Wednesday, October 30, 2013


The cover of the Culture Magazine of The Sunday Times last weekend caught me attention as it featured a stunning photo of Dame Judi Dench who is currently starring in the movie ‘Philomena’ which opened recently in cinemas in Ireland.  Amid the sea of perfectly enhanced faces we normally see on the cover of magazines Ms Dench’s portrait is refreshingly beautiful in what I hope is an honest way.   

There is currently an ad on TV which begins by a woman announcing that she is growing old gracefully to her friend who in turn says that she would like to grow old disgracefully.  There are a number of women in the conversation mentioning things like glowing from within.  However just about the time that you the viewer is harbouring an inner glow in the hope that this is another refreshingly honest take on older women – they mention some bloody serum that ‘really works’.  A fact they know because of the ‘second looks’ they get.  Ta Dah... plus ca change?

The message stays the same – women must fight ageing all the way and remember that our worth is entirely dependent on how good, i.e. youthful we look.  The results of this ‘war on ageing’ can be seen every week on The X Factor as Ms Osborne resorts to jumping about a lot to make up for the fact that her face is not quite as mobile as it should be.  Madonna is another example of someone who is maybe winning the war on ageing by beginning to look extraordinary... anyone remember the series from the 80s called V (about reptilian people).  And then there is or was Cher... well.  I rest my case.

My husband is a photographer and he often says that women who have ‘had work done’ (God be with the days when that meant the addition of a conservatory) might look young from a distance but that up close they scare the bejaysus out of him.  

It’s beyond time that real women (who like me, even if I could afford ‘work’ I am way more afraid of looking odd than looking old) took a stand and retrieved women’s middle and senior years as being just as valid as their youth.

In ancient mythology woman was represented by the Triple Goddess of The Maiden, The Mother and The Crone.  The triple spiral found in ancient Ireland is said to be a representation of triumvirate view of woman.  The maiden was of course revered for her physical youth and beauty, the mother respected as the nurturer and carer.  And the Crone was respected for her wisdom.  But it was this wise and powerful woman, this Crone that became hijacked over the centuries to become the evil witch capable of knowing the unknown and of dastardly deeds.  By the middle ages she was a witch with evil powers but at least she had power.  In today’s society the older woman has been reduced to nothing.  Age is seen as entirely negative and we must fight to remain young....  to the point of cutting and pasting of our faces.

British actress Kristin Scott Thomas who is 53 spoke this summer about how she feels invisible and not just when she is in the company of younger co-stars but even walking down the street or among strangers.  And if someone as well known, as accomplished an actress, as beautiful as Ms Scott Thomas feels like that what about the rest of us?

Ageing is seen by modern society as failure, particularly for women.  And it seems to me that modern, older women are content to accept this as fact and to undergo surgery and injecting poisons in order to attempt to delay the inevitable?   This fact depresses me far more than noticing my lines and wrinkles.

Tomorrow we celebrate the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.  Samhain marked the end of the harvest but it is also the time when we celebrate the Goddess as Crone. 

So amid the mayhem and madness this is time for older women to retrieve their true power.  We are in many ways at the pinnacle of our real power.  We have been around the block a few times; we have lived, perhaps given birth and raised children.  We have worked, we have loved, we have cried and we have laughed.  We have gathered wisdom and stories along the way.

The Crone stage is not the end.  It is a new beginning.  It is time women to step into your power, don your witch’s hat and scream it from the rooftops.  WE ARE WISE POWERFUL for invisible... only if you allow yourself to be.


Thursday, October 24, 2013


I am delighted that one of my ambitions came to fruition this week when I presented my first radio programme, THE HEN HOUSE on Dublin South FM.

I will be presenting The Hen House every Wednesday at 4pm when I will spend the hour in the company of some very interesting women.

My first guest was Jillian Godsil.  You can listen here

Enjoy.... and I would love to know what you think!


Saturday, October 5, 2013


As I write the result of the Seanad Referendum has just been announced.  The country has voted No to abolishing Seanad Eireann.  Reform – well that’s a whole other day’s work, particularly since Enda stated clearly that a No vote will not result in this Government undertaking any reform of the second house.

I am personally much cheered by the independence of mind shown by the Irish electorate on this issue. Against the massed armies of Sinn Fein, Fine Gael and Labour we had only Fianna Fail as a party urging a ‘No’ vote.  Fianna Fail, who are still taking baby steps back towards their rehabilitation with the electorate, certainly seemed to have judged the zeitgeist just right.  But it would be foolish for Michael Martin or any of his colleagues to get too excited about the victory of their side over the Government parties and the only other party of opposition in this referendum.  In my opinion although Martin performed ably during the two TV debates, this is not his victory. 

What is important about the result of the Seanad referendum was the range of independent, credible and passionate voices on the No side.  Probably most prominent of these was Professor John Crowne whose insightful intelligent contributions were hugely important in this debate.  Senator Katherine Zappone was another voice who articulated her view with zeal and enthusiasm.  Duirmuid Ferriter too and in the latter days of the campaign poet Theo Dorgan also spoke out to retain the Seanad.   

Political parties would be wise to learn that the electorate of this country are not stupid.  We don’t like being bullied into making a decision on a matter that no one was campaigning about.  We were cajoled into believing that abolishing the second house would save us €20m and allow us to enjoy sacking a load of politicians.  As a nation of bullshitters, we see right through bullshit.

As we stand at the beginning of the decade of commemoration of the events which lead to Ireland gaining her freedom, it is heartening to know that we continue to value that freedom and our democracy.  We might be a bit slow to protest against unfair austerity but we have shown that we do cherish the very freedom that the last Government pawned in order to pay the gambling debts of a bust bank. 

So Michael Martin – you judged it right and you ran a good campaign.  But this is not your victory.  The victory is the peoples.  And the people, mirroring events almost a century ago were led by academics, thinkers, poets and doctors.  What we need now are new political leaders.  If this folly of a referendum is to teach us anything it must be that!