Did you know that in order to get birth control in 1980 in Ireland you needed a prescription? In November of that year the Health (Family Planning) Act allowed contraceptives to be sold by a registered pharmacist to customers with a valid medical prescription. Before that, condoms and all forms of contraception were was completely illegal! There are stories of women coming down from the North (where birth control was legal) and throwing condoms off trains for local people.
February 20th, 1985 was the day that contraception, in its many forms, became legal without a prescription for people over the age of 18 in Ireland. While condoms had been developed and used since the mid-1850’s in the US, religious beliefs and fears stalled the freedom of choice for consenting adults.
And it wasn’t until the year 1992 that advertisements for contraception were legally allowed to be placed in the public consciousness.
In 2015 I worked for a small landscape photographer’s gallery in Kenmare, County Kerry. There was a beautiful photo on the wall of a lake in Ardgroom on the Beara Peninsula, all full of stone and mystery. One day an Irish woman, maybe in her mid-50’s, came in and stopped and stared at that photo for awhile. She told me she’d grown up in the area and began telling stories of her childhood. There was one home in her village where all the neighbors and passer-bys would stop in at days end. They’d light the lamps and sit round the fire chatting, laughing, gossiping; basically having the craic. That home was known for being a place to gather.
Electricity came very late to this corner of the world, 1979 in fact! And when it did this tradition died out. But I still know a few people whose homes are stopping places like they used to be back in the day. I guess what surprised me here was that it took a long time for electricity to reach the majority of Irish households!
I was surprised to hear my Irish friends saying that Autumn began September 1st. And Spring March 1st, when I’d always known it to begin on later days in those months. Come to find out the Irish use meteorological dates instead of astronomical ones to define their seasons!
Spring is March 1st through May
Summer is June 1st through August
Autumn is September 1st through November
Winter is December 1st through February
2019 brought a surprise though. The magnolias were almost in full bloom by February 14th, so Spring came much earlier this year than in others.
Of course, there is nothing like coming to experience the surprising nature of Ireland for yourself. Join us this Summer or Fall on Retreat to Ireland. I’m sure Ireland won’t disappoint you. She’s full of surprises! A good next step is to sign up for our email list so you can get a great retreat discount along with stories in your inbox each week that will inspire the travel lover in you.