Ní fhágfar faoin tíorán ná faoin tráill

GANDALF: Theoden king stands alone.
Eomer: Not alone. ROHIRRIM!

Watching #hometovote on Thursday night and Friday, that was how I felt.

On Friday, 22 May 2015, the Irish nation voted overwhelmingly to give equal protection to all persons choosing to marry without distinction as to their sex. It – we – voted to affirm the equality of GLBT citizens in the eyes of the constitution.

Today we watched the returns come in. Today we saw history made. Today, in the crowds in the courtyard of Dublin Castle, cheering when every constituency went green for YES (and booing for Roscommon-South Leitrim, shame on you, you let the side down a bit there), today we began a new history.

I have now heard a crowd break spontaneously into the national anthem.

This is not a thing I ever expected to hear.

But when David Norris spoke a few words to the crowd in that courtyard – a rowdy, cheerful crowd that nonetheless went silent to hear him speak – ending on a note of liberté, egalité, fraternité, everyone. Just. Started.

Buíon dár slua
thar toinn do ráinig chughainn,
Faoi mhóid bheith saor
Seantír ár sinsear feasta,
Ní fhágfar faoin tíorán ná faoin tráill.

I have never in my life seen anything like it. There was a crush just to get in to the courtyard where the screen was bringing up the constituencies as they turned green for Yes. And every time another one went green the roar. Laughing. Crying. Hugging people met randomly. And when Leo Varadkar appeared, a Fine Gael government minister who only came out this year and turned into the most unlikely gay icon of our time… the whole crowd started chanting, “LEO, LEO, LEO.”

One of the highest turnouts for a referendum ever in this country. A landslide in the Dublin constituencies. A two-thirds majority across the country.

Everyone who canvassed. Everyone who came out on national TV, in the newspapers, on doorsteps all over the country, whose courage and compassion and generosity are an example to us all – thank you. Everyone who came #hometovote, that army pouring over the hill – thank you. THANK YOU.

It took me until this year to realise and admit to myself properly that I was bisexual – queer, primarily attracted to women, whatever words are the words that shape the place where a person fits. It took me so long because I was slow to realise it was even possible, much less normal. Much less safe. (My subconscious has some really odd narratives about sex and desire – and I blame being a bastard in nineties Ireland in part for that.)

And now. Now my heart hurts with gladness because this whole bloody country just turned around and said Ah GO ON. Turned out in droves to say Let grá be the law.

It’s in the constitution now, bigots. NO TAKEBACKS.

No, it’s not the end of the road. No, it’s not a panacea. It will not solve quiet social prejudice, or erase Irish homo- and transphobia overnight, or address any number of other problems. But today, Ireland?

TODAY WE ARE LEGENDS WHO MADE HISTORY.

(And I was there to see it.)

What a day. O what a LOVELY day.

5 thoughts on “Ní fhágfar faoin tíorán ná faoin tráill

  1. Yay! I was out of touch most of the day, but when we finally got in the car with the radio on, about the same time you posted this, the only news I wanted to hear was the result of your vote. There was spontaneous cheering! (Unfortunately, we did NOT sing your national anthem…)

  2. I am so very happy for Ireland. I married my partner in 2004, a year after it became legal in my province (the whole of Canada followed in 2005). As a feminist and later a lesbian I’d always seen marriage as a patriarchal institution that had entrenched power differentials and was not relevant to me, so it was not something I cared about much… but then it was suddenly legal for me to get married. And then I realized how utterly important it was, emotionally, to be ABLE to do so.

    So we got married surrounded by friends, gay, straight, whatever, and the marriage commissioner was so happy because we were the first gay couple she had married. We COULD, and it was incredible.

    Good on y’all, it brought a tear to my eye.

  3. It matters.

    I didn’t realise how much the referendum mattered to me until the night before. And oh, to see history done by the vote of the people. There’s a thing I won’t ever forget.

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