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Herstory: Benburb woman hosts ‘healing’ talks to benefit women’s charity

'Any woman can share her story. I don't care about her faith, her religion, her background or what she's done in her life because it should be an open space where that woman can communicate'

A feeling of camaraderie among women is never more present than on the approach to International Women’s Day and – whilst we typically celebrate the most accomplished women; past and present – Benburb’s Sarah Logan believes that “every single woman has a story to tell”.

She also believes that this needn’t be confined to a single day in a calendar year.

For the second consecutive year, Wellbeing Facilitator Sarah is encouraging women to come forward and be heard. However, this year their stories will also provide support to those who are often silenced.

‘Herstory’ – a celebration of the female voice – invites women from across the country to attend a seminar each month, with donations raised this year going to the benefit of Women’s Aid Armagh Down and Benburb Priory, where the events are held.

Sarah said of her inspiration for the event: “We all learn from each other. We have all done things and had things happen to us in our lives and I think the more we open up and share the more we heal and can help heal each other.

“I’m a feminist, complete feminist. I am happily married and love my husband but I think women are amazing. We are fantastic! And I think it’s important that we support women’s charities.”

“I started it as a local community thing to try and bring local women together, but I had a woman last year come from Donemana! So, they come from all over.

“I always start with a poem and tell the women that if they feel inspired they should start one [a Herstory group] within their own community. My vision would be to see every community with a Herstory.

“To me it’s like a tribe. It brings it back. We all live in beautiful, big houses, we are all lonely, we are all new mums trying to raise children and there are so many mental health problems and I think that’s because there is no tribe; there is no community. We have lost that neighbourhood community. So, that’s really the inspiration for it.

“Any woman can share her story. I don’t care about her faith, her religion, her background or what she’s done in her life because it should be an open space where that woman can communicate.”

A 2023 Herstory talk at Benburb Priory

Last year, Sarah made incredible friends through the event, one of whom – Fionnuala Cassidy – is described as one of Sarah’s most influential speakers.

Fionnuala, from Galbally, Co Tyrone – who was born in a mother and baby home and subsequently adopted – told her heartrending story of finding out later in life that she had a biological brother who died at Nazareth Lodge in 1972 and was buried in a mass grave.

Speaking to Armagh I, Fionnuala said: “My background involves the mother and baby homes. My older brother died in Nazareth Lodge and was buried in a mass grave.

“I spoke at Herstory last year and I feel I have a duty as well to tell my birth mother’s story because she’s not here to do that.

“I suppose Herstory is all about the strength that women have. It’s all about their life experiences and there’s just that expectation for us all to carry on regardless of what our experiences have been and I just think it’s a lovely way to show the strength that women have and it’s a good opportunity to empower others through our stories.

“I think that if you can inspire someone else to think that ‘if you can share, I can do it too’, then I think it’s amazing that Sarah has provided a space for us to do that.

“I feel that there’s a very important message about how far we have come and what we have achieved. The trials and tribulations that we have all gone through. That can be anything from an early age right up to menopause and anything that is specifically dealt with by women.

“Sarah was the first one to give me the opportunity to tell my story and it was so empowering for me to tell my story, to lay it out and talk about it. This is an opportunity to not hide from the past and lay it all bare.”

Fionnuala is making an appearance again this year at Sarah’s 11 Women : 11 Minutes event to mark International Women’s Day on March 9 at Benburb Priory.

The next Herstory talk, featuring Paula McGleenan, will take place on March 21 also at Benburb Priory.

Tickets, whilst free, are required for all Herstory seminars to account for numbers and can be booked here.

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