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A poem for her

I have been thinking about (and speaking about) this referendum a lot over the past few months. I put some of the feelings I’ve been having into the below poem. I have never experienced any of these things, I just tried to put myself in her shoes. I hope I haven’t done anyone a disservice, or trivialized any of the scenarios in any way.

I hope the people of Ireland look into their hearts on May 25th, and finally make this country a safer place for its women.

~

She takes the test, two lines appear
Nervous anxious gripped with fear
She wasn’t ready for this, it’s not the time
She can’t do anything about it, because in this country it’s a crime.

For months he’s beaten her, black, and blue.
Is it fair to subject a child to this too?
She doesn’t want anything else to tie her to this man
She’s desperate, scared and willing to do anything she can.

She orders an illegal box online
The pills arrive.
Shaking, she tells herself it’ll be fine.
Alone she takes them, on the advice that she will bleed.
A prisoner of her own body, she waits to be freed.

She’s not the only example that much is true,
Oh yes, there are many others too.

The expectant couple full of joy,
Happily looking forward to their little girl or boy.
“There’s nothing we can do, the baby has a fetal abnormality”
Shock and disbelief etched on their faces, surely this cannot be reality?
“How can I carry this baby knowing it will die?”
The doctor turns his back, unable to look her in the eye.
“You have options, but we can’t help you here”
The woman can’t quite believe her ear.
Abandoned by Ireland, tossed out by the state
Sent across the waters to deal with her fate.

It’s either that or wait for nature to take its course,
A smile for all the well wishers she must force.
No empathy, care or compassion.
Sweeping it under the rug in true Irish fashion.

Forcing wombs to become walking tombs

Then there’s the woman, the victim of sexual assault
Forced to carry her attacker’s child,
Sure it isn’t the little babies fault!
At the end of the day it’s a precious life,
Ireland doesn’t care about her personal strife.
No. she must become an incubator
For the life of the fetus is far greater.
The church tell us to vote no -“love both” they say
While 12 women are forced abroad a day.

Let me be frank:
They put our women in laundries and our babies in a septic tank.
Unmarked graves, lies cover ups and deceit
They would rather abortions stay unsafe and back street.

“She” is your mother, sister, daughter, friend
It’s time we stopped punishing tragedy, it has to end.
We won’t go out and abort enmasse, trust us to make our own decision.
That’s not the sort of Ireland any of us envision.
Women are not irresponsible, careless or inhumane
Please don’t continue to let the 8th cause us pain.
You might not agree with abortion, or ever have one, and that’s okay.
But someone, somewhere might badly need one someday.
Vote yes on May 25th and repeal the eighth.
Our bodies should no longer be up for debate.

 

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#IBelieveHer –

Yesterday was a sad day for rape victims. The jury returned a not guilty verdict in the Belfast Rape case brought against 4 Ulster & Ireland rugby players. (I can’t even bring myself to type their names). I was sitting in a coffee shop on my lunch when I heard the news, and honestly I felt sick reading about it. Not only that, but I felt angry, and afraid. You might think that’s a bit dramatic, but rest assured it’s a scary time to be a woman in Ireland.

Regardless of whether people believe the men did it or not, the way they treated the woman, and spoke about her in their group chat afterwards was downright disgusting. Their behaviour towards another human being despite being “guilty” or “not guilty” was horrible. These men should not be celebrated. It’s clear as day their attitude to women is vile, one only has to read the excerpts from their Whatsapp messages to know that.

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What’s even more concerning is seeing so many grown men (and women) celebrate this ‘win’ and vilify the girl further on social media. Some of the comments I’ve read in the wake of all this is not only disgusting, but frightening. I don’t want to draw more  attention to the filth that’s going around by reposting it here, but a quick glance on Twitter and Facebook and the contempt is plain for all to see.

This girl did everything right. She was raped. She went to a clinic afterwards, she reported it. She stood up for herself, she did all of the right things. And yet. She spent 9 weeks reliving her ordeal, having her life ripped apart and scrutinised, every past sexual encounter analysed. She was slut shamed, accused of lying for attention, you name it.

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We need to remember that the grounds to convict for rape beyond reasonable doubt are astronomical. Not guilty, does not mean innocent. Innocent is not the opposite of guilty in the context of a courtroom. That’s why it’s “beyond a reasonable doubt”. That’s why women go through all of this and still end up without a conviction, it does not mean they aren’t telling the truth. So many rapes go unreported, and what’s heartbreaking is so many more women will refrain from coming forward after yesterday’s verdict.

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I was feeling such anguish yesterday, I can only imagine what the victim herself is feeling. I felt so helpless, heartbroken for her, and so very ashamed of the system. I decided to pen these emotions into the below poem. I just hope one day we can start doing better.

 

They took turns treating her like a piece of meat.

She bravely faced them in court.

But today, justice was met with defeat.

What’s this they said “she got spit roasted?”

Sure last night was “hilarious” “love

Belfast sluts”, they boasted.

 

Meanwhile she’s broken, bruised, in tears and afraid

Hoping and praying that soon the ordeal, from her memories will fade.

“No one will believe me, sure it’s their word against mine”

“I won’t report it, I’ll forget it, move on, it will be fine”.

 

Somehow she found the strength to go on and peruse,

Not knowing that 8 men & 3 women would not believe it to be true

9 weeks she spent cross examined under fire

3 hours it took, to deem her a liar.

The Island of Ireland has had its say

The boys are innocent! she’s a slut!

Let’s call it a day.

 

Only they’re not, she isn’t, and it’s not good enough

Getting a rape conviction should never be this tough.

It doesn’t matter who she slept with today yesterday or before,

For this she did not consent, she did not ask for.

She was vilified, discredited and torn asunder.

“80% of rape victims don’t report”

It’s no wonder.

The jury suspected reasonable doubt

But I stand by her, I believe her, and to that I will shout.

I want her to know she’s not alone,

Love and solidarity from her fellow sisters, will always be shown.

-J

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The Beast from The East.

I love this little island of ours. The first sign of bad weather and the country goes into melt down, panic buying every bit of bread in sight. You’ve got to laugh. We’re a funny bunch, but I wouldn’t change us for the world.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the snaps of breadless shoping aisle’s across the country. The banter when we are faced with difficult weather conditions is mighty. We saw it almost 10 years ago when the ‘Big Freeze’ hit, and a mere couple of months ago during Storm Ophelia. Now it’s happening again as the ‘Beast from the East’ approaches. You wonder if something so comically named could possibly live up to it’s implied magnitude? The nation is preparing itself nonetheless. I mean how many other countries would start selling sliced pans on done deal in the wake of a weather emergency? bread.png

Not a bad offer to be fair. Here’s what one of my own local shops looked like last night:

imageAll of the commotion inspired me to pen a little rhyme earlier on today.

 

 The weather man says it’s going to be worse than eighty two
But with the sun shining out there how can it be true?
We sit and tentatively wait for this beast,
While shops are raided for our snow storm feast.

Indeed there’s nare a sliced pan to be seen,
A sign the panicked Irish man has been!
We’ll have enough Brennan’s to last the coming year,
But better that then run out, Christ imagine the fear!

Best bring in the sticks to keep the fire lit,
Remember, you wouldn’t be long about getting frostbit!
The kids are hoping the schools will close,
Looking for a carrot for the snowman’s nose.

Thersea Mannion warns not to travel far,
No unnecessary journeys are to be taken in that car!
Sure we better heed the advice, and keep inside
Nothing to do but let it all subside.

Fair play to all braving the cold,
But be sure to remember the homeless & the old.
Be safe, be warm and do have fun,
We’ll stick it out together till we see more sun.

If anyone needs me I’ll be huddled up by the fire awaiting my Pulitzer prize! In all seriousness though, do keep safe and warm and if you get a chance go out and build a snow man or too! It might be 40 odd year before we see the likes of it again… I’ll go now, but not before leaving you with a few gems.

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My Mental Health Story – #WMHD

So today is World Mental Health Day. To be honest I kind of feel like every day should be mental health day. We should be aware and looking after our minds everyday, but unfortunately it’s one of those things we are still so reluctant to address. With that being said I’d like to think we’re getting better.

It’s like whenever have any problems with our mental health we put them in a box, shove them to the back of the shelf, let them gather dust and just hope they go away. They never do. I don’t know about you, but I know I’m certainly guilty of that. I try to ignore the problem until it stops being one. I’m trying to get better at not doing that. Last month I went on a couple of training days through work, and I was lucky enough to become certified in Mental Health First Aid. (Yes believe it or not, it’s a thing!). It’s actually a very good thing. The course taught us how to recognise when someone is experiencing mental health difficulties, or in crisis, and how to respond. It was so insightful, not only did it equip me with the resources to help someone in trouble, it also taught me a lot about my own mental health, and how to help myself.

One thing they echoed throughout the course is that we all have mental health. Just like we have physical health. It’s only when it turns to “mental illness” that we become cagey. There’s a lot of negative connotations associated with the term mental illness isn’t there? It’s like our brains default to all the bad things associated with it. It’s like we are afraid of being labelled. Mental health professionals always use the broken leg analogy to make sense of this. I know we’ve all heard it a million and one times, but it’s so true. If you broke your leg you’d have no hesitation about going to the doctor to get it fixed. So why the reluctance when we’re not feeling the best emotionally? How come we don’t talk about when we’re anxious? or lonely? or depressed? Why is there such a fear?

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I didn’t really suffer with my own mental health until I was about 18/19. I mean I had your typical teenage angst, but outside of that I was pretty happy go lucky.  I’ve spoken about this a hundred times before, so apologies if I sound like a broken record. Those of you who know me/read my blogs are probably familiar with this story already, but for the day that’s in it I’d like to elaborate more. I experienced a bad bout of depression the year before I started college. My drink was spiked badly the night of my 18th Birthday and it had a pretty bad knock on effect. I collapsed the day after as it never worked it’s way out of my system. It essentially caused a really bad chemical imbalance in my brain. Anyway, I was taken to hospital where they found traces of LSD and a concoction of other stuff, in what I can only assume was some hideous date rape drug. I’m still counting my lucky stars I never wandered away from my friends that night. I naively assumed at he time that afterwards, life would go back to normal. Only it was far from normal.

I was so low after what happened me. I was angry, sad, lonely, confused. I had this emptiness in my chest and stomach that I couldn’t account for. Things were so different. It sounds dramatic, but I no longer felt like the person I was prior to what happened. I felt it had changed everything about me, knocked all my confidence and made me a shadow of my former self. It was decided I would take a year out before starting college. Something which was never even close to being on my radar at the time.

I had to go on a steroid based tablet to restore the chemical balance in my brain. These tablets were not fun let me tell you. A long with putting you back together, they also make you pile on weight. And for an 18 year old girl who was used to being a size 8-10 it might as well have been the end of the world. So there I was. At home, about 2 stone heavier, watching all my friends move on and start college and feeling absolutely terrified of life.

I had never experienced such a lowly feeling before. It’s something my present self now comes to recognise as depression. I was depressed. As grim as it sounds, the only time I felt peace was when I was asleep. I’d dread waking up because that feeling would be there, waiting. Those around me kept telling me it would get better, but what did they know? They weren’t feeling like this. How could they possibly know? I honestly thought I was doomed to feel this way forever. Suddenly things that I had no issues with before were becoming an extreme source of anxiety. For instance, I’d fret about meeting up with a friend for days leading up to it. I’d worry about completely irrational things, like not having anything to say, or them thinking I was stupid. I started worrying about those close to me dying. I worried I’d never be able to go to college, that I’d become this lonely recluse.quotw

So, how did I get better? Tbh, looking back I don’t think those tablets I was on helped at all. I think they had a lot of undesirable side effects that actually proved counter productive to what they were trying to do in the first place. Nonetheless, doctors orders. I was on them for 7 months. Things slowly started improving when I came off them. In April of that year, a good friend asked if I wanted to go on an inter-rail around Europe. The ‘old Jess’ would’ve been jumping for joy. This new Jess? Cowering in fear! However, my family really encouraged me to go, so I did. I mean I was terrified, but it ended up being the best thing I ever did. I completely pushed myself out of my newfound comfort zone and it was the perfect medicine. I came back after the 3 weeks and the change in me was remarkable. I finally started to feel a bit like my old self. My spark was returning. I went to college two months later, joined the gym, made new friends and life slowly returned to ‘normal’.

I’m aware it’s not as ‘miraculous’ for everyone. But the point is, it does get better. It always gets better. People were telling me it would, but in my lowest moments I just couldn’t see the light. But it was there, it just took me a little while to get to it. And that’s okay. If you happen to be reading this and you’re feeling a little lost, or hopeless, please know you’re worth a whole lot more than you’re feeling right now. The voice inside your head is wrong, it will get better.

Looking back almost 7 years on, I am grateful for the experience. As horrible and all as it was at the time. It taught me a lot about myself and about life. We all go through dark times. I’m sorry for the incredibly cliché ball of cheese that’s about to come, but I think it really did make me stronger. I became better equipped to handle the different things life has thrown at me since. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means invincible. I just gained invaluable insight and perspective. I get the odd bad day like everyone else. I struggle with anxiety from time to time, but I do my best to keep a handle on it. I talk when I need to talk, I write when I need to write, and I cry when I need to cry. I just wanted to share this little story in the hopes that it might be a source of comfort to some who are going through a rough time.

Then again, I might be completely self serving and the world wide web might not give a shit. Either way, it’s out there. Look after yourselves.

~J

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Long time no see

Hello little old blog of mine. God, it’s been a long time! Not sure if I’ve been too busy to write, or too lazy. It’s probably the latter in all honesty, but I’m going to compromise with a combination of both.

I’ve missed writing my random rants and musings regularly. I’m going to make an effort to revive this more (is it too early for a new year’s resolution!?). The last time I posted it was in the wake of the Manchester terror attack. Sadly, just a few days ago America witnessed a horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas. 50 dead and 500 or so injured. I wish I could say things have changed on the terror front, but 5 months on the world is still as desolate as ever.

In more positive news, (depending on how you look at it), I’ve gained an extra year of life since I last wrote. So 24, how’s she looking so far? You may recall many of my posts last year were riddled with post college uncertainty. Well you’ll be glad to know, I’m slowly coming to terms with my newfound ‘adulthood’. I actually paid off my student overdraft last week, hoorah! All by myself, no help or handouts. That was a nice feeling 🙂 I wasn’t in huge debt or anything, but it was nice to be in a position to do that and to finally feel somewhat financially independent. Career wise I’m on to job numero 3. I know right, talk about all over the shop. It’s actually been a great learning experience and I can officially report that the 3rd time is a charm 😉 I’m a firm believer in going after what’s right for you and figuring out what makes you happy. So what if that takes you 10 different jobs?

I wrote a post back in March shortly after moving back from London. I spoke of my excitement about job number 2 and how it felt right etc etc. Let’s just say thank god it was only a 3 month contract. It’s funny how your intuition can be so off. I had a pretty lowly 3 months. The job didn’t live up to a single thing it promised whatsoever. So I found myself looking at other options yet again. I booked myself a TEFL course and decided that was my next move, get out, get abroad and teach English. I think I also wrote a post detailing those desires. But of course life got in the way once more, when my lovely other half landed himself his first teaching job in London.

The irony eh? His job ended up being 10-15 minutes from the area in London where I used to live. You couldn’t write it. At this point I felt a bit like life was taunting me. Throwing up bricks in the way of every plan I tried to make, laughing meretriciously along the way. So we were back in a long distance situation once again and I was facing that all too familiar feeling of What the fuck am I gonna do now?  Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long before another opportunity presented itself.  I was actually offered another job before I finished out my other contract.

I’m now working for an High School Exchange Year program with a company called EF. We bring in students from all over the world to spend a year living in Ireland and going to an Irish secondary school. I handle the social media/marketing side of things, as well as finding and screening new host families. It’s genuinely so interested and rewarding.

Finally I can say I’m working for a company I really care about and one that cares about me in return. In August we spent two weeks in Maynooth with 70 of our students who signed up to a welcome camp. The camp was designed to prepare them for their year in Ireland as well as combining lots of fun activities. While there was a bit of cabin fever, it was so much fun and it was something different. I mean how many jobs offer you the chance to spend a Monday afternoon milking cows and jumping into a bog with 70 international teenagers?

 

I get to travel a lot with it too, which is great. Right after Christmas we are taking some students to London for a week, and in April we’re going to Edinburgh. Which will be nice, seeing as I’ve never been! We also recently found out that all offices worldwide get to go to Cancun at the end of January. We’ve already broken out the sombreros..

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Okay I’ll stop gloating now.. all in all despite the set backs things are good right now. I fly over and back to London around once or twice a month, and on the weekends I’m not there Tom flies back. I mean it’s not a dream situation, but we made it work when I was there, so it’s only fair we make it work now that he’s there. We’ll see where the next adventure takes us in six months or so.

🙂

~J

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Thoughts on Terror

Recent happenings in the world have left me feeling very angry and confused. I wasn’t going to blog anything about it, but I’ve found in the last two weeks it’s all I can think about. It might be somewhat cathartic to get it out, so here goes.

I am of course referring to the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London. On May 22nd Salman Abedi a horrific monster, detonated a deadly nail bomb as thousands of young people were leaving the MEN after Ariana Grande’s concert. 22 people lost their lives, among them 7 children, the youngest being just 8. Many more were seriously and critically injured. And for what? So one evil extremist could carry out a senseless attack under the influence of the most cowardly and despicable ideology.

A mere 12 days later, in London, 3 more monsters carried out yet another fatal attack. They drove a van into innocent pedestrians on London Bridge, before going on to stab and slash others at Borough Market. 7 people lost their lives, and some 50 others were again seriously injured.  As was the case with Manchester, the stories of the victims are quickly emerging. One woman, Chrissy Archibald died in the arms of her fiance. Another victim, James McMullan had been out celebrating the completion of a business project that he had dedicated all of his time to for two years.

What is exceptionally poignant about this, is the fact that these people probably expressed the same shock and sympathy for the Manchester victims less than two weeks before they met the same tragic end. I just cannot fathom it.

I spent 3 hours on Sunday evening, like many I’m sure, absolutely engrossed in the One Love Manchester concert. Ariana Grande’s sheer courage and strength in the face of something so awful was a source of comfort to many. The whole concert was such a beautiful display of love and solidarity. I am just in complete awe of this woman. She could have hidden away, she could have stopped performing for a very long time. No one would have blamed her. But she didn’t. Instead she brought some of the biggest names in music together in direct defiance to these evil atrocities. Even after another horrifying terror attack occurred on the eve of the concert, she still carried on. She spent the days in the run up to the event visiting her injured fans in hospital, and meeting with the friends and families of those who sadly passed away.  I mean what an incredible feat of bravery. If it were me, I honestly don’t know how I would pick myself back up.

The one thing we are hearing time and time again in the wake of these attacks is that we shouldn’t let hate win. And I agree 100%. The concert on Sunday night restored everything these vile jihadists do their best to extinguish, love, happiness and unification. Though everything is scary and uncertain, we can’t stop going about our lives out of fear. It’s exactly what they want.

With that being said, something needs to be done. Our solidarity in the aftermath of these tragedies simply just isn’t enough. It’s not enough for politicians to spew us the same rhetoric over and over again while we sit back and just wait for the inevitable. They are telling us hate won’t win, but at the moment it kind of is. So many innocent lives have been lost and it’s happening at an increasingly frequent and alarming rate. It’s not a case of if anymore, it’s a case of when and where. We are often told not to be angry. And I get where people are coming from with that,  “reacting in a similar way to these extremists is exactly what they want”, but I don’t entirely agree. At the end of the day all these cowards want to do is kill, and they are succeeding. So I’m sorry, but that makes me fucking angry.

What makes me even angrier is the fact that many of these attackers were known to police and intelligence services?! Members of Salman Abedi’s community had expressed their concerns over his apparent radicalization and extremist views to the police. Yet nothing was done. Salman was allowed to carry on as normal. Similarly, Kurham Butt actually appeared on a channel 4 documentary ‘The Jihadists Next Door’ which details the rise of Islamist Extremism in the UK. In the show, Butt was seen praying with a group of extremists in Regents Park, and fraternising with a man who warned that one day the flag of ISIS would fly over Downing Street. Other members of Butt’s circle expressed the views that homosexual’s should be thrown from tall buildings, Britain should adopt Sharia Law, and adulterers should be stoned to death.

Why channel 4 are even giving these vile creatures a platform is beyond me!  How are we allowing these dangerous groups to propagate? What’s more is it’s also been claimed that Butt was reported to anti- terror groups on two separate occasions. One neighbour seemingly reported him after she caught him trying to convert her children to Islam and radicalise them. I mean I’m no expert on these matters, but surely that’s a gross failure on the part of those who are supposed to protect us?

How are these people slipping through the cracks when their evil intent is so inherently obvious? Who’s bright idea was it to make a TV show highlighting these monsters, allowing them to brag, instead of reprimanding them for it? I just don’t understand. I get that in most cases these extremists can be hard to infiltrate, but turning a blind eye to the ones that are right in front of us, in my opinion, is unforgivable.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to take away from the brilliance of the police and the emergency services, I mean the Met had responded to the attack in London in 8 minutes. That’s incredible. We just need more preventative measures. I’m not suggesting we close boarders or build walls or anything like that, but we need real action. Whatever form that comes in is up to the world leaders we’ve put our trust in. They just cannot continue to let us fall victim to attack after attack.

The fact is no one should go to a concert and not return home. No one should go out for a drink and have it end in tragedy. It needs to stop.

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Joys of Joy – A True Joy to Read

A couple of weeks ago I had just returned home to Kilkenny after a long working week in the Capital.  I settled comfortably into my nan’s sitting room, ready for the Late Late Show, our customary Friday tradition. The tea was brewed and our feet were up. First up Ryan informed us was a former Mount Joy prisoner, Gary Cunningham. I don’t know why, but almost immediately something piqued my interest. I just had an instant feeling that this man was going to have an incredible story, and boy god did he!

I was so drawn to Gary’s infectious positivity that night, that I couldn’t stop thinking about his story for a long time afterwards. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on his book! It took me a while to track down a copy mind you (it was flying off the shelves), but I was thrilled when I finally managed to get one, ( a signed one at that!).

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I flew through the book over two days, I was so moved by Gary’s story, I felt it only natural to blog my response!

Let’s be honest, every one of us has a preconceived attitude when it comes to criminals and prisoners. More often than not our immediate reaction is one of disdain and disgust. Sure they are all only vile scumbags who deserve everything they get right? No. Not always. What I love most about Gary’s story is that he reminds us that we are all only human. We all makes mistakes. Every single one of us. Granted, some make bigger mistakes than others, but none of us are absolved. Now I am not condoning  or making excuses for any sort of criminal activity,  nor is Gary. On the contrary, it’s about highlighting all of the good that can come when you own up to those mistakes.

A few years ago Gary was sentenced to 3 and a half years in prison. He was caught by the guards with a supply of cannabis he was collecting for a ‘friend’. Gary was on a dark path and by his own admission, spiraling out of control due to alcohol and substance abuse. His time in prison was to become the life changing experience he so desperately needed. Instead of facing his time with intense negativity, Gary embraced his sentence and owned up to his mistakes. Many times throughout his book Gary talks about how his struggles with drink and drugs had rendered him an extremely selfish and destructive person. He was destroying his relationships with those closest to him, and caring for no body but himself. Little did he know that prison would become his saviour.

It was so refreshing to read a tale so brutally honest, yet so immensely uplifting. The story doesn’t glorify prison life at all. It doesn’t detail the horrors we have come to expect from TV Shows and pop culture, rather it gives a heart warming account of change and so much achievement.

While inside Gary coined the phrase ‘it’s not the time you do, it’s what you do with your time’, and did he do a lot with his time indeed! It was in prison where he discovered a love of writing, penning romantic poems for the girlfriends of fellow inmates, winning two Prison writing competitions and compiling the pages of the very book on our shelves today. Not only that, but Gary went on to set up a successful rock band, The Off#enders, recording many songs and putting on performances in other prisons.

The camaraderie that is brought to life in the pages of Joys of Joy is nothing short of incredible.  Particularly the special bond formed between Gary and his best friend ‘Fitzer’, who we come to learn has an absolutely incredible voice! I’ve since heard one of the band’s covers on Youtube and I can testify to this.  It really shows that there are decent men in the prison system who are willing to work hard to reform themselves and their past mistakes. Rest assured, Gary didn’t stop there, he went on to set up Ireland’s first ever Prison Committee, which became a vehicle for change and a way for prisoners and staff alike to voice their concerns.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Gary was a big inspiration to many of his fellow inmates, whether he realised it at the time or not. The friendships depicted in this book will honestly make you laugh and cry! It’s written in a very casual and conversational tone, which I love. You can almost hear the lads and all their ‘Dublingo’ in your head as you read, and this only adds to the honesty.

Aside from the other inmates, Gary met many more remarkable people in the form of the Prison officers and Teaching staff. Prior to reading this book, I was always under the impression that the staff in prisons just didn’t give a shit about the inmates. (I suppose that’s down to the copious amounts of ‘Bad Girls’ and ‘Orange is the New Black’ I’ve binged watched over the years!). Now while there were some of that nature, I was surprised to find the majority of staff Gary encountered were in fact, the very opposite.

It was really comforting to know that there are some great staff in the IPS who genuinely want to help men and women like Gary, in their quest to better themselves. The bonds Gary forms with his teachers is amazing. We should applaud this people, because they are doing wonderful things and making such a profound difference. It’s not something we hear an awful lot about, and we should.

I don’t think we should condemn our prisoners. The truth is not all of them deserve to rot in a cell. I am sure there are many who disagree with me, but I urge you to have a little empathy. You only have to read Joys of Joy to see that so many Irish Prisoners are working so hard to be better people.  As I said before, we are all only human. Joys of Joy is raw, it’s real, and every single one of us should read it before we are so quick to judge.

 

** You can purchase Joys of Joy from all good bookstores nationwide, or alternatively you can order it from the Liffey Press here **