Archives

When Life Changes Your Plans

1

How do you recover when your life and way of living is thrown off course?

In this Women’s Live’s, Women’s Voice’ feature Sarah shares her story and unique journey to create a new life for herself and family in Donegal after a major life change.

 


 

Sarah is a yoga teacher and essential oil educator in Donegal. She supports women who are exhausted, stressed & overwhelmed. Through her approaches she supports women how to learn to revitalize their energy and reduce stress so they not only feel amazing but feel recharged and refreshed, ready to embrace life.

 

 

3My story begins in November 2015. Living in New York with my husband and 2 children. My husband was not legal and we tried to get him a Greencard or visa so he could legalise his status. We both had great jobs, I had just became a partner in a Bar and Restaurant and Hughie – a foreman for a construction company that he had worked for since first coming to New York in 2001. We had just moved into our home that we purchased in 2014. Our hard work was finally starting to pay off. Success was here and now our American Dream was commencing! We had everything we wanted, our beautiful children, our home and the Careers we strived for.

 


 

ICEOne morning in November as Hughie was going to work, he left our house like always at 6am to be met by Immigration Law Enforcement – ICE. Immediately he was arrested, taken into Manhattan for booking and transferred to Jersey to a detention Centre. He was getting deported! Our life was ruined! We were completely devastated and fought to the very last minute of getting on the plane to stop this deportation. Having one week to pack up our life, our home and leave the country we had both known & loved for 14 years, The Country our kids were born in, We arrived back in Ireland Thanksgiving morning (ironically)

 


 

The first year was a complete blur, we were still living in a little bit of hope that this nightmare would be over and we would be back in NY, we searched for someone that could help us, hopes were lifted and then dropped so quickly that it was a roller coaster ride of emotions each day. It was the closest to rock bottom that I had ever been emotionally. I was running on empty. I couldn’t sleep and when I did manage to sleep I would wake up in the middle of the night with that heavy heart realising that the nightmare was real.

A year went by and we were still on the hunt to get someone to help, we tried countless lawyers and anybody we encountered for help. Living in Ireland was just not in our life ́s plan. We were shattered. For the next two years I would go back & forth to NY, leaving my kids for weeks at a time to work in the restaurant and help out as much as I could, especially during the busy periods of Christmas, Easter etc so needless to say missing out on school plays, major events in my kids’ lives. We had the house so I had to organise repairs etc. Dealing with tenants etc… It was hard but overtime it became the new norm for all of us. Then my time in Ireland consisted of being a stay at home mom. Looking back I had to live two lives!

 


 

Over time…. This was starting to crumble, I couldn’t maintain this lifestyle. We had to let go…. it was eating us alive and we had two wonderful kids that were just happy being with mom and dad.

So I decided to become a yoga teacher, I always loved the practice of yoga and was a member of a fantastic yoga studio while living in NY. So I picked a teacher training in London and commuted back and forth so I wasn’t away from my kids too much. Once I completed my course, it took me 6 months to pluck up the courage to teach my first class… after that I never looked back. I began teaching classes in my local area going from one village to the next. Starting to get a following I started to see how I was helping people believe in themselves. Seeing these women feel stronger mentally and physically was bringing  joy to my heart.

 


 

So now here I am currently with a great yoga business in Donegal, I added essential oils into my business and the combination of both are amazing!  I love my life! I love being a stay at home mom while also having my yoga business which I love. I still go to NY during the summer with my kids so they don’t lose sight of where they came from and give them the best life I can provide to them by having the best of both worlds.

I don’t work in the Restaurant business anymore and that was a blessing in disguise,  so now I enjoy all the holidays with my kids and I work around the school calendar. I have created the life and business I have always wanted!

 


 

2So this quote will close my talk perfectly….. “what if the worst thing that happened you ended up being the best thing that ever happened to you”. So if you take anything from this story…. Take this advice… ACCEPTANCE is what got me through this ordeal. When I accepted what had happened and nothing was going to bring back the life we longed for, things started to happen. The pining thoughts for my old life started to melt away, I began to focus on how to make my current situation and life into a life that I have always dreamed of. I realised how Strong I actually was as a woman and the powerful woman in me started to show up everyday.

So go with the flow even in times of doubt or when you think life is not going your way!! Everything is happening around us….. For us!

 


NCCWN Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series.

Historical Donegal Women

the power of positive thinking (2)

In this Women’s Lives Women’s Voices feature Historian Dr Angela Byrne from Donegal highlights the historical struggles faced by women here in Ireland. And she pays tribute to Rose Brogan, Ethna Carbery, Máire de Paor, Maureen Wall, née MacGeehin, Kathleen ‘Kay’ McNulty and Margaret ‘Pearl’ Dunlevy, inspiring historical women with Donegal connections. 

 


By Angela Byrne

This is a good time to reflect on women in Irish society in the past and in the present. The ‘Decade of Centenaries’ and its commemorations gave the people of Ireland an opportunity to re-examine the keystone moments in our national story. Remarkable figures emerged from the shadows as we heard new stories about the women and children of the 1913 Lockout and the Easter Rising. The volunteer-run Her story Project established a series of local and national events to provide a platform for telling Irish women’s stories. One of the great successes of the recent commemorations was the naming of Dublin’s newest bridge after the republican and labour activist, Rosie Hackett. This is the first of our capital’s twenty-one bridges to bear a woman’s name.


 

0194400c0c609b470d95a4db3335e62dIn 2018, we celebrated the centenary of what Catriona Crowe has called “the single greatest human rights achievement of the entire decade of centenaries” – the extension of voting rights to women on 6 February 1918. The Representation of the People Act enfranchised some 8.4 million women across Britain and Ireland – but only property-holders aged 30 and above. In 1922, the constitution of the Irish Free State extended the franchise to all Irish women and men aged 21 and over, but for a period of four years, younger and poorer women remained voiceless.

Women’s suffrage was won after decades of effort by campaigners like Anna and Thomas Haslam of the Women’s Suffrage Association, and the more “militant” Irish Women’s Franchise League (IWFL) established by Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington and Margaret Cousins. The IWFL brought much more public attention to the women’s movement because they refused to be confined by social expectations of women’s behaviour. Tactics ranged from petitioning to window smashing. In 1909, English suffragettes in became the first to use hunger striking as a form of protest, leading to the infamous ‘Cat and Mouse Act’ of 1913, which allowed the temporary release and recapture of hunger strikers in response to public objections to force-feeding. In 1912, the Irish Women’s Franchise League established its own weekly newspaper, The Irish Citizen, which ran until 1920. In its pages, suffragists of all political shades debated their differing interpretations of feminism.

sc004_suffrage_geography

There was a rapid growth of women’s suffrage groups throughout Ireland. In Sligo Eva and Constance Gore Booth set up a branch of the IWSGLA. By 1914 there were 26 suffrage societies with almost 3,000 members. Although committed to the same aim, these societies often represented distinct social and political groups e.g. the Conservative and Unionist Women’s Franchise Association, Irish Catholic Women’s Suffrage Society, Unionist Women’s Franchise Association. The activities of these societies were uncoordinated. In 1911 Louie Bennett (1870 -1956) and Helen Chenevix (1880-1963) helped establish the Irish Women’s Suffrage Federation (IWSF) to link the suffrage groups together. The IWSF was non-militant and non-sectarian.


On 21 November 1918, the UK parliament voted in the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act. The act simply stated: “A woman shall not be disqualified by sex or marriage for being elected to or sitting or voting as a Member of the Commons House of Parliament.” Women aged over 21 now had the right to stand for general election. Just weeks later, on 14 December 1918, Constance Markievicz became the first woman to win a seat at Westminster. She abstained in favour of sitting in the First Dáil.

 

In her celebrated 1995 book The Prospect Before Her, the historian Olwen Hufton wrote that women’s absence from history pointed to “either a grave sin of omission or to a flagrant suppression of the evidence, and hence to a distortion of the record by historians of former times. Whether the omission was unconscious or deliberate, the result was the same: women, with a few notable exceptions, had been denied a history.” Let’s celebrate our suffrage centenary by continuing to challenge that denial, to give silenced women a voice.

 


Discover some of Donegal’s Historical Women

 

Please take the time to read further features written by Angela and discover more about Donegal’s inspiring historical women by clicking on the pictures below.


“I hope that these features will raise awareness of the richness of the lives of Donegal women in the past, shine a light on their achievements, and show how they overcame barriers to education and other obstacles. Reflecting on past lives can help us to contextualise current issues and to understand changes and continuities. With that in mind, this series will focus on past women’s struggles for equality, access to education and work, and social justice.”

Dr Angela Byrne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


About Dr Angela Byrne

Dr. Angela ByrneAngela Byrne is a historian specialising in migration and women’s history. She is Research Associate at Ulster University and, in 2018-19, was the inaugural DFAT Historian-in-Residence at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. She is author of Geographies of the Romantic North (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), A Scientific, Antiquarian and Picturesque Tour: John (Fiott) Lee in Ireland, England and Wales, 1806–1807 (Routledge for Hakluyt Society, 2018), and many articles and book chapters on the histories of travel and exploration, the Irish abroad, and women in the sciences.

She has previously held lecturing and research positions in University of Toronto, University of Greenwich, Maynooth University, and the Royal Irish Academy, as well as visiting fellowships at Cambridge University, the All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature (Moscow), and the Huntington Library (Los Angeles). Her research is concerned with cross-cultural encounters and the experiences of women and migrants in the past.

 


NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network have had the privilege of Angela giving insight into the lives of historical  Donegal women over the past few years at past events, including most recently our 2019 Balance for Better International Women’s Day Event in March, where Angela gave a talk on the political life of Letterkenny local Kate McCarry, Donegal’s first ever elected female county councillor.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1b

NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network have had the privilege of Angela giving insight into the lives of historical  Donegal women over the past few, including most recently our 2019 Balance for Better International Women’s Day Event in March, where Angela gave a talk on the political life of Letterkenny local Kate McCarry Donegal’s first ever elected female county councillor.


NCCWN Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series, so please get in touch if you would like to write a feature.

Let’s Talk About Fertility

Roses and Rainbows

New Donegal group raising awareness about the importance of providing local support for people facing fertility challenges.

This month a new Facebook group was created entitled “Roses and Rainbows” it started with a post about one Donegal couples experience of going through IVF and their recent loss through miscarriage. As part of this month’s Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices, the founder of the group shares her voice and lived experience around the issue of fertility.

 


Myself and my partner have been trying to conceive for the past three and a half years, we went through a number of tests which resulted in us being referred for In vitro fertilisation (IVF) in the form of ICSI, which we have been doing for the past few years.

 

10

This month on the 6th August 2019, after our second frozen embryo transfer, we suffered a miscarriage. Our heartbreak and loss moved us to tell our story and set up the group “Rose’s and Rainbows” both as a way of helping us heal and deal with what we have been through but to also help others who may be going through similar fertility challenges and experiences.

 

The issue of infertility is still a very sensitive subject and I believe we are very under educated as a society about how to deal with fertility issues and miscarriage, it is still very much the elephant in the room. We need to change this.

1 IN 6


The Rose’s and Rainbows name came about as we both have a love of Rose’s and I guess we are looking for the rainbow in our storm, as are many. The page itself is a personal blog of what we have been through so far and continue to deal with, this includes our highs and lows, the financial cost of IVF, the emotional side of infertility and the heart break of a miscarriage.

 

9

 

Followers are free to message in privately with their stories if they feel they would like to share them with us, and if they would like we can publish them in the hope of helping others. (this of course would be done privately with no names attached to the stories).

Since setting up we have received offers by some amazing professions who will be writing blogs on fitness and health tailored towards fertility and during and after IVF and miscarriage.

Our experience over these past few years has highlighted that there is a lack of a local support network here in Letterkenny and Donegal on infertility, IVF journeys and miscarriage.

As Roses and Rainbows we are delighted to say we have now set up a monthly met-up, the first one on Sunday 25th August with a meditation session also taking place on Monday 7th October, 7-8.30pm. We believe in respecting the privacy of individuals who are going through this sensitive matter and recognise that some people would like to keep their private life’s private, as such all locations for these meetings will be given by private message)

Our motto is “you are not alone even if you decide to go through any of these journeys without telling your family or friends, because there is a local network of support in place to listen and help”.

textgram_1566488658

 


Supports Going Forward

We would love to see annual information events held here in the North West from the likes of the miscarriage association of Ireland etc. While it would also be amazing if a fertility clinic and counselling service that were linked were based here in the North West.

It is hugely important that the promised funding from government is soon put into places, because at the moment all couples receive is tax back. The financial struggles going through treatment is very stressful added on top of everything else.

 


A Human Rights Issue

The right to a family life is a Human Right, yet in Ireland the right to this basic human right comes at a high price if you are a person experiencing fertility issues.

The cost of fertility treatment is high, IVF treats cost from around €4,600 upwards and this does not include other related treatments and medical supports  involved in the process. People do not receive funding supports, their only opinions is to claim tax back. Which is the last thing the State should except a person/s going through this experience in the hope of building their family to have to do. In 2018 the government announced that €1m would go to IVF treatment for couples unable to conceive, yet a year on this funding has not been released.[1]

 


National Support Advise

For more information on IVF Treatments and the process please visit here. National support advise services can also be found with the following organisations

We thank the founder of the Roses and Rainbow group for sharing with us her story and ongoing journey. You can find and LIKE the group on Facebook here.

 

[1] Reported in the Irish Examiner, https://amp.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/concern-as-ivf-funding-still-not-in-place-922418.html


NCCWN Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series.

Getting to Zero Waste

Cloth Sanitary Protection (CSP) is a return to what our grandmother's and great grandmother's used. These are colourful and comfortable and above all reliable. (1)

This feature is part of the NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network, ‘Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series. Written by Mary Lane to highlight the need for us all to play a role in reducing our waste. This is the second in a two part feature by Mary who reflects on her experience of becoming aware of the concept of Zero Waste and how she has managed to bring a zero waste lifestyle into her family home.


I first became aware of the concept of Zero Waste in 2016, when I was expecting my first child and was researching breastfeeding and cloth nappies online. I’ve always been pretty frugal and I didn’t want to waste money week after week on disposable nappies or formula and contraptions associated with infant feeding which had always seemed so gimmicky to me.

I had decided that I’d breastfeed to cut down on the costs, but naturally as I researched further, I became so aware of the health risks associated with not breastfeeding for both me and my child, as well as the environmental impact of opting out of breastfeeding. To me, these simple decisions to use natural or reusable resources for my baby would not only save us a fortune, be kinder to our baby, but they would also have a substantial environmental benefit.

My digging online lead me to more and more stories about people living a Zero Waste lifestyle. Bloggers and Instagram accounts proudly showing their home made almond milk and their entire years rubbish fitting into a mason jar. I was in awe of their dedication, but disheartened that is never be able to obtain that level of environmental perfection. It seemed pointless to even try, but try I did! Just a few small changes were actually easy to implement.


Here’s a few examples of my initial changes

Cloth Sanitary Protection (CSP) is a return to what our grandmother's and great grandmother's used. These are colourful and comfortable and above all reliable. (2)

I stopped using face wipes and swapped back to good old face cloths, water and cleansing soap.

We used cloth nappies 80% of the time for our son until he was a year old.

I stopped buying unnecessary cosmetics. I had been so guilty of impulse buying the latest products and only using them a few times before they became resigned to a box or a cabinet somewhere. Now not only do I not have the product and plastic waste, I also didn’t waste money, and I don’t have box loads of stuff I’ll never use clogging up my bathroom or bedroom. 

I also started skipping unnecessary paper bags where possible. For example in a pharmacy where they pop a pack of paracetamol into a paper bag, or a single book in a bookshop, or when buying something small like a pack of socks when I know I’m going straight to the car.


  • I bought shampoo and conditioner in 4 litre bottles from the hairdresser suppliers shop for about €33 in total. I used pretty soap dispenser bottles in the shower and refilled from the big bottles as they ran out. 3 years later, I’ve just finished my last top up from these bottles and I’ve estimated that I’ve saved over €200 in hair products, and over 70 plastic bottles!

  • We used cloth baby wipes and water, which I made myself from two unused baby blankets.

  • I swapped the use of kitchen paper towels to kitchen cloths which are used for spills, sticky hands and faces, wiping counters, you name it. While we still have kitchen paper for some things, In the past 3 years, we have used approximately only around 15 rolls of paper towels, rather than a full roll almost every week.

  • I opted for a minimal wardrobe. When I was pregnant, I realised I was surviving perfectly well with a dozen maternity tops and three pairs of trousers. I loved not having to think too much about combining outfits and what was or wasn’t fashionable. I began to realise that I didn’t really care about what other people wore, so I realised probably nobody really cared about what I was wearing either. That realisation was very liberating. I now keep a very limited number of clothes – using only three drawers in a small chest of drawers, and a handful of hangers in the wardrobe. I have four pairs of shoes! My husband also keeps a small amount of clothes, and we don’t go overboard with our son’s clothes either.

  • We swapped to a 2 in 1 washing powder to cut out all the extra plastic bottles of fabric conditioner, or the use of capsules in plastic boxes.

  • I made a much better effort at bringing reusable bags to the supermarket or finding a cardboard box if I’d forgotten to bring the bags.

  • I stopped taking the special offers leaflets or catalogues home from the shops, and rejecting handouts and flyers.

  • My husband started using shaving soap with a brush instead of a foam from an aerosol can.

I felt that these changes have actually made a difference to our home and our lives.


NCCWN Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series.