Oct 11 2016

Have A Chat About Mental Health Today

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Have a chat or two about mental health today. In work, this morning, I already have. I mentioned to a couple of construction worker colleagues that Mental Health Awareness Week is all over Facebook this morning. We all agreed that it’s a great thing. We all agreed that everyone should feel comfortable talking about it. We shared brief stories of some bad times we all went through (nothing too deep, but enough to keep the conversation going).

It was nice. It was simple. No one felt uncomfortable. No one snickered and wanted to avoid the topic. It’s all about awareness and keeping the topic of mental health alive and out of the taboo.

So, I would recommend everyone try have at least one chat about mental health today. You can start simple and mention that it’s all over Facebook. You can ask other people what it’s all about. If you’re so inclined, share a story or two of your own or ask people questions about their experiences or the experiences of people they know. Everyone has mental health! And mental health problems affect almost every single person at some point in their lives. Let’s make sure that everyone feels comfortable talking about the topic. It’s only through awareness and breaking the taboo that people will feel free to seek help when they truly need it.

I’ll keep chatting about it. I hope you will too.



Mental Health Ireland

Mental Health Awareness Week

The Samaritans
Freephone: 116 123
Text: 087 260 9090

Aware.ie (Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder & Anxiety)
Tel: 1800 80 48 48

National Suicide Helpline (Pieta House)
Freephone: 1800 247 247
Tel: 01 623 5606

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Oct 04 2016

Repeal The Flippin’ Eighth

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Repeal the flippin’ eighth. How the hell did that amendment get enacted in the first place? Were our parents really so indoctrinated by the White Cloaked Pietists that they were unable to see that by granting rights to the unborn, they remove rights from the very-much-born?

Repeal the 8th

In nineteen hundred and eighty three, an all party comedy of errors led Fine Gael’s Garret Fitzgerald, alongside his coalition partners in Labour, to sign in to law a Charlie Haughey (Fine Fáil) drafted amendment to the Constitution of Ireland which guaranteed that the State would “acknowledge the right to life of the unborn”. It also includes “with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother” but I feel this tag-on has often been forgotten in successive years. After an acrimonious Referendum campaign that resulted in a staggering 67% favourable vote, that amendment was made law. That was thirty-three years ago this week.

I don’t need to remind any Irish readers how tight a hold the Roman Catholic Church has had on this country for eons. I was interested to discover that one of the main groups to oppose the 8th Amendment in 1983 (before and afterwards) was the Irish Council of Churches. This is essentially a club for all Christian churches who are not Roman Catholic.

In 1992, we held three abortion related referenda on the same day (because we do love to confuse the Irish electorate – Nice Treaty anyone?). One was rejected, two passed.

The Twelfth Amendment proposed that the possibility of suicide was not a sufficient threat to justify an abortion. This was thankfully rejected. Our Nation has already a terrible track record for mental health, particularly in relation to suicide, without muddying our constitution further.

The Thirteenth Amendment specifies that the prohibition of abortion would not limit freedom of travel from Ireland to other countries where a person might legally obtain an abortion. The proposal was approved and further popularised the delightful Irish idiom, “taking a trip to England”.

The Fourteenth Amendment specifies that Irish citizens have the freedom to pursue and learn about abortion services in other countries. The proposal was approved and ensured Doctors and Nurses could no longer be persecuted for providing patients with information relating to abortion.

Repeal the 8th

In 2002, there was yet another referendum, The Twenty-Fifth Amendment. This again, attempted to remove potential suicide as a legitimate reason to allow a woman access to an abortion. It was narrowly defeated. It was a referendum that starkly showed the rural/urban divide in Ireland and clearly highlighted that the issue of abortion was a passionate and divisive one, which needed to be urgently addressed on a State level.

So, eleven years later, the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 was enacted, which did provide for abortion in circumstances where life was threatened by a risk of suicide.

Our politicians have been consistently terrified of losing votes, losing seats, losing access to brown envelopes. As a result, for far too long women have been treated as second-class citizens, incapable of deciding what to do with their own bodies. The fact that so many of the heel-draggers and anti-abortionists have been women is saddening to say the least.

That was a hop-scotch history of the people’s vote on abortion since the Eighth Amendment was enacted. I have purposely skipped the countless extremely important legal cases that drove each referendum, including and not limited to The X Case; The C Case; A, B and C v Ireland; and, of course, the heartbreaking death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012. I could spend weeks talking about these and more, but I’d rather push forward to why abortion should be legal in this country and why the Eighth should be repealed.


So, repeal the flippin’ eighth! For the past few years (the first annual March for Choice was 2012), there have been march after march, protest after protest, campaigning, lobbying, shouting and screaming, all leading to one inevitable point – a new referendum on the issue of abortion. One that will see the removal of the 33 year old Eighth Amendment.

Frankly, my own personal opinion is that women have the right to choose what they do with their body and the State should not be allowed to intervene. I understand that it isn’t as black and white as that. The fact that this is one of the most widely debated topics in politics and beyond everyday politics proves that the complexity of the issue is why there does need to be some State involvement.

That involvement should be supportive, not demeaning. That involvement should be educational, not criminalising. That involvement should be positive, not overwhelmingly negative.

The crux of the Eighth is that is equates the life of a woman to that of an embryo. A foetus is not a child and an embryo is most certainly not a child. A woman who has become pregnant (for whatever reason) should have the right to choose whether she wants to allow an embryo become something more. That is a woman’s choice, not the State’s.

The vast majority of women who want and need abortions are unable to access them in Ireland under interpretations of this law. The law will allow abortions where the woman’s life is in danger. However, a woman may not seek an abortion in Ireland if she is pregnant due to rape. Come on!!!! The latest national statistics from Rape Crisis Centres show that approx 197 women and girls who attended their centres in 2013 were pregnant as a result of rape. 25% of these survivors went on to terminate the pregnancy, meaning they either had to take a trip to England or illegally take abortion pills in Ireland (which, incidentally, could result in imprisonment for up to 14 years under our law, for them or anyone who helps them). Are you infuriated yet?

Repeal the 8th

Women have already died in Ireland having been denied life-saving abortion procedures. Do I honestly need to keep talking? Women have already died because of laws created by our country. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

At least 150,000 women have traveled to other countries to procure abortions since 1980. And those are the ones who were lucky enough to be able to afford the emotionally horrific journey. Thousands of women are unable to travel for abortion services due to family, legal status, financial situation, or health.

I keep repeating myself, but the life and health of a pregnant woman has to have a much greater value than our constitution places on it, than our State currently allows, that “our Church” would ever admit to.

So, join the fight to Repeal the Eighth. Keep an eye on any events that are coming up. Donate to the cause. Get on Facebook and Twitter. March with us. Be proud Irish men and women and support the right to choose.

Repeal the 8th


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Apr 08 2015

Doctor Who, Season Two Finale, My Boyfriend’s Reaction To Rose Tyler’s Departure

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Having very recently converted Simon to Whovianism, we’ve reached the end of season two. We’ve seen Eccleston’s Doctor come and go and it’s taken mi chico Venezolano some time to come to terms with David Tennant.



As we come close to the end of Rose Tyler’s run as the Doctor’s companion, I thought it would be fun to begin recording his reactions to and opinions on the big moments from the show.

So, here is Simon, watching Doomsday, the season two finale, for the first time. Bless!


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Dec 16 2014

I Can’t Swim

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Apparently it’s the most natural thing in the world. If you throw a baby into a swimming pool (and let’s face it, who doesn’t want to do that every time you hear a screechy infant?) they will, with natural grace, begin to sink, thrash about, find the surface and learn a valuable lesson in how little trust you should place in adults. Thankfully, I was an angelic child who never drove his parents to attempted infanticide.

The downside? I didn’t get that natural start to becoming an Olympic Gold Medal swimming champ. I have vague memories of swimming lessons in Presentation College Bray. I have more distinct memories of a freezing, filthy cesspit. That was the locker rooms in Presentation College Bray, not Bray itself. Although, there’s an argument to be made.

When I was a kid, we often holidayed in Trabolgan in Cork. Their very awesome pool had a wave machine, a giant snakelike slide and a gradiated pool which meant I could always avoid going in too deep. I still have ridiculously fond memories of that pool, even now. However, I also have one fleeting memory of nearly drowning in said pool.

A siren went off every fifteen minutes or so to announce the wave machine was about to go tsunami on our asses. Myself and the other pathetically cowardly, weak-willed, scrawny, pitiful, wretched excuses for small humans would usually accept this siren as a call to abandon pool (or at least move to the paddling end in a feigned attempt at bravery).

On occasion, some of us would pluck up a modicum of courage and wade a couple of feet deeper, allowing the weakened waves to lap against our torpid torsos, proving we were real men.

I’m not sure what age I was when this happened. I guess I was about ten or eleven, which means I’ve been holding on to this traumatic experience for nigh on twenty plus years.

While attempting one of these fetes of bravado, I ventured a few inches further into the pool than I perhaps should. One of the waves that I had been so fascinated with was slightly larger than I expected and caught me harder than I could handle. I was knocked backwards. Then the previously insignificant undertow grabbed me like deaths hand in one of the horror movies my grandmother allowed me to watch at the time but my parents would have banned (my childhood relationship with and my ultimate love of horror movies is something I’ll talk about another time).

I’m not sure what I thought, but I’ve no doubt my brief period of existence flashed before my eyes. I kicked wildly and could feel myself being dragged deeper, in over my head. Water flowed into my mouth, my throat, my lungs. My screams were non-existent, but I tried to scream them none-the-less. I have a tiny photograph in my head of my final moment – my eyes were open, I was deep under the waves above, looking up at the water’s surface which was probably only inches away, but it may as well have been three miles from my face. This was it, my final moment, my last farewell, my death.

Then I was thrust forward and upward. Up high, out of the water. I came back down with a splash and was submerged again. The same sudden thrust happened again. My arms were wrenched up and water burst out of my mouth. I coughed briefly before plunging back into the spray again. With one final boost up and out, I caught a glimpse of my dad. He was swimming beside me, pushing me up out of the deep, closer to the edge of the pool. I found my footing, I was well within my depth, I was saved, I was alive. Coughing, tears, embarrassment, and panic followed. But I was alive.

So, you’d imagine that after that encounter, I would have made it my business to learn how to swim, to ensure I never endured anything like that again. Nah!

Nowadays, I love going to the pool in my gym. It’s not so deep that I can’t stand and breathe the wondrous air, so I never worry. I can float. I can wade a bit. I can flap my arms and kick my legs and slowly but surely flounder my way from one side of the pool to the other. I actually find the whole thing relaxing. No, I don’t need to swim.

Watching people doing endless lengths of the pool, plunging their heads and bodies deep under water for what seems like minutes on end, thrashing their arms and legs pointlessly from one end to the other – this all seems far too much like hard work to me. I’m happy as I am. And if I do end up dying because I fall from a ferry while crossing the Irish Sea, then so be it.

I can’t swim and I’m ok with that. The title of my next post? –  “I can’t drive”. 😛

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Nov 06 2014

I’m In A Choir. Did You Know I’m In A Choir? I’m In A Choir.

Published by under Blog

Paul-PottsI love singing. I’m no Paul Potts (I’ve a better waistline for starters), but I really do enjoy it. It’s relaxing, thrilling, challenging and, above all else, so much fun.

So… I’m in a choir. I joined the ‘Songs in the Key of D’ choir about a year ago and since then have met some amazing people, enjoyed singing the bass parts to some incredible mash ups and have performed the National Concert Hall twice. Who’d a thunk it!!

The ‘D’ in Songs of the Key of D stands for Dublin. It’s a Dublin choir, but certainly not in the traditional sense. We’re made up of Dub residents from all walks of life, all ages and all nationalities (well, not ALL nationalities, but we’ve a few foreign bodies in our mix). The music is a mix of traditional, modern, Dublin based and Dublin inspired songs (ok, there are a few loosely connected tracks in there too, but you’ll still love them when you hear them).

Next year, we’re going back to the National Concert Hall, hopefully to sell it out again. But before that, we’re hoping to record an album. The music ranges from the traditional Foggy Dew to the more modern mashups of songs like The Script’s Man Who Can’t be Moved and Boomtown Rats’ Tell Me Why (I Don’t Like Mondays). One of my favourites is the mashup of U2’s I Will Follow and Sinéad O’Connor’s Mandinka. We even bring things right up to date with our pretty awesome cover of Imelda May’s Mayhem. 🙂

Do you want to help us? Ah, you do! Go one sure. We’re in the middle of a big fundraising drive. We really want this album to come together and our founder Eoin Kilkenny has kicked off a FundIt campaign to raise some monies.

It’s a crowdfunding campaign, so you will get something back for helping us out. Here’s what Eoin has to say:

It’s important to us that the city reconnects with some of the music that has made it so special and that it’s sung by the people living there in 2014.

Rewards available to funders include advance copies of our album, copies of arrangements, tickets to an exclusive Christmas concert on Dec 2nd in UCD, and even a chance to sing with the choir!

All members of the choir are volunteers and in order to keep the choir as open to everybody as possible we don’t charge members a fee to join. Therefore, we would really love your support to help us raise the money to record this new album. It is important to us that this unique group has the opportunity to record the songs of their city, and so they can be kept alive through time.

We are aiming to raise over €6,000 to help us cover the cost of rehearsal venues, sound engineers, mics, mastering the tracks, designing the CD case and producing the final CD. The total cost will be over €11,000 and while we hope to raise some money through a fundraising concert and private donations – this Fund it campaign will make the bulk of the album costs. Through your generous funding we can make this album for Dublin City!

We’re half way towards our target of €6,000. If we don’t reach our target, we get nothing and the album won’t happen. And I’ll cry! You don’t want me to cry, do you? (don’t answer that)

We’re raised over €3,000 so far and we have only a few days to go. Please have a look through the rewards and help us out. If you think you’ll come to our next gig in December, then why not use this as an opportunity to buy your tickets early?

Songs in the Key of D has been an amazing group for me. They are all wonderful people and I can’t wait to see what we do next. Please help our campaign and be part of the group’s future. C’mon, look at these lovely people…




Follow Songs in the Key of D on Twitter

Add Songs in the Key of D on Facebook

Support our FundIt Campaign

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Feb 13 2014

Be My Valentine

Published by under Blog

I’m having a week of home truths. I’m attempting to be honest with myself, to stop deluding myself. I’m trying to stop lying to myself so much.

And the biggest lie I tell myself at this time of year is… Valentine’s Day isn’t such a big deal, it’s just another day.

I was chatting with Anto on Tuesday evening and we both wholeheartedly agreed – it’s a load of shite, means nothing, Hallmark holiday, etc. But the problem is that I don’t actually think that.

There’s a pathetic, hopeless romantic inside me. I love the idea of Valentines. I love that there’s an entire day dedicated to love. I love the cheesiness of buying flowers and chocolates. I love the idea of a romantic candlelit dinner. I love the cute, anonymous cards. I love the balloons and the oversized teddy bears. I love it all.

But, I’m alone. I’m single. I’ve no one to share this awesome day with. No one will buy me a dozen red roses. No one will surprise me with a nice meal in Trocadero. No one will buy me chocolates and tell me they love me.

Maybe it’s better that I keep deluding myself. Because this Friday, while I put on a smile and laugh with friends, inside I’ll be watching the happy couples and I’ll be so very jealous of what they have – each other.

So, if Mr or Ms Right is out there, can you please get in touch. Like, soon. Be my Valentine! Please!

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Jan 30 2014

My Joycean Nightmare

Published by under Blog

So, this is the reason I got sweet FA sleep last night.

My Joycean Nightmare Image

My Joycean Nightmare

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Jul 18 2013

Miss The Rain

Published by under Blog

I‘m done. I’ve had enough. It was pleasant for a day, but now I’m pissed off, I’m uncomfortable, I’m sick of it. I don’t like this weather. I miss the rain.

I miss the rain. I miss the dark and the cold and the grey clouds and the big jackets, wet feet, chilly nose. I miss it all and would happily take all of those wintry symptoms over this icky, unpleasant heaviness.

I know we’re not supposed to complain about this “wonderful weather”. I know we’re supposed to embrace it and say things like, “sure, it’s like being on holidays”, “it’s like we’re in Spain” and “it’s a great day for the beach”. Well, I can’t stand the frickin’ beach. It’s not Spain – it’s humid, muggy Dublin. And it’s not like being on holidays – I have to go to work.

I have to leave my apartment already sweating. I have to travel on a hot bus for 40 minutes. I have to sit in a poorly air-conditioned greenhouse of an office for 10 hours before hopping back on the same sticky bus for another 40 minutes. I don’t do any of those things when I’m on holidays. Do you?

And if another person tells me that I’m tempting fate by complaining about the heat…argh! Ghosts are in your imagination, there are no vampires, aliens do not abduct redneck Americans, there is no God, werewolves are only in movies and there is no such thing as tempting fate!!! If there was, I’d be practicing my rain dance.

I can’t be alone in this. Surely at least some of you agree with me. We can’t all have bought into this insane mass hysteria. We’re in Ireland. We’re not built for this. We’re built for duffel coats and boots, for whiskey by the fireside and dark nights indoors listening to the splattering of showers on the window. I miss the rain.

I don’t want a tan. I’m perfectly happy looking like my pigment was removed at birth. I like wearing clothes and I hate seeing overweight, hairy alcoholics wearing nothing but tissue of shorts, putting their moobs on show for the world.

And as I finish this post, I lie here naked in bed on bed, sweating, too warm to sleep, windows wide open. Bring on the thunder and lightning, bring on the break in this weather, bring on the clouds and grey skies, bring on the storms.

So, who’s with me? Who wants to tempt fate and do raindance? Let’s extinguish that big yellow torturer above and welcome back the comfortable familiarity of the beautiful overcast sky. I miss the rain.

I miss my big red hat too!

I miss my big red hat too!

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Jul 11 2013

Three Little Things

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I read an article the other day that suggested a few simple things that you can do to make yourself happier. One of them was to “count your blessings”. Literally! I’ve heard it before too that if, each day, you write down three things that are positive in your life it can improve your general outlook. So…

1. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful, supportive group of friends.

2. I love where I’m living. City centre life is great and my apartment is awesome (so too is my flatmate).

3. Well, look outside! How could you not smile with that heaving yellow ball beating its warmth down upon us. Yay!

That’s it. A short little post to bring me back to blogging. 🙂

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Feb 21 2012

Signing On, Jay And Silent Bob, Morons And Danny Elfman

Published by under Blog,Vlog

Today’s video blog in which I moan about signing on for the social welfare, rant about a moron and look forward to Jay and Silent Bob and Danny Elfman.

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Feb 20 2012

Belfast, Nerdvana, Doctor Who And Titanic

Published by under Blog,Vlog

My first day and a half visiting Phil in Belfast was awesome. I debated, I walked a lot, I was surprised, I met a Doctor, I bounced around the nerd heaven that was the Heroes and LEGENDS (not Villains, as I say in the video) exhibition in W5 at the Odyssey and I saw the Titanic’s birth place.

Here’s me with Colin Baker. Thank you so much to the wonderful Phil for bringing me along.

Darren and Colin Baker

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Feb 16 2012

Before Belfast And Some Thoughts About Being Broke

Published by under Blog,Vlog

Just a quick update before I head up to Belfast for a few days to see my boyfriend. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to update the vlog over the next couple of days but I’ll try. Anyone know of any good video editing apps for the iPhone?

I also talk about being broke and some of the things I would like to do (and will do) when I’m back working and have money again.

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Feb 14 2012

Let’s Have A Debate

Published by under Blog,Vlog

Who wants to have a debate with me? I want to talk about religion and abortion, the environment and gay marriage, aliens and euthanasia. I have opinions…honest!

Argue with me in the comments below or on Twitter @DarrenByrne.

20 responses so far

Feb 13 2012

The Voice, Raw, Selling My Apartment, The Rugby And Fantastic Mr Fox

Published by under Blog,Vlog

In today’s update, I talk about The Voice of Ireland, the heartbreaking series finale of Raw, the rugby, selling my apartment, my iphone, John Green, Fantastic Mr Fox and…tea.

Some links:

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Feb 12 2012

The Voice Of Ireland So Far

Published by under Blog,Vlog

As I get (excitedly) ready for this week’s The Voice of Ireland, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the show so far with you.

Follow Culch.ie on Twitter @Culch_ie and follow me on Twitter @DarrenByrne.

2 responses so far

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