SEA(M)OTHER: Easkey Britton and Kerri ní Dochartaigh in conversation

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Spread the Word

By Suzie McAneney

Part of the recent Spread the Word Literary Festival, Suzie McAneney reviews SEA(M)OTHER, an evening of readings, discussions and embodied mindfulness with Easkey Britton & Kerri ní Dochartaigh.

We poured in from the dark February evening, wading in from the water’s edge to ‘Offing’ – a quaint coffee shop located on the waterside of the City of Derry ready to attend, ‘SEA(M)OTHER’, for an evening of readings, discussions and embodied mindfulness led by renowned Irish surfer, author, artist and marine social scientist, Dr. Easkey Britton, and mother, writer and grower, Kerri ní Dochartaigh.

The room was packed with an eager audience, stripping off puffy coats and woolly hats searching for a seat. Our hosts were seated at the front and greeted us with warm smiles and kind eyes ready to begin.

I will also take the opportunity to caveat this piece of work with a trigger warning around birth, pregnancy and motherhood.

We were here to discuss the role of water, the concept of birth and explore the universal pull which we all can feel to water and share in our individual and collective experience.

I felt drawn to this event as a new mother heavily in my own post-partum period for the second time. Truly, that is the beauty about motherhood – we experience it differently through our own matrescence each time. In a similar way to our interactions with water – no two times are the same. There’s something powerful in connecting motherhood and water and I was excited to hear how Easkey and Kerri would bring this concept to life. This review will cover the core themes and I’ll explore further through the lens of my own lived experience.

It feels appropriate to start with the notion of ‘beginnings’. Kerri explored the concept of birth. However, her discussion transcended the traditional parameters of our expression of birth and motherhood. She shared her own powerful childbirth experience, whilst highlighting that birth can come in many forms, not just through child-bearing and linked this to the universal concept of mothering.

We all ‘begin’ in water, life is not possible for any of us without water. When I think back to my own childbirth experiences, there was a huge focus on water – when the waters break it is a natural sign that things are really under way.

With my son, my waters broke several times, flooding the delivery suite floor each time. The sensation was so powerful and overwhelming to my physical body, it felt like the earth was moving through us both. My midwife reminded me that every time this happened it meant he was getting closer to me.

As part of my hynobirth practice, in pregnancy I spent a lot of time at Downhill beach on the North Coast observing the waves and a tiny stretch of water which flows into the ocean. The waves ebb and flow and gather pace just when the time is right and find their own rhythm – just like contractions in childbirth.

Kerri beautifully illustrated the universality of birth and mothering – it isn’t exclusive to those who physically give birth to children. She discussed the varying forms of ‘birth’ that can happen, whether it’s starting a new job or moving to a new place. We also give birth to so many different versions of ourselves and it is important to acknowledge these births.

She applied this principle to ‘mothering’ – we can all be mothers, not just to children – whether we care for a loved one or provide mothering to a friend. There is real comfort in this message, and a message of kindness which we can all share and benefit from. If we all seek to ‘mother’ each other a little more imagine what a better place the world would be.

Easkey, in my opinion, is the closest we’ll get to a Mermaid in this life. She shared her story about growing up in Donegal surrounded by the ocean and being educated in the ways of the sea by her pioneering surfer parents. She explored the cyclical nature of water, the relationship between water bodies and other non-human communities and the power of observing patterns in the universe.

Easkey highlighted the connection between water and the moon, something which personally resonated for me. My son was born during a full moon, and there is a suggestion anecdotally that more births occur on a full moon than other times of the year (however, there is no scientific evidence to back this up). Personally, I think there is something beautiful in the idea of the illumination from the moon interacting with water and us as a species. For me, it demonstrates a link between the earthly and the ethereal.

She also asked us to consider our existence as beings with other non-human communities. How do we exist in the wider macrocosm of the universe? What can we take from the wider world, and our place in it?

We closed the evening by sharing our own experiences of interacting with water, and I would encourage you to do the same. This event caused me to reevaluate my own perceptions of birth, mothering and our relationship with water and our place in the universe. It forced me to consider the role water plays in life – from birth. How do we exist alongside water, how is it part of our everyday being and how can we
co-exist in a mutually beneficial way?

(c) Suzie McAneney

Suzie McAneney was born in a rural village just outside Armagh, and now lives in theNorth West of Ireland. An English graduate, she is the owner and founder of PR and Marketing firm, Lemonade. She is a mother to two young children.
Suzie was awarded an emerging writers residency by the Waterside Theatre and Arts Centre during their recent ‘Spread The Word’ Literary Festival in February 2024.

A huge thank you to our hosts, and the organisers from the Spread the Word Literary Festival.

You find out more about Kerri ní Dochartaigh by clicking this link and you can follow Doctor Easkey Britton on her Instagram page linked here.

About the author

Suzie McAneney was born in a rural village just outside Armagh, and now lives in theNorth West of Ireland. An English graduate, she is the owner and founder of PR and Marketing firm, Lemonade. She is a mother to two young children.
Suzie was awarded an emerging writers residency by the Waterside Theatre and Arts Centre during their recent ‘Spread The Word’ Literary Festival in February 2024.

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