Irish women reveal their secrets in postcard campaign

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

Images from the 'Cailíní Secret' exhibition, which saw Irish women in London share their secrets as part of a mental health project.

“I’m depressed. My family won’t understand.”

“Every night, I take three buses home rather than one so my evenings home alone are shorter.”

“I have been taking the pill for the last 18 months. My husband thinks we are struggling to conceive.”

These are just some of the “secrets” that Irish women living in London have divulged in an anonymous postcard campaign that has been turned into a book and a powerful art exhibition in London.

Entitled ‘Cailiní Secret’ and launched on St Brigid’s Day this week, it was inspired by a project by American, Frank Warren, ‘PostSecret’, in which he received thousands of secrets, sent anonymously on the back of postcards, from people all over the US.

“We sent 2,000 blank postcards to Irish women — cailíní — across London, and asked them to send us their secrets,” said Kumar Grantwho managed the project for Camden’s Mental Health Wellbeing Hub.

“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.”

Cailiní Secret was funded by Camden Clinical Commissioning Group, which had recognised that Irish women were not accessing mental health services.

It is aimed at supporting Irish women who are experiencing mental and emotional distress and encouraging them to seek help before they reach crisis.

The postcards are being showcased at the London Irish Centre.

Other secrets the women revealed included:

“I regret never telling my friend her husband abused me the day before they married.”

“I don’t remember my parents ever telling me they love me.”

“My mum is an alcoholic and it upsets me.”

Another image showed three catwalk models and the confession: “I wish I looked like them.”

Assistant project manager 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.

“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.”



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