On an episode of her podcast Love Stories last year, the author and podcaster Dolly Alderton was joined by the inimitable Sharon Horgan. Early on in their conversation, Horgan was midway through a thought when she interrupted herself. "Am I talking too much?" she asked. Alderton replied that of course she wasn't. She then went on to make an astute observation about Irish women.
“This is something that Irish women do every time I interview them,” said Alderton. “There is this real sense of, ‘Oh I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be talking too much.’ It’s like, ‘I’ve literally asked you here to talk!’ It’s so funny that all Irish women do that when I interview them. There’s this real sense of not wanting to take up too much space or something.”
Alderton is not wrong. Irish women are modest to a fault. We have been conditioned to not talk about ourselves too much. We avoid shouting about our achievements and bat away any compliments that come our way by dwelling on our flaws instead. If someone congratulates us on, say, a promotion at work, we assure them that it’s not a big deal because literally anyone with a single brain cell could do the same.
Similarly, if someone tells us we’re looking well, we politely inform them that they’ve merely caught us on a good day because most of the time we look like a microwaved bowl of gruel. God forbid anyone think we’ve developed notions about ourselves.
I would go so far as to say our capacity for craic and divilment is unrivalled.
It’s a shame because Irish women deserve to be celebrated. Indeed, it’s high time we acknowledge what a glorious bunch of gals we are.
With all that in mind and with International Women’s Day upon us, I would like to propose a toast to Irish women.
Here’s to what great fun we are. Whether we’re having conspiratorial chats in the office kitchen or recreating Riverdance on the dancefloor, Irish women are always up for a laugh. We love slagging each other, making ourselves look like eejits and cackling at bawdy jokes.
I would go so far as to say our capacity for craic and divilment is unrivalled. One only needs to board the train from Dublin to Kilkenny to witness firsthand how Irish women of all ages can transform just about any social gathering into a raucous party. Just give us some tins of gin, a packet of fancy crisps and we’re off. There may even be a rendition of A Woman’s Heart, but only if you’re lucky.
Here’s to the warmth and soundness of Irish women. I am thinking of the kindly women who call you “chicken”, “hun” or “petal” despite not knowing you from Adam. Or the gals who forge deep meaningful bonds with perfect strangers as they queue up to use the loos at music festivals. Or the acquaintances who can always be relied upon to comment, “You RIDE! Xxx” on your Instagram selfies. And let’s not forget the absolute gems who approach you on the street to gently inform you that the tag is still on your dress. Now that’s what I call solidarity.
The bravery and courage that Irish women have shown – and continue to show – cannot be overstated.
Here’s to our resilience. Historically, women in this country have endured untold horrors. We were denied basic rights and treated like second-class citizens. Magdalene laundries, mother and baby homes, the eighth amendment – despite the weight of such oppression, Irish women summoned the strength to fight back. They told their stories, they sought accountability and they demanded change. And they did so despite encountering great resistance from some of the country’s most powerful institutions. The bravery and courage that Irish women have shown – and continue to show – cannot be overstated. So here’s to the fact that in spite of it all, we keep on keeping on.
Here’s to how we cannot hear Zombie by The Cranberries without channelling our inner Dolores O’Riordan and singing, nay, caterwauling along.
Here’s to how whenever we uncover a great bargain – a cheap Aldi perfume, a €9 bottle of wine that tastes surprisingly alright – we make it our business to tell every single woman we know about it.
Here’s to how Irish women regularly brave freezing temperatures without wearing tights. Bear Grylls wishes he had that sort of stamina.
Here’s to how we always look after each other. Whether it’s doling out a painkiller to a sister in need or texting each other to make sure we got home safely, Irish women always have each other’s backs.
On this International Women’s Day, let us take a moment to bask in our collective magnificence. Let’s not worry about occupying too much space or talking too much. Instead, let us acknowledge how warm, funny, compassionate, and strong-willed we are. We are a force to be reckoned with and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Here’s to us. Sure, we’re deadly.