I call it ‘couchsurfing’, but really I’m homeless

In the Irish Times Weekend Magazine August 6, 2016  Facing homelessness for the second time, Jillian Godsil explores how this social issue has become a middle-class problem             I’m trying to think of a word to sum up how I feel. I think there must be one out there but I can’t put my finger on it. I know what it feels like, a funny ache that lives mostly in the pit of my belly but sometimes it crawls up to lodge in the back of my throat. I am homeless, for the second time in my adult life, and – though each person’s situation is unique and many are worse than mine – I am part of the great sickening statistic that haunts this land. The first time I became homeless, the banks repossessed my fine home and sold it for a pittance. There were so many wrongs I hardly know where to start. But I was stoic then. Gracious almost. Leavetaking suited me, liberated me or so I told myself. I embraced the continental way of living. Let us rent instead. I threw the words out carelessly as if they cost me nothing. […]

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Homes for the Dead – 1916 – Holden Stodart

Art houses invoke the forgotten civilian victims of the Easter Rising Public contribute installations to remember each of the 262 civilians killed in the Rising First published in the Irish Times April 10,2016  And also in a wonderful short video by Ronan McGreevy at the exhibition. Watch it here or below.                 A unique free exhibition celebrating 1916 is open in the National Botanical Gardens from this week until April 24th. The exhibition, called the 1916Sackville Street project, was developed to celebrate the largely forgotten and ignored civilian deaths in 1916. Until this year, little was known about the civilian dead – indeed few people realised that the number of civilian dead exceeded that of the total military casualties on both sides. In all, 262 innocent men, women and children were slaughtered on the streets of the capital during the first week of fighting. The 1916Sackville Street Art Project invited students, individuals and organisations to build art homes for the dead – to provide a final resting place. Indeed since many of the civilian dead were amongst the very poorest of the city some bodies were never claimed and to this day they lie in […]

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On being an Intersex

In February I was invited to speak at my alma mater in a competition debate.  This was a bolt from the blue. Thirty years ago I was an undergraduate in Trinity College Dublin. I read History and English, joint honours, and majored in the former. I joined various societies and clubs, but the one that possessed me the most was the College Historical Society, or the oldest college debating society in the world. I joined the HIST as it is called and sat through many nights of debates, where the cut and thrust of speakers was thrilling. Parliamentary procedure was followed, with rules and bells and points of information from the floor. Imagine my subsequent disappointment when I first watched televised debates in the real parliamentary chamber in Dail Eireann – the speeches were nothing like the wonderful robust displays I remembered from my college days.  Politicians can disappoint is so many ways. I became a committee member and from there an officer. I debated a little but preferred to witness rather than contribute directly, so I was very surprised to be invited back to speak in a competition last week. It was the occasion of the honorary members’ debate. […]

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Focal’s Open Mic Night

Listen here to a pre recorded version (without tears) Presentation Arts Centre in Enniscorthy is the most perfect building. An old convent, the conversion to secular building retains the stained glass windows and ornate carved wooden beams arching overhead. When one walks into the hall it is breath-taking, literally, in its beauty. And, as with all ecclesiastical architecture, the acoustics are impeccable. This was the venue for the ‘Open Mic’ run by the Wexford Focal Literary Group and I had been very kindly invited to read. It was my first public reading (unless one counts a reading at EroticaUK of a slightly different nature) and I was relaxed as a newbie on their opening night which is not very much at all. Still a glass of red wine and a lovely welcome from guests already assembled soon calmed those incipient nerves. I had another practical reason to feel nervous. My youngest child had just begun college in Dublin and had, it seemed, emptied her bedroom lock stock and barrel to her digs in Dublin. The tidy bed at home did not look lived in, at least not the way it was normally strewn with clothes, books and electronic devices. She […]

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Want to feel invisible? Try hunting for a job at 50

          First printed in the Irish Independent, May 5, 2015 and featured on The John Murray Show on May 8, 2015 – invisible at 50 podcast. Oops, it happened again. There I was, casually sauntering along through life, sending off job applications and foolishly expecting a reply but nothing happens. Not so much as a ‘Thank you’. How had it come to this? When had I morphed from experienced professional to an unwanted ‘has-been’? Had it happened overnight? Well, it certainly feels as though I have become an overnight failure. Yesterday, my years on this earth promised experienced, talented, sought-after skills. Today, it appears those same years have somehow put me into a new, unemployable category. I can’t even boast grey hair talent as I am not that old. Instead, I exist in a dark limbo-land of invisibility. Welcome to the new 50. We are suckered into believing that 50 is the new 40; that because we still fit into our skinny jeans, still hang out in trendy cafés, still listen to cool music, that we are part of thriving culture, but when it comes to applying for jobs, that date of birth is the kiss […]

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Please Sir, can I have some less?

On February 17, 2014 I became the first female bankrupt under the new Insolvency laws in Ireland. I didn’t arrive at this point lightly. It had been a very torturous six years leading up to my finally appearing in the High Court and standing up briefly while I was adjudicated bankrupt by the judge. Along the way I had lost my husband to divorce, my home to repossession and my business to bailiffs. I had accumulated debt in the same way an elderly lady accumulates cats. At first there was only one or two to feed, and then before I knew it, I had a house full of the meowing buggers. No one was more puzzled than I about the straitened circumstances in which I found myself. And no one is more puzzled than I about my inability to extract myself from the same mess. I have been playing a waiting game, with a timetable set by the government and at a cost that goes beyond my €200 per week job seekers allowance.   I should like to first say now that which I wanted to say to the Judge. I didn’t ask to be bankrupt. I hadn’t been reckless. […]

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TEdxTheHighSchoolDublin – April 18, 2015

TEDx is coming to a Dublin secondary school for the very first time. The High School, in Dublin 6, has secured the prestigious licence from the global innovation platform, and will run the first secondary school TEDx conference on Saturday April 18th, from 12-4pm. The conference is being organised by two teachers, Eoghan Keegan and Sarah Garnett, and seven pupils. The organising team comprises of fourth and fifth year students Alannah O’Reilly, Kate Hunter-Hanley, Jason Cosgrove, Aela O’Flynn, Grainne Dowling, Abigail Nolan and Ellen Galvin.  The media team, responsible for recording the event on the day, is made up three other fifth year students – Kirsty Leith, Conor Ryan and Ethan Jones.   The external speakers are: Mary Aiken, Director of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre Colm O’Gorman, founder of One in Four, former senator, and current executive director of Amnesty International in Ireland Arthur Godsil, Educationalist and former Headmaster of St Andrews College, Blackrock Dr Gary McDarby, CTO of Fifth Province Ventures and Co-founder of Camara Jillian Godsil, past pupil of the school and former European Parliament candidate Jane-Anne McKenna, Director of Médecins Sans Frontières, Ireland Niall Harbison, founder of ‘Lovin’ Dublin’. Mark Griffin, junior doctor, writer and director. […]

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NEW YEAR NEW ME

I am currently studying a masters in screenwriting in IADT which has some savage deadlines including completing the first draft of our screenplay in less than ten days. Coupled with a rather arduous essay on Aristotle’s Poetics, I have been a bit remiss on my blog (but I am threatening to post my essay once I get it back from the examiners – just to prove how HARD it was to address that subject!) So apologies for the lack of content and I shall be writing here again very, very soon. In the interim, I am delighted to say I am one of the contributors for Barnardos’ Charitable and Artistic Series of Presentations called UnderMyBed.ie which will run from March 12 to March 14 and I hope you all put these dates in your diary. If last year’s event was anything to go by it should be a wonderful celebration. Here is a video from last year made by Hello Deer Films. CLICK HERE to view Talk to you soon Jillian 🙂    

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Make Good Law the First Time Around  

There are some things that improve with practice and revision; dance routines, manuscripts, driving, piano playing among others but not law. Law when enacted should be the very best it can be. ‘A suck it and see’ approach is not advisable. A ‘let’s start here and see where we end up’ is not advisable. A ‘this is getting better’ is not a good start or rather it is a good start but not good enough to be put into law. We need law to be as precise and as finished as possible. We know this for it takes a long time to bring in new law. We know this for law has a direct impact on the population. Law is very powerful. It regulates how we live, punishes wrong doers and can dramatically impact the lives of citizens. It needs to be good law the first time around. The very best law we can create because the possible negative impact of bad law has huge ramifications from unfair or unjust rule right the way through to unwieldy and costly law suits for wrongful justice. Last year as I waited for the new insolvency laws to come into practice I was […]

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