Novemember 2012, nearly 6 years ago, was the first time I came to stay in Strokestown, Co. Roscommon. I had passed through it before on the bus out to stay with friends in Balllina. I know I am that strange Dublin person who actually travels outside of the Pale.
My friend Lora O’Brien had asked me to come and be a speaker at a two day Goddess conference in the Visitor centre in Tlusk. where she was the manager. I had agreed to do this before the death of Savita had broken and that Saturday I was in Strokestown and not attending one of the vigils and Marches which sprung up all over the country. I knew how many there were as I was at the time the sole admin for the Irish Choice Networks website and I kept updating the list there and on the ICN facebook page.
I kept my speaking commitment and on the way down in the car I got talking with friends about abortion and about what had happened to Savita, about the law here and about the restrictions the 8th Amendment put in place.
When we arrive into Lora’s the conversation continued after she had welcomed us and made us tea. She said that she didn’t think things were going to change as abortion wasn’t really such a common thing, as sure none of her friends had had an abortion.
I looked at her and smiled and said “Hi I am one of your friends and I have had an abortion”. That was the first of many, many conversations I was to have with friends over the coming months. While the vast majority of my friends knew I was very prochoice, I still hadn’t disclosed that I myself had travelled.
From November through to the end of January 2013 I told more of my friends, I had those conversations. I am blessed they were so supportive, and so at the meeting at which the name of the Abortion Rights Campaign was announced, I publically stated for the first time in person to a room of mostly strangers that “I had an abortion”.
This all started in Strokestown, which I came back to visit frequently, even spending summer holidays here with my children and celebrating Winter solstice and Summer solstice with friends and family.
And here I am again in Strokestown, today as Roscommon For Yes launches as we finally have a referendum to Repeal the 8th Amendment. When I said I would travel to as many counties as possible I contacted a range of groups and let the schedule evolve as it would. And so the first place I find myself invited to is Strokestown.
Its funny but for me personally not surprising as this place is for me connected with the Goddess I have the deepest connection with that of the Great Queen also know as An Mór-Ríoghain or The Morrigan.
The Warrior Queen, the Battle Crow, the Goddess of Sovereignty. And that is what we have been fighting for the rights of sovereignty over our own bodies. The last few years haven’t been easy, hell the last few months have not been easy, but I know She has had my back. So I am happy to make this pilgrimage here.
I have always smiled when some have called me the Witch involved with the abortion rights campaign, yes I am a pagan, I have never hidden it. I spoke about it on the @Ireland account at the start of the week when I was a curator, Lora did too.
There are as many pagans in Ireland as there are Jewish people according to the last census, we are people just like everyone else, who’s spiritual life, helps us through the hard time and helps us celebrate the good times.
So I am delighted and honoured to be here in Strokestown today.
Thank you to those who donated to my Fundme who made this trip and blog post possible.