The murder of a young woman in county Offally last week has shocked the nation.
She was going for a run in broad daylight in a public place.
It has stirred up emotions and understandably has left many women feeling fearful, angry and let down by society in Ireland.
This is not brand new and it feels like the last straw so to speak.
The statistics for the abuse, rape, violence and murder of women in Ireland is horrifying and i know i am not alone in feeling enough is enough.
So how did we get here and how do we move forward if that is even possible?
Lets go back over 5,000 years ago when
Ireland was a Pagan country.
Godesses and Gods were worshipped alike, usually based on their associations with nature, the sun in particular and the unending cycle of life.
The triple spirals on the entrance stone at Newgrange county Meath are the earliest Irish symbols dating 5,200
Birth, death, eternity/Female, male, child.
The triple spiral at Newgrange (Trieskle)
Most of the revered dieties in Pagan Ireland were in fact female..
The Morrigan, Danu, Brigid, Badb, Banba, Boann, Áine, Queen Medb to name a few..
The bringers of life, the creators, warriors, the wise ones.
Women were not only equal members of society but also leaders.
So how did we go from there to as our own Taoiseach quotes
"A deeply misogynistic culture in Ireland"?
Did it begin with the loss of paganism and the introduction of Christianity in the 5th century?
Nine of swords by Seanfitzgeraldart
As a child growing up Catholic in Ireland you learn to say your prayers and conditioned to believe and not question what you are taught
"Father, son, Holy ghost".
The triple spiral of The mother, father, child has been replaced with a cross and just the father/son!
As an adult woman and a mother you wonder why is God depicted as a man, why is Jesus the saviour of the world a man, why are priests only men, where is the female representation?
'Badb' Artwork by Sean Fitzgerald
Religion has a lot to answer for in general but it certainly has done no favours for the divine feminine.
'An institution that reflects and perpetuates inequality, functioning as a patriarchal ideology that legitimates female subordination'
And the Catholic religion was the ruler of Ireland for so many years with more influence than any government.
And then what of our government?
Who decided once married a woman should leave the workforce?
who decided that a woman must take her spouses surname?
Who made it law that entitlement is due to male birthright?
Why do men get to say what we do with our own bodies?
Why is equal pay for the same job even a question?
And why is female representation still far behind our Western European neighbours?
The entrance stone at Newgrange
The key pillars of Irish public life
Government, Education, Church have all acted as bastions of male privilege for centuries and thus attitudes of inherent male superiority are deeply ingrained still in Irish society.
I have experienced the fall out of this as a woman in Ireland as most women have..
the casual sexists remarks, jokes, suggestions and the acceptance of it.
Holding back on my friendly nature as it was taken to be of a presumed sexual nature so many times.
The asking to speak to 'The man of the house' and the labelling of bitch or angry feminist as soon as you give an opinion that rocks the boat.
The fear i felt as a student walking anywhere alone, the fear of walking past a group of men, the locking my gates the locking my car, looking over your shoulder.. the list goes on..
An Cailleach (The Hag) by Sean Fitzgerald
And yet i am one of the lucky ones.
Surrounded by men in my life that were and are, strong yet soft, gentle and kind, secure and repectful.
But there are so many women who have never known anything but the opposite and so many now living in constant fear and violent relationships.
Its the same old line 'Its not all men' so similar to the responses to 'black lives matter' of 'white lives matter too'
and we are tired of explaining.
We aren't men bashing, we don't hate you and your gender personally, what we hate is the unequal society we live in and the gradual loss of our freedom which should be right of every human being.
This is not about power or domination We just want your support.
Surely a better world would be one where women and men stand equal respecting our differences and using that to our advantage for a better country.
Restoring and strengthening equality will require effort on multiple fronts but every individual can play a part.
Irish Bog Oak sculpture of Woman and Man united
If we can bring anything positive from this let it be change for the better.
Have the conversations whether it makes you uncomfortable or not.
Be brave and speak your truth.
Educate your children about what respect means and lead by example.
Big changes are never easy
It's too late for Aisling Murphy but maybe the rest of us can stand up and fight in her name
We don't want to rest in Peace we just want to live in Peace
*Thank you to Seán Fitzgerald for giving me permission to use some of his stunning and powerful artwork 🙏💚*
The chariot (Queen Medb) by Seán Fitzgerald