Memoirist, Teacher, Certified AWA Facilitator
I am a certified facilitator in the Amherst Writers and Artists Method. This method was developed by Pat Schneider in the early 1980s as a result of her involvement with the free writing movement. The principles of the AWA Method, to empower the disempowered and give voice to the voiceless, called deeply to me, both as a silenced woman emerging from a very damaged culture and as a former primary school teacher with a love of the profession.
I received my Bachelor of Education honors degree from Saint Patrick’s College in Dublin, Ireland and spent a decade teaching in the primary school system where I earned my H. Dip. That decade of teaching was both the happiest and the saddest of my life, the happiest because of the sheer joy brought to my daily life by the hundreds of children for whom I had the privilege of providing care and education, the saddest because I lost two people dear to me, my father who succumbed to heart disease and a best friend and first cousin who passed at 21 from breast cancer.
In that latter years of my teaching career, I became critically ill and over time, completely lost my health, my ability to walk, and my will to live. It took a number of years for doctors to finally diagnose me with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, a much-maligned disease, viewed by many then and still as the condition of the ‘hysterical woman.’ I retired from my teaching career and, desperate for alternative healing methods, moved to the United States.
Once here, I began the long journey of healing from PTSD, lifelong trauma, and abuse, identifying in my own self the role of suppressed and stolen truth as the root cause of disease. Over the next decade I employed many methods to my recovery process: psychotherapy, acupuncture, nutritional healing, Reiki, EMDR, EFT, Psych K, Soul Retrieval, and Buddhist practice.
I also turned my gaze to my primary passion: writing. There is a belief among traditional musicians in Ireland that it takes a decade of listening and learning before apprentice musicians pick up the tools of a craft. In deference to that belief, I have spent the last decade and more attending weekly workshops and weekend intensives with many authors across the country, among them Ellen Bass, Laura Davis, Lindsey Alexander, Toi Derricotte, Dorian Laux, Joe Millar, Pat Schneider, Elana Dykewomon, and Jennifer Cross.
During that time, I have completed my first memoir, Girl in Irish, which chronicles the early years of my life in rural southwest Ireland.
My writing life now focuses primarily on three areas: women in Ireland and our inherited second-class state; trauma and recovery from the epidemic of abuse and PTSD among the Irish people particularly women and girls; and writing as a radical act of saving one’s life.
In the process, I am learning to claim the gallows humor I inherited from a long line of survivors. My work has appeared in Sinister Wisdom, Sonoma Women’s Voices, and The Courage to Heal.
I currently teach writing workshops in the SF Bay Area.