Special thanks to Jenny Murphy Byrne, a friend from Wexford (shocker) who assured me that this post wasn’t offensive.
I know this is a strange topic to discuss in such detail but let’s talk about why I hate it when people say that I’m from Wexford.
For anyone outside of Ireland who may not know, Wexford is a rural county that was in my experience, shall we say, quite constricting. People often make the mistake of saying that I’m from Wexford and when I correct them by saying that I’m not, they roll their eyes. But why am I so adamant that I’m not from there?
Well, to begin, I was not born in Wexford. I was born in South Dublin and lived there until I was eight years old. I learned to walk, interact with others and cycle a bike while living in Dublin. I have countless stories about my Dublin upbringing as well as vivid memories of the house we lived in, the school I went to and the elderly dog that I used to swing out of. The fact that I was born in Dublin is just that, a fact.
It may seem trivial to the average person, but I wish to identify as being from Dublin for many reasons. I love the city and spent my teenage years fantasising about moving here. My family all pride themselves on being from Dublin, as do I. And when I lived in Wexford, Dublin people (for the most part) were the ones who accepted me.
In my teenage years in Wexford, I was bullied, harassed, shouted at, spit on and degraded in many ways for being a “diverse” person.I don’t think I’ve even began to touch on the really horrible things I had to deal with while just attending school as a teenager.
This harassment changed me in very serious ways, turning me into a very dark individual battling some very serious demons. I generally tell this story in a very positive way because it had a very positive outcome. I got the help I needed and I eventually left the area, slotting into the life that I’d dreamed of in Dublin quite comfortably. I go into more detail about all of this in my first book, so I’m not going to repeat myself here.
With all this in mind, I hope you can understand my desire not to identify from the county that basically chewed me up and spit me out the other end when it was done with me.
My current relationship with Wexford is somewhat strange. I enjoy my visits back but not really because of the area. I love my house and my family, my animals and my Mam’s dinners, my bedroom and my garden. But as far as straying from the grounds of either my Mam’s or my Dad’s house, I don’t do it very often.
Walking through my local town, I’m somewhat haunted (I can’t come up with an alternative word) by the ghosts of when I used to walk around in a haze of depression. I’ve lost touch with all of my friends from down there and although I bare them no ill will, I unfortunately don’t really have any desire to see them either.
I love the countryside. I love the beaches and the scenery. I love the woods behind my Mam’s house and the lack of noise or light pollution. But as far as country people go, I’ve never really understood or fit in with them. That’s never been a source of shame or annoyance for me, but it’s a fact that I’ve had to learn to accept.
I don’t regret the years that I lived in Wexford. I don’t wish that things had been different. I encountered some amazing experiences and people while living there and I wouldn’t change that for the world. The adversity that I faced was merely a small part of living in that county but that adversity shaped me in ways that I am so grateful for now. I learned to fight with passion, respect myself no matter what and go for exactly what I desire through every negative experience I had there.
A big part of me was shaped by Wexford, but I’m not from there.
Recently, I published my most engaged with post ever “I wear dresses now.”
To read it click here.
Watch my mental health journey below: