Roisin Ingle: Why I'm writing my final column
One day you find yourself longing to be free from the internal and external pressures compelling you to interrupt ordinary moments by turning them into columns
So goodbye again. (Again.) Thanks for reading. For caring. For understanding
"Are you on strike from your column?” my friend asks, her face filled with concern.
As it happened, I’d just been to see the magnificent Billy Elliot in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, a show featuring striking miners. As a consequence, the prospect of spending time on a picket line is quite appealing.
“I’m not on strike,” I tell her, before trying it again in my best Billy Elliot Geordie accent:
“Buh ahm nuh oon strike, lass.”
“You big eejit. I know you’re not on strike . . . but people are asking if you are still writing the column? Taking a break? Packed it in?”
Well, here’s the thing . . .
I’ve been spilling my guts out on this page for the guts of 15 years. It has been the single most satisfying, joyous, challenging thing I’ve done in journalism. I am grateful to have had that opportunity.
It’s been a blast. Even the less good bits. That occasional, heart-gripping panic induced by the horribly blank laptop screen. The anonymous man who, ever since I wrote about my brother Siddhartha’s ghee, keeps sending me hand-drawn pictures of vaginas and vulvas with my name scrawled on them.
So it’s been (mostly) all good. But you know what they say about all good things.
I am busy. (Aren’t we all?)
The column was just one part of the busy-ness. I am the daily features editor of The Irish Times now. I present a podcast called Róisín Meets. I produce the Women’s Podcast which is full of excellent content for female and male ears.
Not bad for a working-class girl raised by a widowed mother of eight on handouts from the Sisters of Charity and butter vouchers from Charlie Haughey and Christmas hampers from the St Vincent de Paul. I’m glad I wrote that all down. I mostly forget but as I get older I find it’s important to remember.
(Some of you will recall my mother cried tears of disbelieving joy when I first told her the news that I was offered shifts in The Irish Times. Before asking suspiciously, “what kinds of shifts?”)
On strike from the column? No. Howay, nooooo. And yet. How to explain? To the man at the traffic lights asking why I hadn’t written here for a while. Had I “run out of ideas”? To the string of lovely people ringing and emailing asking “where have you gone?” and “are you sick?”
We’ve been here before. Many of you know that I have form when it comes to taking my leave. Remember when I left this space and threw myself a big leaving do with speeches and a whole poached salmon only to crawl back after a year because I missed it too much?
Then I got pregnant and had twins and thought I’d pack it in again, terrified I’d never have another idea in my life. But then I came back to work and had an idea and then another and quickly realised I could be a parent and a writer and, it turned out, more.
It’s like this, you see: columns run their course and new voices must be nurtured. But mostly it’s like this: one day you are down on Dollymount Strand with the ones you love, being rained on while eating egg sandwiches, keeping goal between jumpers. And you find yourself longing to be free from the internal and external pressures compelling you to interrupt this glorious series of ordinary moments, and all the moments to come, by turning them into columns.
Lately my daughters have started proudly telling strangers that their mother is “Róisín Ingle”.
It’s both endearing and embarrassing and it has made me think. About being “Róisín Ingle”. About who else I might want to be. For them. And for myself.
I wasn’t on strike. I was figuring stuff out. And while I’ll still be in The Irish Times and irishtimes.com editing, writing and podcasting, my time on this page is at an end.
So goodbye again. (Again.) Thanks for reading. For caring. For understanding.
I’ll see you – no, not you, Vagina Man – on the other side.