Irish Women Have Been Sharing Their Secrets

Irish women in London have been anonymously sharing their secrets.

These confessions – ranging from regret, betrayal, desire to childhood memory – have been collected together and will be showcased in an upcoming art exhibition and book entitled Cailíní Secret.

Launched on St Brigid’s Day (Wednesday 1 February) at the London Irish Centre, the exhibition and book promise to be powerful yet tender.

“I wish I could be kinder to myself.”

Supported by the London Irish Centre charity, the Cailíní Secret project is a London based campaign aimed at supporting andempowering Irish women who are experiencing mental and emotional distress.

It was inspired by Frank Warren and his 2005 project ‘PostSecret’, in which he received thousands of secrets, sent on the back of a postcard anonymously from people all over the United States.

“We sent 2,000 blank postcards to Irish women – cailíní – across London, and asked them to send us their secrets.

“What we saw was beautiful and humbling. Slowly at first, secrets started to arrive. Personal confessions that had been kept hidden for sometimes more than 30 or 40 years,” describes Kumar who managed the project for Camden’s Mental Health Wellbeing Hub.

The project was funded by Camden Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). They identified that relatively few Irish women were accessing mental health services in Camden. Sadly it seems that many cailíní are suffering in silence and not seeking help for common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Without support women are becoming more unwell, often accessing support only when they reach crisis.

 

“I regret never telling my friend her husband abused me

the day before they married.”

Assistant Project Manager, Volunteer and London Cailini, Aoife Clements said:

“Cailíní Secret was created by Irish women for Irish women. We understand that one of our strengths – our endurance and ability to get on with things without making a fuss – can also be a weakness. In times of unhappiness, distress or life difficulty, many of us conceal our struggles instead of seeking support”.

“I feel alone. Even when I’m with my friends.”

Holding secrets can be heavy and burdensome. Secrets draw upon our mental and emotional strength and can make us feel tired or stressed. They also have the power to put strain on our relationships with friends and family.

“I have always wanted to be a famous singer

since I was 5 or 6 years old.

I’m now over 70.”

Sharing secrets can bring closeness and understanding, whilst easing an emotional burden. It is hoped that through revealing secrets in this anonymous way, each woman feels a little lighter, a little less burdened. And that by reading them, other cailíní feel encouraged and more able to talk. After all, no one is alone in what they feel.

Dr Jonathan Levy, Camden GP and Camden CCG mental health lead said, “This book is just one part of a campaign to support Irish women, particularly those in London who are experiencing emotional or mental distress. Through sharing secrets

we would like cailíní to know they are not alone.

“I know he’s not the one. I said ‘Yes’ anyway. I don’t want to be alone.”

“We believe people of all ages and backgrounds will be able to connect with some of the powerful secrets shared in this book and that these stories can unite and strengthen a wider community. This is another innovative way we are working with different communities to increase awareness and reduce stigma around mental illness.”

“Every time someone underestimates me, I picture them

binge-watching my hit TV show in 10 years’ time!!!”

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