For the Love of Mary

For the Love of Mary

Supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland SIAP Award scheme a new collection ‘For The Love of Mary’ focusing on Marian Iconography and its relationship to the position of women in Ireland.

Project Details

Supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland SIAP Award, to research the tradition of religious grottos and Marian iconography as a prominent feature in Irish culture. With a particular focus on rural areas, the project aimed to explore how these shrines have been an integral part of female culture in this part of the world.  With reflection on the referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment, that passed in the Republic of Ireland on May 25th 2018 and its impact on the position of women current and retrospective. Exploring the stories of the women who sat with those statues of Mary in times of crisis and the secrets they shared?  Using the symbolism and diversity of Marian art and its influence on the societal image of women in her prescribed ideals of courage, endurance, hope, faith and confidante to explore the rich and often repressed stories around unwanted pregnancy, crisis and sexuality.  I would like the time to research and establish connections, to gather stories of women from varying age ranges in the form of interviews, with the view to write a new collection of poetry based around these experiences.

Huge thanks to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for their support on this project.


The conversations were all recorded and made into a series of podcasts. If you want to hear the stories of these incredible women, click on the link here.


What began as a humorous observation on the number of grotto shrines found in strange places across Ireland, morphed into very serious project that questioned their relationship to the position of women in Ireland.

Having actively documented the stories of women told in their domestic settings, often around the kitchen table. Supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, For The Love of Mary captures the hidden histories of women that would otherwise be lost to time. Viewed through the lens of a displaced woman from a Protestant/Unionist background who has spent most of her life living in Nationalist (Catholic) areas in the North of Ireland, For The Love of Mary maps a personal fascination with the Virgin Mary and her lost humanity, rediscovered in the stories shared by women living in Ireland.

The research took the form of documenting grotto shrines, meeting with women, having conversations that were recorded. These have become a series of podcasts available for download. The threads that emerged from these conversations and stories were used as inspiration for storytelling through poetry and spoken word, to create a new collection that culminated in a multi-media exhibition at Eden Place Arts Centre.

Beyond this, For The Love of Mary has been scripted to form a one-woman show. The first 15 minutes has been previewed at the Accidental Theatre Scratch Night and is under development for performance.