that if Barbie were a real woman she would 5 feet, 9 inches with a 39-inch bust, but only an 18-inch waist, a tiny shoe size of 3 and she would have to crawl on all fours because her body is so small it couldn’t support her head? It seems unreal that this can be a symbol of femininity and womanhood for young girls. The media perpetrate a similar beauty ideal that is either unachievable for most women or unrealistic due to editing.” In Ireland, one of the main issues relating to women rights is abortion. Currently the Irish constitution prohibits abortion even in cases of rape or fatal foetal abnormalities. Elizabeth Cassidy is feminist and follower of the National Women’s Council Ireland, “I realise that abortion is and will always be highly contentious issue. I would never tell a woman what to do but I believe a woman has a right to her own body. I am feminist because I want to see women and their bodies respected.”
Join the discussion: Top 10 FemTags #YesAllWomen #YouOkSis #AllMenCan #BringBackOurGirls #SurvivorPriviledge #WhyIStayed #MediaWritesWOC #DudesGreetingDudes #AskHerMore #RapeCultureIsWhen
Elizabeth contends that there is “deeply worrying rape culture” that has emerged and that “Rape remains a chronically underreported crime.” The global campaign, One Billion Rising, has sought to end violence against women. Their call of action is based on the staggering statistics that one in three women across the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. This equates to one billion girls and women.
It has been asked: Have women in the Western world achieved equality? Elizabeth categorically disagrees. “Women are still paid less, abused more, are more likely to be raped, more likely to be sexually assaulted, less likely to hold positions of power in government or business and more likely to be discriminated against in the workplace.” Continuing she says “There are still places where women are seen as second-class citizens. I want people to realise having a daughter is as good as having a son, a lot of the world still does not see it this way.” In 2014 Malala Yousafzai accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. She was shot in the head three times by the Taliban in 2012 for standing up for her right to education in Pakistan, a place where girls are often banned from attending school. Since then, Malala has resiliently fought for young people’s universal access to education, ensuring that all young girls have these essential opportunities and are free of violence and oppression. Being truly humble, after receiving the award she went straight back to chemistry class. Feminism has made a robust comeback in to mainstream discourse growing from a hushed conversation into a roar. Suddenly feminism is being discussed by more of us and heard as never before. Finally an acceptance. n
GIRLS AND TROLLS
Words by Victoria Tiernan amer girls are somewhat mythical creatures. The clichéd adolescent male has typically dominated the gaming market.
48% OF GAMERS ARE FEMALE
Recent years have seen the gender gap in videogames shrink boldly. Research conducted by the Entertainment Software Association highlight that 48% of American gamers are female. That’s just under half and it’s no US phenomena either. The mobile gaming industry has been driven chiefly by a female consumer base on a global scale. The diversification of gaming has created a reactionary, cultural war among self-identified ‘gamers’. With the battle lines being drawn between fundamentalists who oppose censorship and those fighting for more accessible games that reflect women, LGBT members and ethnic minorities. The tension created by female imposition, in the typically male field, has fuelled a unique wave of resistance called #gamergate. The Twitter based controversy is a chaotic, leaderless online movement labelled by one advocate as a “consumer revolt, a protest, a discussion, a movement, a number of politically motivated groups, etc. it’s a lot of things.” Since jerking into action, protestors have fixed on
contesting corruption in journalism. Its roots, however, lie in a harassment campaign versus an obscure indie game developer. Some commentators argue that the movement is little but a sexist channel for quashing female concerns about issues within the videogames industry. “thezoepost” sparked the transnational protest last August. The 9,000 word blog post details the dejected programmer Eron Gjoni’s breakup with game developer Zoe Quinn. Gjoni claims that Quinn cheated on him with Kotaku journalist Nathan Grayson. The post fired up concerns that this led to more favourable coverage of her game Depression Quest.
ACTUALLY, IT’S ABOUT ETHICS
Collusions between developers and journalists since became the permissible gripe of Gamergate, fuelling anxieties about ethics in videogame journalism. The sprawling nature of online protests means that Gamergate has no definitive focus as such and, despite firm Wikipedia avowals, the movement cannot be neatly defined. Its followers range from those exploiting the movement to harass women to those justly concerned with ethical issues in videogaming journalism. “I use the hashtag frequently and write boycott emails from time to time” says @TinyPixelBlock who is
the diversification of gaming has created a reactionary
cultural war among self identified gamers 44
a member of Gamergate. He wishes to be identified by his online Twitter handle to avoid doxing or being “mobbed by some trolls.” PixelBlock thinks that people are fed up with “rampant, journalistic laziness.” He says that journalists have an inability to be objective; “The ‘big issue’ is one that has long plagued VG media: professionalism.” “We’ve had cases of VG media being ‘in pocket’ of the VG publishers they cover, catering to them instead of the consumer.” “This whole thing could end in a jiffy” PixelBlock says. “When PC Gamer and The Escapist took up new ethics policies, they were applauded!” Mounting concerns have led to gaming sites publically altering their policies, with PC Gamer disclosing a new ethical code. The protest is less disorganised than a casual glimpse may suggest. Campaigns and attacks have been organised through various Reddit boards, and chan threads. “In an odd sense, #GG is a community. People share articles, look out for the ‘big voices’ and talk freely as if friends” said PixelBlock. “As far as organisation goes, boycott lists and calls to support fundraisers/thunderclaps are the extent of coordination” he says. “Everyone avoids ‘offending’ sites, whilst putting pressure on their advertisers to pull out. PixelBlock hopes that gamers can force journalists to address ethical issues by interfering with their money.
Many game writers have averred that the grumbles about ethics are little but a mask to conceal a misogynist movement. However, protests are always made up of individuals with varying levels of dedication, and
I am often forced to turn off my computer and avoid facebook twitter and email
some may be lured into extremism. Within Gamergate, there is a minor faction fixated on targeting women within the industry. Their actions serve to detract from the genuine concerns about ethical practises within videogame journalism.
TROPES VS. WOMEN
Quinn is not a lone example of misogynist targeting by the movement. A YouTube series entitled Tropes vs. Women in videogames created by Anita Sarkeesian to examine gender issues has led to death and rape threats against her. The subgroups violence peaked in October, when an activist revivified a 1989 tragedy where 24 women and four men were shot by gunman Marc Lépine in Montreal. The gunman claimed he was “fighting feminism”. Cultural critic Sarkeesian was forced to cancelled a talk at the Utah State University when an anonymous email threatened to carry out a “Montreal Massacre style attack.” In a post on her Kickstarter page in January, Sarkeesian noted the emotional toll that the inexorable online harassment had on her during 2014. “Every time I post anything online there is a predictable wave of harassing messages in response. However, when I publish an ep-
isode of Tropes vs. Women in Video Games the vicious wave of harassment can carry on for weeks or even months.” “Instead of the satisfaction that typically comes with completing and publishing a big project, I am often forced to turn off my computer and avoid Facebook, Twitter and email, sometimes for days at a time. In addition to the sexist harassment, the death and rape threats have been persistent and have ranged from annoying to criminal.” Sarkeesian is going nowhere and her notfor profit organisation, Feminist Frequency, will tackle issues of male representation in videogames in 2015.
GIRLS COME TO PLAY
Sarkeesian is not infallible and neither are those involved with #Gamergate. What fanatics within gamer gate fail to grasp is that civil debate requires reasoned discussion to overcome cultural disputes. This infantile subgroup is solely fixated on the harassment of women and they have closed themselves off from debate; they are entirely defiant to the notion that women may even hold an opinion about videogames. Without debate, they are nothing but a group of agitators throwing their controllers at the screen because the girls have come to play n
Photo courtesy of Anita Sarkeesian
Islam in Ireland Words by Aine Hennessy
Ireland is my home. It’s where I grew up and where I learned to appreciate myself and my faith in a place where everything about me, and who I was, was different but never seen as wrong
aleen Anjum moved to Ireland from Pakistan when she was just four years old, where she had a happy upbringing as a young Muslim. Here she attended a Catholic school in Carlow where religion was a huge part of the curriculum, an experience which she now considers “invaluable”.
“I still know way too many ‘Alive-O’ songs and stories, which is hilarious, but kind of interesting. My parents and I were given the choice of whether or not I had to sit in during this time, but they wanted to let my siblings and I stay, not necessarily to participate, but just to listen. “To expose your children to another faith like that is invaluable, now that I look back. My parents could do it with confidence too, because they put in a lot of quality effort in educating us about our own religion and in nurturing the true Islamic values in us, so it was cool to learn about what my friends believed in too,” Aaleen said. The twenty-two year old has always found Ireland accommodating to her beliefs; a sign of the country’s development into a multicultural society. There are about 50,000 Muslims living here today, with that number projected to increase in the future. “Integration comes with mutual respect and understanding of one another’s collective struggles and journeys. It happens as a consequence of active dialogue, accommodation and inclusion. I think the Irish people really do acknowledge that, as do the Muslims in Ireland. “If you look around, there’s probably a Mosque in almost every Irish town or city, from the biggest Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh in Dublin, to the smallest ones in random places like Bandon in Cork,” she said. Discrimination or prejudice because of her religious beliefs was something Aaleen never really experienced in Ireland. “Sometimes I wonder if that was because Carlow was a really nice community where people weren’t as intimidated by my mum’s hijab, or the colour of our skins, because they knew us all really well as respectable and contributing members of the society regardless of our appearance or religion.” Aaleen moved to Saint John in Canada after she finished secondary school in Carlow. It was only then that she started to wear the hijab, clearly identifying herself as a Muslim woman in the western world. “Ireland kind of sits outside the bubble of Islamophobia that a lot of other Western countries are currently shrouded in. Not to say that that kind of environment doesn’t exist in Ireland, but it’s just not as aggressive or propaganda based. “Canadians are generally very accommodating and respectful of individual differences, but from time to time some of the anti-Islamic propa-
ganda and fear mongering that’s so rampant in the States does seep past the border. “I think because I started to wear the hijab in Canada I very clearly identify as Muslim, so awkward and uncomfortable glares and glances are more apparent to me now. As a Muslim woman, my freedom lies in my choice to cover, in my personal choice to adhere to something greater than any fashion trend. There’s nothing more empowering than that,” she said. Imam Ibrahim Noonan, formerly Michael Noonan, converted to Islam in 1991, and is the first Irishman to become an Imam. Once a devout Catholic, the Waterford native is now head of the Muslim community in Galway. Abrahim says Muslims can practice their faith peacefully here because the nature of the Irish people is “one of acceptance and tolerance”. Recently, however, he has noticed a change in mood after events such as the Charlie Hebdo shootings in France, and media coverage of militant group ISIS. “I remember walking to the mosque the morning after Charlie Hebdo. I’m quite visibly Muslim, and I could feel the tension and the anger of the people as they looked at me. This made me sad. “Has the Islamic world gone mad? Yes, but is this the teaching of Islam? No. If people take the time to study Islam they will see this. I hope the Irish
people will maintain their tolerance, good will and love,” he said. Ibrahim stressed the importance of integration; for Muslims to get involved and become part of Irish society. “I’m seeing worrying signs in certain parts of Dublin of what happened in the UK in areas such as Southall and Bradford, which are predominantly Muslim. Many won’t integrate because they have no English. This is dangerous. It creates more walls, a sense of “them and us”. “The Muslim community must speak the language of the country; they must integrate and get involved. It doesn’t mean they have to go to pubs at night time, it just means that they have to be able to communicate, to say hello, good morning, how are you and so on.” Daniyal Daud came to Ireland eight years ago from Pakistan. Now 27, Daniyal is in full time education studying journalism in Griffith College. He spoke about his decision to work in media. “I feel it’s my duty to tell Muslims in Ireland to forget everything they were taught by the extremists. Forget Shariah law, leave it back home and start a new life here. If you want to practice Islam here, then practice it. They allow you to do so better than your own country, so we have to respect that,” he said.
Daniyal finds the cultural difference to be the main obstacle in the way of integration between the Muslim community and the larger Irish community. “If I’m attending five daily prayers in a mosque, then I’m not spending time with the people I work with, or the people I’m studying with, and I’m not integrating with the community. I see this happening with some of my friends. “There is a cultural difference: Muslims do not drink alcohol. I go to pubs sometimes; I don’t drink, but I sit with my friends and I have a coke. I always try to encourage my Muslim friends from Pakistan or the Middle East to do the same, just to socialise. If you want to live here then you need to know how to meet people,” he said. Daniyal thinks that the Irish media have done justice to the viewpoint of Muslims in recent times. “Irish newspapers were very fair after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. The thoughts and opinions of Muslims were featured heavily for about two weeks after. We can say what we want to say here. “In other countries, like the United States, you have CNN and Fox News, where all they have to say about Muslims is ‘Something is wrong with them, they want to do damage, they want to harm people.’ But if we continue on this path in Ireland then we’re setting an example to the rest of the world.” “Yes, there may be some teenagers leaving Ireland to fight in Syria, but the vast majority of Muslims here who are just trying to live peacefully among Irish people.”
AN AGNOSTIC AND A HARE KRISHNA SIT DOWN TO TEA Words by Victoria Tiernan
ISKCON members engaged in a bhajan in Vienna
hrough the window of a passing Luas, I spied a man garbed in a saffron Dhoti. He exited Govinda’s, a Hare Krishna temple that sits not upon the banks of the sacred River Ganges, but rather the River Liffey, which also happened to be my destination. Hare Krishna branched out from India some 50 years ago, and its followers have frequently been seen up and down the streets of many Western cities since. Dublin is no exception, with the Eastern religion taking root here in the 1970’s. Greeting a man behind the counter at Govinda’s, I stated that I was there to meet Mayesvara. The request sounded somewhat stale. I had been schooled on the pronunciation of the monks name – ‘my-lsh-va-ra.’ My hosts marked hesitation indicated that my rehearsals had been in vain.
meeting the belfast monk
The Belfast monk, Mayesvara Das Brahmacari approached. Devotees adopt not only their beliefs from Indian culture, but also their dress. Mayesvara was clothed in a simple saffron cloth, his head shaven and was sporting a Tilak; a clay facial paint that signifies the body as a house of God. The Krishna Consciousness movement was founded upon the core beliefs of India’s traditional religion: Hinduism. Established to spread the practise of bhakti yoga, followers dedicate their thoughts and actions to pleasing the Supreme Lord, Krishna. “Krishna Consciousness is a spiritual movement designed to re-establish our relationship
with Krishna,” Mayesvara explains. “We are eternal…the soul has always existed, it can never be reborn and cannot die. At the moment we are in a psychical realm, the idea is to reconnect with Krishna.” The first devotee to brace Ireland did so in the 1970’s on the back of a motorbike hoping to meet Gay Byrne. Despite his fruitless bid to appear on The Late Late Show, his endeavour dispels the notion that Hare Krishnas shy away from all aspects of Western society – such as technology. “Technology is Krishna’s energy too” says Mayesvara. “If you use it to become more entangled in illusory distractions then that’s not good… but technology can be used to spread Krishna Consciousness.” Another follower, Pushpa Gheenah, thinks the use of technology within the faith centres around the user’s intentions. “Technology is very important because we need to propagate Krishna’s message so we still use sites such as Facebook for posting about events,” she says. “We don’t use technology to promote our own self ego; we use it to promote Krishna, who is actually glorious”Mayesvara adds. Ascending the stairway that divides the restaurant from the Temple, we are met with a modest offering of shoes laying in wait outside the sanctuary. Slipping off my Converse, I treaded in for the Kirtan.
dust on the heart
Kirtan is a chanting session often described as a cry from the heart of a devotee willing to be reunited with the Supreme. The founder of The Hare Krishna Movement, A.C. Bhaktivedanta
Swami Prabhupada, described chanting as a ‘process for clearing the dust accumulated on the heart.’ Within the temple, I opted for a seat skirting the room walls. The handful of attendees swelled as the hours drove on until little floor space remained. Latecomers bowed at the altar. Pushpa describes chanting as a process of purification; “even by hearing [it], you are affected.” “It’s purifying because the mantra is Krishna’s name. It is Krishna himself. Once you start chanting you see the difference.” Discontent to stew in neutrality, I also chanted the mantra. The words expressed hung on a framed canvas above the altar adorned in Hindu iconography and depictions of the founder Prabhupada. “This is Krishna’s pastime,” Mayesvara beamed. “Krishna is personally present when people invoke his name. He is giving himself to the people in the form of sound vibrations and when people hear that sound…it resonates with the soul.” Mayesvara says he has witnessed God through chanting. No such miracle befell me. Yet, be it the meditative upshot of relentless chanting or the resonation of the Supreme Being within the temple, the experience was wholly soothing. It’s doubtful that I will now shed my agnosticism but the encounter makes me think that we have lessons to learn from the East, be it taking time to explore our spirituality or reflecting upon our daily practises. Either way, I left the temple with a lighter heart and a beautiful slice of Govindas chocolate cake. n
ONE BIG MYTH OR A TRIP DOWN REINCARNATION STREET? Words by Martin Phelan
ave you ever been dead? No. So wouldn’t it be safe to assume that you wouldn’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about?” Many will agree with this tongue-in-cheek statement from American comedian Bill Burr, but are we actually getting closer to an understanding of what may or may not happen after we die? A study sponsored by the University of Southampton into near-death and out-of-body experiences revealed some peculiar findings. The study involved PRINTERS AD for Mark 11:13 2,060 patients from19/11/2014 15 hospitals in the UK, the USA and Austria.
It found that the themes relating to the experience of death appear far broader than what has been understood so far.
WHEN I DIE...
The study’s lead author, Dr Sam Parnia, cited one particular case that was “validated and timed using auditory stimuli during cardiac arrest.” “In this case, consciousness and awareness appeared to occur during a three-minute period when there was no heartbeat. This is paradoxical, since the brain typically ceases functioning within 20-30 seconds of Page the1 heart stopping and doesn’t resume again until the heart has
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been restarted. Furthermore, the detailed recollections of visual awareness in this case were consistent with verified events.” Cases such as the one discussed above by Dr Parnia were rare however and occurred in only two per cent of the study. Yet, as he says himself, the study does open the door for further research to be done. The theory that we don’t die immediately certainly opens the door to reconciliation between science and an afterlife. What that afterlife might look like is very much guesswork though. The website Adherents.com claims to reference over 4,300 religions across the world. There is an element of crossover between many of these faiths as regards theories of the beyond but such a diversity of ideas clearly demonstrates humanity’s curiosity and fear of what comes after this. The famous Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud used the word thanatophobia to describe people’s fear of death. However, he also said that this fear was an illusion. “No one believes in his own death,” wrote Freud in his essay, Thoughts for the Times on War and Death, “or to put the same thing in another way, every one of us is convinced of his own immortality”. Ernest Becker, a cultural anthropologist, disagreed with Freud and believed that death anxiety was very real. In his Pulitzer-Prize winning book of 1973, The Denial of Death, Becker wrote that death was actually our most profound source of concern and that many phobias that people have stem from this basic fear. Freud and Becker’s theories aren’t all encompassing though. There are
many examples of people who have, to borrow Christopher Hitchens’ line, “stared death in the eye” and accepted it without fear.
In his final book Mortality, which he did not get to complete before he passed away, Hitchens spoke about ‘living dyingly’ as he coped with cancer. “The absorbing fact about being mortally sick,” he wrote, “is that you spend a good deal of time preparing yourself to die with some modicum of stoicism, while being simultaneously and highly interested in the
No one believes in his own death
business of survival.” Hitchens describes the way he acted in life as “burning the candle at both ends and finding that it gives a lovely light.” This affirmation almost gives the impression that he regretted his lack of attention to his health (Hitchens was a heavy drinker and smoker) but mostly tells us that he was quite content with the choices he made. With what little we know about what happens after death, perhaps the outlook painted by Hitchens is the most insightful opinion we can, however, pay heed to. Others believe that we should just cast death a cold eye, especially since nobody who speaks about it has the slightest idea what they’re talking about.
DEVILâ€™S IN THE DETAIL Martin Phelan discusses exorcism and The Dark Sacrament with author David M Kiely
avid M Kiely, a man who has written extensively on the subject of exorcism, finds that Hollywood’s depiction of demonic possession is often banal and sensationalized. “When you get in, it’s boring, at least the ones I went to,” says Kiely. “You don’t feel anything, you don’t hear anything. It’s people praying and the priest does his usual mass. There’s no writhing around on the ground or tearing hair out.”
Two of the most influential stories of exorcism from the past century – at least from a popular culture perspective – are those of Roland Doe and Anneliese Michel. ‘Roland Doe’ is a pseudonym given to a boy who was a victim of demonic possession in the late 1940s. His case was influential in the writing of the book The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty in 1971; this was subsequently – and very successfully - adapted for the big screen in 1973. While ‘Mr Doe’ is believed to have led a seemingly ordinary life after his ordeal, Anneliese Michel was not so fortunate. She had her supernatural experience in 1975 and died the following year due to a lack of medical care. Her story and the subsequent court case surrounding the nature of her death inspired the 2005 movie, The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Kiely’s cultural offering on the topic of exorcism comes in the form of a book published in 2007 The Dark Sacrament which he penned with his wife, Christina McKenna. McKenna and Kiely seem like the ideal pair to have written such a book, as their opposing views and experiences make for quite an intriguing read. McKenna claims to have encountered the supernatural twice in her lifetime; when she was eleven, she believes that she and her family were visited by a poltergeist and many years later she had another encounter with a spirit as she slept. Kiely on the other hand considers himself a sceptic but he says that he leaves a small window open in his mind to the idea of the supernatural. The possessions of ‘Roland Doe’ and Anneliese Michel have been largely dismissed as cases where two people were suffering from undiagnosed mental illnesses. Despite reassurances that today’s medical services are more than capable of identifying and treating someone who is suffering from a similar psychological ailment, alternative methods - including exorcism – are still practiced to this day. One area of society where exorcism is still prevalent is the Church. Pope Benedict XVI gave the practice a renewed prominence during his term in papal office and Pope Francis has continued this positive stance. In the summer of 2014, the Argentinian was reported to have formally recognised the International Association of Exorcists, which is a group of 250 priests who engage in the practice of expunging demons.
find that the people who
are a bit too
voluble are the bullshitters
However, as Kiely and McKenna found out during their research for the The Dark Sacrament, the re-popularisation of exorcism amongst the high-level ecclesiastical community has not brought about a comparable
level of openness to discuss the supernatural in the Irish church. “I wrote to each of the 24 dioceses of Ireland, north and south of the border,” explains Kiely. “Of those only one bishop wrote back to me.”
The Dark Sacrament describes ten cases of people who claim to have encountered demons or poltergeists in Ireland and it relies on the work of Reverend William H. Lendrum and another priest who was given an alias. Unlike the majority of bishops in each of Ireland’s dioceses, these two men were very open about the practice of exorcism. “The clergymen we spoke to were very honest and told us not to commit ourselves to any one story,” explains Kiely. “They told us [what was happening to the victims] could have been anything.” But even with that in mind, is it possible to tell if someone is giving you an honest account of what happened to them? “You have to use your intuition,” says Kiely. “You’ll always find that the people who are a bit too voluble are the bullshitters.” Although he takes a level-headed approach when analysing these matters, Kiely says he did have his scepticism regarding exorcism shaken at one point. “The case was called ‘The Pit Beneath the Hearthstone’,” Kiely describes. “That was a terribly scary story.” The tale involved a man who moves back to his ancestral home with his wife and children. Before long they begin to be tormented by a supposed demon living under the fireplace. Bibles were thrown from their shelves, doors flew open and shut seemingly of their own accord and footsteps were heard throughout the house. The story itself could easily have been dismissed by Kiely only for the people who were telling him. “The reason that story affected me was because these weren’t ‘boggers’,” says Kiely, “these were sophisticated people. They had nothing to gain from telling this story. They weren’t being paid and if their names came out they would stand to lose out.” Which begs the question why would they speak at all? Kiely explains, “They felt so grateful [to the clergymen who helped them] that they had to share their appreciation”. He adds, “And even if exorcism is bullshit, if it helps people, if it makes them happy, well then so what?” n
ln search of a better self Paganism in lreland
Who is this upstart Jesus Christ? Paganism has been around a lot longer than 2,000 years and is the indegenous belief system of Ireland. Aida Skirmantaite, who has no cross to bear, finds out more
rom the very beginning of your life you are taught that Christianity is the religion you will be practicing until you die and you have no choice of taking your own religious path because you’re scared into believing that if you’re not Christian, “you will go to Hell”.
Paganism has always been perceived as the anti-Christian religion. Witches, Satanists, and in the modern days, the hipster atheists. Yet as Raymond Sweeney, the national coordinator of Pagan Federation Ireland (PFI), says Paganism predates Christianity and Pagans wanted nothing to do with it when it came about, until someone in power in the Middle Ages spread the propaganda, “if you don’t believe in Christianity, you are against us”, demonising Pagans and deeming them Satanists. But what could be so demonic about a guy who sits in the back of his garden in a lotus position, meditating, calming his breathing and feeling at one with the universe? “It was mind control through fear, enabling them to have power over people,” says Raymond. “That goes against pagan beliefs, which is self-reliance. You don’t seek control over your spirituality, you don’t ask for interference, you don’t ask the priest to talk to a deity for you. You don’t need an interpreter, you ask directly for yourself. If you don’t need the priest, you don’t need a
church. It’s purely a political and financial way of controlling people.” For Raymond, something was off from the very beginning. It was his own questioning nature that brought him to Paganism: “The Christian weddings you’d go to would be interchangeable. It was more about, not the couple when they got married, but the church that the couple were marrying into. When you do a christening, you are not casting original sins. Because who would pick up a baby and say he’s sinful? A baby is born pure. “It’s these kind of questions that would pop into my mind and I really wouldn’t agree. And if you ever raise these questions theologically, at a young age, you were told in severe terms that this is the way it is and if you don’t believe what we believe, you’re evil. And you know you’re not evil, you’re just curious. You have an intellect and a mind that works. You should question everything, including thousands of years of religious dogma.” Many people nowadays have started to question religions and their legitimacy. Raymond argues that
people have lost their religion, but not their spirituality, “Spirituality is distinct from religion. Spirituality is something you feel and something you are inclining towards,” says Raymond. “People have always been spiritual. You’ll stand and you’ll just be awestruck by nature sometimes. You know that there is something greater. You intuitively feel it, and you try to define and maximise that experience – that would be spirituality on its most basic level.”
LOSING OUR RELIGION
“People have lost their religion though. Primarily because the main religion in this country is proving itself to be a sham. In order to be religious, you have to agree with everything that religion says; a group of people who protected criminals, and you could not put your hand on your heart and say you thoroughly support people who do that. “So people have lost their religion. They didn’t lose their spirituality. It finds different ways, it’s a very nebulous way. Your spirituality is something that itches at the back of your mind.” Raymond went through different religions in search of the answers, including Buddhism, which he says is the closest to Paganism. “Buddhism is more accessible, and then to take the next step is to become Pagan, a lot of people do that. A lot of people mix and match, they like the meditative element of [Buddhism]
The Hill of Ward Samhain celebrations Photo courtesy of Pagan Federation Ireland
and they like the nature element [of Paganism] added onto that.” Paganism is an umbrella term for a colossal amount of different beliefs. Most would believe in at least one deity, representing itself as male or female, or a male and female united. Though Polytheism is more common, whereas Pagans would believe in more than one deity. “It would be very rare to have a pagan who would think there is a one and only God,” Raymond explains. “There’s sort of contentedness,” says Raymond speaking of his life as a Pagan, “sort of, being cloaked into a sort of greater consciousness. I’m feeling the heavy flow of nature, particularly feeling and absorbing nature. It calms you down. Especially in modern life, you tend to move at seven billion miles an hour.” According to Pagan Federation Ireland, there are around four to six thousand practicing Pagans in Ireland. Yet Raymond says that there are even more people who are Pagans, but would never get involved in Pagan festivities and would like a more solitary life.
You should question everything, including thousands of years of religious dogma
“Our own belief is that everyone in Ireland is pagan just with a very thin veneer of Christianity on top of it,” says Raymond. There are a number of Pagan traditions that Pagan Federation Ireland have already fought to legalise throughout the years, including handfasting (marriage) and baby-naming. What’s next for PFI? “We’re not looking for any special treatment, we’re just looking for equality with other religions,” says Raymond. “We look forward to the day that being Pagan is equal to being a Christian.” “The main thing we’d be pushing at the moment would be sections of graveyards, of say council run graveyards, to be set aside for people who are not Christian. Why should you have to be buried elsewhere if your family is buried over there? You don’t want to be buried in a consecrated graveyard because you’re not that religion. It would be insulting to you, and the person who consecrated it, and whoever it was consecrated to,” says Raymond Sweeney. n
I WANNA BE A DORED l ie by Char s d r Wo
body and mind
etâ€™s get one thing straight from the start: there is nothing new about narcissism. The concept, and the name, goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks when some good looking young dude saw his reflection in the water and fell in love with it. The difference between now and then being that he didnâ€™t have a smartphone to take a picture of himself or a social media platform to post it on. Otherwise he surely would have. But now we can and we do.
Image from flickr by Wilgengebroed
Selfie was the Oxford Dictionary’s “word of the year” for 2013, and a statistic that I read reveals that college students, make up 23% of Instagram users. This is not to say that the other 77% of the population never indulge in a little harmless vanity. Staying with the media, pick up a newspaper and look at the by-line photos of contributing journalists. Most of these will be at least ten years old, which leads one to suppose that either, a) said writers are far too busy to update their photos more than once a decade or, b) they are vain enough to want their readers to see a prettier youthful avatar instead.
Meanwhile Instagram is the attention seeker’s best friend. At the least sign of anything remotely interesting/fun/exciting happening the smartphone can be whipped out, a photo taken, and it can be immediately uploaded as a notch on the digital bedpost of the user’s Facebook page. And if you want to be really hardcore about it you can be like 23 year old Rachael Adams from Essex. She has spent £10,000 on new clothes over the past six years for the sake of not being seen online in the same clothes twice. ‘It’s social media’s fault,’ she says. ‘You know other people will notice if you wear the same thing twice and you don’t want to be seen as boring.” My own personal opinion is that Rachael ought to stop whingeing
about social media being to blame and cop onto herself. But it emerges that a survey carried out by Oxfam claims that 67 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds feel the same as she does. That, if true, is worrying.
blaming the media
Changing the subject, what about those gloriously candid and happy group holiday shots? We all know them, four or five friends posing in front of the Louvre - or wherever they happen to be - all hugging each other and, arms and legs akimbo, gurning into the camera. When I go to such places I might wander around, take in the sights and then go have a beer or something. I was always content to do so, believing I was enjoying myself; now I’m not so sure. I never figure in any of those “look at us we’re having such an amazingly good time” pictures that everyone else seems to be in. Perhaps I’m a loner, a social inadequate after all.
Life’s not as full-on and glamorous as we make it out to be on Facebook. In this respect social media is no different to any other. But with magazines, television and soap operas in the past we were all passive consumers, albeit consumers who were largely being given what we wanted. Now we can edit our own content; what’s more we can make it all about us.
distancing ourselves Some say that we are becoming more self-centred and introspective, that a collection of 347 online “friends” is a sham and that rather than getting closer to people we are actually distancing ourselves still further. Better a small circle of genuine friends who we can relate to than a plethora of fake ones we cannot. Others maintain that the whole culture of the selfie is itself vain, shallow and worthless. Perhaps it is; and then again maybe it is not. There is nothing new about self promotion; we all do it and always have done. In the past it was called ambition, bettering oneself and aiming for success. We all attempt to project an image of ourselves that will be seen in a favourable light by our peers, our colleagues and the world in general. Social media presents us with the means and the opportunity to do so on a wider scale than ever before. It is hardly surprising that we grasp that opportunity. But as to whether we are actually suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder as a result? That is now, as ever, purely down to the individual. n
a collection of
347 ONLINE ‘friends’ is a SHAM
Image by @dualdflipflop via Flickr
NOWHERE TO HIDE
Words by Patrice Brady
*The women featured in this article have had their names changed to protect their identity however their stories are real. *Maya has been married for ten years and suffers on-going physical and emotional abuse from her husband, which has often taken place in front of their children. During the last incident of abuse, he tried to beat their daughter and Maya prevented this by standing in front of him. Maya and her children left the family home and went to stay in a women’s refuge. Unfortunately due to the lack of emergency accommodation Maya had to leave. She now has to choose between hospitalization and homelessness. *Aishling’s husband was due to be released from prison. She wished to move as she feared for her own safety and the safety of her children. She moved to an area where no-one knew her and the Community Welfare Officer agreed to pay her rent allowance. However, when Aishling went to the local authority to transfer her name to their housing list she was refused as she has no connection with the area. Now she and her children are at risk. *Mary experienced abuse to such an extreme that she feared for her life and was unable to remain living with her spouse. Every day at three she rings the homeless agency to see if there is any accommodation, but has yet to hear a positive response. She has been sleeping in her car since February. These are just a few of the women that endure domestic violence every day in Ireland who feel trapped in their abusive relationship because of the housing crisis. In some areas of the country two- thirds of domestic violence victims have no option but to return to their abusive partners due to the shortage in emergency refuges. According to recommendations from the Council of Europe on emergency housing for victims of domestic violence, there should be one refuge space per head of ten thousand populations. Ireland is currently operating at 38% below the recommended level and the standard of refuge accommodation here is behind many other countries. The Director of Women’s Aid, Margaret Martin, spoke to Grit about the many factors that contribute to homelessness for domestic violence victims
“The whole issue is with housing. There are 90,000 people currently on the waiting list for housing and there is a massive volume of people experiencing homelessness. These people who are subject to violence from their spouse are in a situation where people are telling them to leave, without realizing that leaving can sometimes be the most dangerous time for them” explained Margaret Martin. Women’s Aid is a leading national
Women are being choked, strangled, and kicked and punched and still can’t get into a refuge
organisation that has been working to stop domestic violence against women and children in Ireland since 1974. The organisation aims to create a society that does not accept violence against women. However, the calls and demand for Women’s Aid’s services has increased and it is more difficult to stretch the organisation’s limited funds. “Women who experience domestic violence within their own homes are in a ridiculous situation. For many, they do not want to involve the Gardaí and the women who do involve the Gardaí experience difficulties attaining a barring order from their abusive partner.” A barring order requires a violent person to leave the family home. Less than 10% of barring orders requested are issued and
the majority of women who look for them will get a protection order while they wait. Margaret explained that with a protection order; ‘‘He can’t assault her, threaten her or put her in fear. But if someone has previously assaulted you, a protection order won’t stop you being frightened” said Margaret. The housing crisis associated with domestic violence is an issue that has been pushed behind the curtains for years, despite the recommendations from the Council of Europe. Margaret told of their exhaustion with cuts to refuges “The European norm is based on the population level in each country, Ireland has a third of the space. The other problem is that if the Gardaí, the courts responses and housing weren’t under such workloads not as many people would need to get emergency accommodation.” The main concern for Women’s Aid and other organisations that deal with domestic violence cases is the threat that the lack of housing could push people back into abusive relationships. “A lot of women just feel trapped because if they do get into a refuge, there is nowhere to go after and if they don’t get into a refuge they can end up sleeping in cars. It’s an unfair system and the people who are most at risk are the ones suffering. Women are being choked, strangled, kicked and punched and still can’t get into a refuge. It’s a tragic situation and it pushes women back into a relationship where they are being abused.” Another difficulty with refuges is the lack of follow on options, which means a lot of women are getting trapped and spending longer in such places, as it is impossible to find accommodation. The latest statistics published in 2014 show that 3,500 people were refused refuge accommodation due to lack of space. “The tragedy is that there will be women who are victims of domestic violence sleeping in cars tonight and tomorrow night. No one should be turned out in the cold because they have to flee for their safety,” said Margaret summing up the reality of the situation.
he desire to be thin is everywhere. Flashback to 50 years ago when women were aspiring to have curves like Marilyn Monroe, now it’s rib cages like Kate Moss. However, this new era of #thinspiration is being used by pro-anorexia sites to promote anorexia as a lifestyle choice, not a serious mental illness. *Claire is a 23 year old student who blogs her pro-ana journey on one of the many forums available on the internet. She believes her decision to be pro-ana is a lifestyle not a
disease. “If you talk to teenage girls, the majority of them want to be skinner. I don’t think looking healthy isn’t attractive but healthy doesn’t make me feel better. Skinny makes everything perfect and all I want is perfection,” explained Claire. “I feel there is a difference between being pro-ana and being anorexic, anorexics want sympathy for their ‘disease’, I’m pro-ana and I want respect and admiration for my lifestyle choice. People don’t understand but I’m proud of my accomplishments. I counted my ribs today and nothing felt better.” However, the reality is that anorexia is not a lifestyle choice
all about that waist
Words by Patrice Brady
but a mental illness that thousands of people struggle with every day and the “pro-ana lifestyle” isn’t an attainable one. Bodywhy is an Irish organisation that helps people deal with eating disorders. Chief executive officer, Jacinta Hastings spoke to GRIT about the growth in users on pro-ana websites. “People suffering
attention.” The pro-ana website and blogs are a huge concern for the organisation at the moment as they appear to be growing through the use of social media. A lot of these websites were shut down in 2000; they have reappeared now requiring a log in. Despite organisations like Bodywhy calling for greater restrictions on pro anorexics and their sites, is this depriving pro-ana a chance to voice their opinion? “Our response to these websites is to offer an alternatives. We set up an online community called youth connect and Bodywhy connect which are available online. I honestly don’t know if these hashtags #thinspiration or #proana are causing anorexia but I do think it creates links for vulnerable people who are looking for a community that accelerates their behaviour,” explained Jacinta. *Mary became aware of her eating disorder when she was fifteen but didn’t turn to online forums until she was sixteen, joining them initially out of curiosity. “You never really realise that you have developed an eating disorder straight away, more a gradual decline of your want of food. I was sixteen when I read an article on a pro-ana site and I was really disgusted. I thought what I was doing was better, it’s always warped in your own head,” she explained. “First it was out of curiosity, I looked at the site for two minutes and freaked out and turned the computer off thinking that I’m never going to look at those sites again. But of course more curiosity and a want for help, for tips, for support and
nothing tastes as good as skinny feels
from anorexia see these pro-ana websites as a support group, but it’s not. The average age of people starting to develop anorexia is fifteen, an age where peer influence is a dominant force and this is similar to pro-ana websites. They use pro-ana as an identity and refer to it as a lifestyle choice instead of an illness,” said Jacinta Hastings. “Our earlier message from Bodywhy was to not really talk about the sites because we felt that by talking about them we were advertising them and promoting curiosity to see what they’re all about. However, this was moot as the sites are already out there gaining people’s
feeling very comfortable that I wasn’t the only person out there going through something like this helped. People who have eating disorders always seem so confident but these are the most shattered people on the inside. Nobody is confident or real because everything is fake. On these sites you can be whoever you want to be and say all those weird thoughts that go through your head and people accept them and they accept you.” This feeling of being accepted for who you are, problems and all, is a driving force behind these websites that spirals into dangerous ideas. “I began to idolise these women, who to me looked so beautiful, the shape of their bones were beautiful, their collarbones.” The pro-ana sites have thousands of these images. “A lot of us would post things up; a picture of ourselves in our underwear or naked, beside that we would have a picture of one of our anorexic heroes and be like ‘in four months this is what I’m going to look like.’ It’s actually funny because nowadays a lot of girls post pictures to make their ass look big but on the pro ana sites you post in a certain way to make your rib cage stick out,” said Mary. Mary eventually went off the websites as she was afraid of the spiral that anorexia was leading to. “There was competition on these sites, snide comments under pictures asking are you trying hard enough. I think things like #Thinspiration will bring about a new move of anorexia, it was like the Kate Moss saying ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ came out and lots of girls developed eating disorders as a result. Things like that will create these problems.” n
Celebrity Culture in the media: How is it affecting Irelandâ€™s mental health? Words by Niamh Foran
Anxiety Social Media
e live in a world where celebrities share more and more of their everyday lives with the outside world at just the touch of a button, but this also gives the outside world the same opportunity to ridicule and judge the lives of the famous. In a time where we can laugh at Amanda Bynes, yet mourn Robin Williams, just what impact does social media have on the way in which we see celebrities’ mental health? One in four Irish people will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime and 41% of people with a mental illness suffered for at least a year without seeking help. The Challenging Times Two study showed almost one in five young Irish adults aged 19-24 years were experiencing an anxiety disorder at any given time and that over one in two young people aged 19-24 years will have experienced some form of mental disorder over the course of their lives with a total of 56% meeting lifetime criteria for any mental disorder. With these kinds of statistics coming from the younger generations, who have been raised with technology and social media, it is impossible to ignore the growing issue and the root cause of it. Sorcha Lowry, Acting Campaign Manager of See Change believes that Ireland’s media and celebrity culture has a positive attitude towards mental health and the stigma that surrounds it. “As an organisation that seeks to promote the idea of being open and talking about your mental health,” says Sorcha, “our main issue is making sure that reports of mental health and suicide in the media are both accurate and sensitive. “Features are normally written quite well, but if there is a certain issue or topic
being discussed it tends to become a little bit dangerous or sensationalist. Celebrity stories make it easier for it to slip into that grey area.” One of the most high profile cases of celebrities publicly breaking down has been that of American actress Amanda Bynes and her use of social media websites such as Twitter to publicise her feelings to her 3.7 million followers. With statements such as “If magazines would please stop acting like I need mental help I would really appreciate it” and “I’m not insane”, it soon became the latest trend to mock Bynes and her highly publicised struggles.
I can only imagine how tough it is when the whole world is waiting for you to fall down
However, in August when world-renowned actor Robin Williams took his own life after a long struggle with depression, the news was met with nothing but respect and condolences. There is no denying that both negative and positives influences from American and British celebrities creep into the Irish media on a day to day basis, but what is it that Irish people relate to most when looking for support when dealing with their own issues? “In Ireland we have had a lot of positive stories from celebrities about their own struggles with depression,” explains Sorcha. “Taking Bressie for example, he stood up and
said this is my experience and this is how I dealt with it. So we see that these stories can be positive if they are done well. “I have found in all my research that the stories that impact the most are those of real people. Irish people would much rather hear of a typical housewife who suffers with depression than a big celebrity. These types of stories hit people in a way that adverts and billboards just don’t. We all have mental health and we all need to look after it.” Irish student and the brains behind the makeup and beauty blog ilovebarrystea, Aisling Hickey, has recently spoken out publicly on her blog about her own struggles with depression and mental health issues. “It was after watching Niall Breslin’s powerful speech when I finally felt I had the courage to share my own story,” she wrote. “Niall has been a huge influence to myself and thousands of others. Recently he has just launched a new website focusing on mental health, promoted through social media across the globe. That’s the great positive of social media. “Having said that, there is always a bad side. Amanda Bynes for example, is a young woman clearly struggling with her mental health, yet all I ever see or read is people ridiculing her. It’s extremely sad to see. I can only imagine how tough it is when the whole world is waiting for you to fall down, and not be there to help you back up. “Over the last few years I have researched and read hundreds of posts on the topic of depression, all through social media of some kind. Every single one of those stories has helped me in some way so this was the main reason for sharing my own – in the hope I could be of any help to others. Social media can be amazing for reaching thousands of people, but of course at times not so great. Thankfully I haven’t personally experienced any negativity through social media. “I think the media could improve in how it portrays depression and suicide. It’s something that needs to be handled with extreme care and sensitivity, unfortunately very often it isn’t.” For more information or to speak to an organisation that deals with mental illnesses please contact ‘PleaseTalk.org’ email@example.com
Along came Poly Words by Aine Hennessy
Imagine a world where you could only have one friend at a time, and if you wanted to make friends with anyone else then you had to break off that , first friendship. Well, that s what monogamy feels like to me
eriving from the Greek and Latin for many loves, polyamory can be defined as the involvement of a person in a romantic relationship with two or more others simultaneously. With over 300 members in 2015, Polyamory Ireland is the country’s first and only support group for “poly” people and now organises monthly meetings to lend members advice and support. Mary (35) is just such a member. For Mary, polyamory is about breaking down the barriers that have been built up by society. The Cork native feels that it enables her to connect with people without restrictions. She is currently avoiding relationships however, because it keeps her life “simpler”. “It’s kind of weird to be a single polyamorous person, but I still agree with and believe all of the ideas of polyamory. I naturally led a polyamorous lifestyle, even before I knew what it was. I was really only introduced to the term when I came across the meet -up group. Society has come up with all these ideas of how we should relate to each other and the limits that should be placed on those relationships, but for me the monogamous ideals, they’re the ones that are unnatural,” she says. Mary’s brother and only sibling is also polyamorous, something which their mother found difficult to comprehend at first.
“She’s wondering what the hell happened to the two of us. The first thing she said was ‘Well, I suppose I won’t be having any grandchildren now.’ Of course many poly people have children, but she’d never even heard about it, so these were the ideas she had in her head. She was very accepting at the same time though.” Another practitioner is Ali (29), who was living abroad as a young student when she first read about polyamory online. She was relieved to discover that a polyamorous community also existed in Ireland: “I was like ‘Yes! There’s a word for it, a term, and other people who do it.’ A lot of polyamorous people keep it private, but it does exist and it was great to be able to find an Irish community.” Ali found it difficult to tell her loved ones about her polyamorous lifestyle, comparing it to “coming out” in other sexual orientations. “My parents were very unsupportive when I told them. It can be tough to bring something like that to a parent, sibling or friend. They can be very judgemental and hostile to the idea. It’s very personal and can be wounding when people don’t accept you for who you are,” she says. “A lot of people worry about their ability to be faithful to one person. It’s nice to be able to be faithful to someone in a way that’s not necessarily monogamous. My boyfriend has another girlfriend. She and I are friends, but we’re not in a relationship with each other. It can be frustrating sometimes, because I don’t want to overstep my boundaries and be too friendly with her. I don’t want to feel like I’m invading their relationship. But at the same time we do need to keep good open communication channels, to make sure everybody is on the same page and comfortable. “I think everyone has moments
of jealousy, and that’s normal. A lot of the time jealousy is a mask for something else. When I get these feelings I try and analyse why I’m feeling like this. It happens to everyone, we get angry and we get sad. It’s just about being able to manage it.” Polyamory Ireland organiser Randy Ralston (50) has been a practitioner for many years. Originally from California, Randy came to realise that there were no resources for like-minded people when he moved to Ireland. He believes that humans are polyamorous by nature, and that monogamy is only a learned structure of society. “I knew there had to be other polyamorous people here, but it was only when I started to settle in and look around that I realised there were no resources for them. That’s when I decided to set up the group.”
According to Randy the relationship skills needed in single relationships are also needed in multiple relationships, if not more so. Which seems hardly surprising. The group provides a space for members to talk openly about their relationships and about fundamental things like honesty and communication, time management and money. “I don’t mean to sound flippant or cliché, but every relationship is unique. How these relationships work really depends on who you are, who the other people in the relationship are, and what your individual needs are at that given time. It’s up to you to negotiate that and so flexibility is really the key. “It’s demanding, but the rewards are tremendous. You experience lots of love, joy and variety plus exposure to new ideas and concepts. The contrast of having more than one love in your life really enhances the other. You appreciate the unique qualities of each person much more.”
A magazine created by DIT students. 2015.