A Snapshot of Ireland’s Changing Culture

A snapshot of Ireland's changing culture: same-sex marriage, euthanasia, abortion, gender Talking About FamilyWhat does the future hold for the island formerly known as the Isle of Saints and Scholars?

Last month saw Ireland become the first country in the world to vote in favour of same-sex marriage. 62% of voters supported a constitutional amendment  to introduce same-sex marriage. This was a wake-up call to many people, home and abroad, who still viewed Ireland as a Catholic country. There have been many factors that have contributed to this change in identity and culture in Ireland. The aim of this post, however, is not to examine why a supposedly Catholic country voted definitively in favour of same-sex marriage.

This post is a snapshot of Ireland’s changing culture. It outlines six other items in the news in the last month which didn’t gain as much attention as the marriage referendum, and may have even passed some people by. Yet, they point to a radical cultural shift which is transforming the island and impact the family.

FacebookCustomGenderSelector1 May: Irish Facebook users can choose from 71 gender identities on Facebook (The Irish Times)

Users can now choose up to 10 of the 71 terms to accurately describe their gender identity. Gender theory is the denial of biology and promotes the idea that gender that this is infinitely fluid and malleable.

21 May: The Ashers Bakery Ruling (The Belfast Telegraph)

In Northern Ireland, Ashers Bakery, owned by Christian couple Daniel and Amy McArthur, were asked to make a cake for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The customer (a volunteer member of the LGBT advocacy group Queer Space) wanted the cake have a picture of Bert and Ernie (the Sesame Street friends who have been hijacked by the gay community who portray them as a homosexual couple) and the words “Support Gay Marriage”. Same-sex marriage is illegal in Northern Ireland. As same-sex marriage is against their beliefs, the owners declined the order. On 21st May, a judge ruled that “this is direct discrimination for which there can be no justification”. This is not direct discrimination, but now raises major concerns about religious freedom in Ireland.

marref results22 May: Marriage Referendum

Ireland voted in favour of amending the constitution to include “marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex”.

24 May: “Dr Death” holds a euthanasia workshop in Dublin (The Independent and Newstalk)

Dr Philip Nitschke held a workshop in Dublin on “end of life options”. He is famously known in his native Australia as Dr Death, and claims to be the first doctor in the world to administer a legal, voluntary, lethal injection. He successfully campaigned to legalise euthanasia in Australia and helped four people die, before the ruling was overturned.

The following day, Dr Philip Nitschke was on national radio station, Newstalk, sharing his chilling ideas with Pat Kenny. The podcast of the interview is available online.

25 May: Labour party promise abortion referendum (Newstalk)

The Monday morning after Friday’s marriage referendum, Minister for Equality Aodhán Ó Ríordáin appeared on Newstalk and promised a referendum on the 8th amendment if Labour are elected in the next general election.

caitlyn2 June: Bruce Jenner becomes Caitlyn Jenner (The Irish Times)

The unveiling of Caitlyn Jenner to the world brought the issues affecting Irish transgender individuals to the news headlines

3 June: Gender recognition bill (The Irish Times)

The Gender Recognition Bill was first published in 2014. It came to my attention this week when the Bill was changed. Under the 2014 Bill, a person who changed gender would have to divorce their spouse, if married. The 2015 Bill has dropped the “forced divorce” clause. Furthermore, the Bill adopts a “self-declaration” approach to affirming gender identity, as individuals will no longer have to have a supporting statement from a psychiatrist or endocrinologist.

This short video paints a bigger picture of the question of gender identity and the issues surrounding it in Ireland.


7QTs: Reflecting on Lent

Reflecting on LentCan you believe Lent is over? It’s crept up on me this year! After weeks of “I’ll do better next week” or “I’ll start again tomorrow”, I now look back at my attempts at prayer, fasting, almsgiving and general offering-up. It wasn’t one of those Lents where I gave up something big (sweet things, cigarettes, alcohol), and eagerly anticipated celebrating Christ’s resurrection with a Creme Egg McFlurry. I didn’t have a giving-up plan. Although my Lenten preparations weren’t perfect, I didn’t completely fail either. Here are seven quick takes…

  1. The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy

Do you know what the Corporal or the Spiritual works of mercy are? I have to be honest, I didn’t. At the beginning of Lent, I printed them out and stuck them to my fridge, so I looked at them at least a few times a day, and became more intentional about incorporating  them into my daily life.

The 7 Corporal & 7 Spiritual Works Of Mercy talking about family

  1. Visit the Sick

So I know this technically comes under my #1 point, Spiritual works of mercy, but I have done so much of it this Lent, I think it deserves its own bullet point! A few members of my family have been ill and in hospital. Poor them- Florence Nightingale I ain’t! But, with the help of God’s grace, I think I was able to bring a little help and comfort to them. Thank you, God!

  1. Giving up little thingsDeliciously Ella Sweet POtato Brownies Talksing about family

Like I said, this year wasn’t one of those Lents where I gave up something big. My diet is almost vegan, and I am avoiding sweet treats as a general rule, so giving up sugary things would be cheating, as I don’t eat any anyway. However, I recently discovered Deliciously Ella’s Sweet Potato Brownies.  Super-healthy, dairy-free, gluten-free deliciously chocolatey goodness. No, really! This was my one indulgence since I discovered Deliciously Ella at the beginning of the year. Well, around the second week of Lent, I realised this was my one indulgence that had to go!

  1. The Social Media Heroic minute?

Have you ever heard of the heroic minute? I first read about it on Brandon Vogt’s blog. The idea was that of Opus Dei founder, St. Jose Maria Escriva;

Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a set time, without granting a single minute to laziness. If with the help of God, you conquer yourself in the moment, you have accomplished a great deal for the rest of the day. It’s so discouraging to find yourself beaten in the first skirmish (The Way 191).

Instead of giving up Facebook but turning to Twitter, or only checking Pinterest on Sundays, I decided to be more intentional about my social media usage. You know those times when you have a free minute and you find yourself drifting off into cyberspace? Or you think “I’ll just have a quick look at Twitter” and what seems like a minute later, you realise you have achieved nothing and actually wasted the last 15 minutes of your life? Well, the Social Media Heroic Minute was about nipping those moments in the bud. Close the browser. Put the smartphone down. Do something worthwhile instead.

  1. Reading ScriptureBlessed is She and Magnificat Talking About Family

I have never been great at doing this every day, even though my husband often reads the Magnificat over breakfast and leaves it on the table. Open. Ready to read. It. Couldn’t. Be. Easier! Some days, I confess, God gets squeezed out. This Lent, I have made an effort that no matter how long my to-do list, to put God at the top. I found that most days, by doing this first, the rest of the to-do list has handled itself!

  1. Spiritual Journaling

I was delighted to get my hands on a wonderful Blessed Is She Lenten Journal this Lent. I used to keep a spiritual journal, but fell out of practice somewhere along the way. I love getting the daily devotions from the #BISsisterhood, which prompted me to get the journal. Although I haven’t managed to write in it every day, I have been writing in it most days, and will be getting a new journal to continue after Easter Sunday!

  1. Changing plans

I  was really looking forward to the Triduum. Really really looking forward to it. After discovering that the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the Easter Vigil clashed with baby’s bedtime, I realised I might not make all the Easter ceremonies this year. Then I read Living the Triduum. Although I may not be able to make it to the services, I’m inspired to remember Christ’s passion, death and resurrection through prayer and meditation throughout these days.

How about you? How was your Lent?

Thanks to Kelly for hosting 7QTs! For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!