Women of Cork: What does love mean to you?

Love is snuggling on the couch with your other half, or wrapping your baby up warm in their bath towel, it’s stuffing your face with your favourite cheesecake or travelling to destinations new — AUDREY ELLARD WALSH asked Cork women what love means to them.
Women of Cork: What does love mean to you?
What is love?
LOVE IS MY RELIGION: Gemma Sugrue
LOVE IS MY RELIGION: Gemma Sugrue

Gemma Sugrue — singer and vocal coach

“Love is my religion. I believe in it, I worship it and it brings meaning to my life so I pursue it daily. Whether it’s to look at the sky with love, to pursue my passion for singing and music with love, to talk on the phone with family or friends with love or to fall in love. Love to me means being alive in full colour, to be awake. Love has motivated my most selfless and selfish acts, it is a feeling that makes me feel human and is my greatest weakness and strength.”

Lisa Fahy — senior yoga teacher at Himalaya Yoga Valley, Cork

“I learnt about a loving marriage from my grandparents. They held hands while watching television, often kissed in front of us and sat in the car every Tuesday morning and picked a spot for a romantic trip for the day. They never fought! They had their roles in the family and never questioned each other. They thanked and praised each other all the time. She was shy and private, he was an outgoing salesman with an edgy sense of humour. She was a devout Catholic and he was an atheist. They respected each other in all their differences. She would pray for him and he would smile. They often told me they just wanted the other to be happy!

“My husband and I are very different too, he runs fast food restaurants and has never even taken a yoga class. Unlike my grandparents we definitely argue our differing opinions all the time but I learnt from them that different is OK. It has nothing to do with the intense love that we have and to want each other to be happy and independent is how to keep our love strong.

“My grandad died six weeks ago at almost 97, one of the biggest loves of my life. He died 14 years after my granny and his love for her never diminished, although his heart broke, it healed and his independence helped him to keep enjoying life and that’s what my wonderful granny would have wanted.”

Brenda Dennehy, RED FM
Brenda Dennehy, RED FM

Brenda Dennehy — radio producer, RED FM

“My parents are almost 40 years married. I’ve never once in my 32 years seen them have an argument or fight. It’s funny as I’d often ask my mom does she still fancy my dad after all these years and she would always say ‘oh ya!’ She’s in her early sixties so I always get great enjoyment when she says it. As we would say in Cork she thinks he’s a ‘fine thing’. I know he feels the same about her but he’s a typical old school Irish man who doesn’t express his feelings visually, but it’s the countless small things he does for her that makes me know he adores her just as much as she does him.

“I know one of the main reasons why I’m still single and, being honest, very happily single, is because I haven’t met any man yet who is half the man my father is. If the day comes that I meet someone that will amount to his greatness, kindness and compassion then maybe I’ll settle down. After all, they do say women marry men like their fathers. So when I see my mother and father together, that’s exactly what love means to me.”

Sile Walsh — Coaching psychologist

“To me personally, love is only truly possible when we are in a healthy space ourselves, otherwise it gets tangled up with co-dependency, people-pleasing and trying to justify our worth through ‘loving acts’.

“Love is the warmth that comes when everything feels cold, it’s a person wanting what you want for you, not what they want for you. When I am coaching singles and couples and relating comes up, it’s really clear to me that we often make love responsible for our worth and value and happiness, if only I was loved the way I wanted to be, all would be OK. However, that’s just not true, love isn’t there to subside our own self-worth, it’s there to help us enjoy it.

“I see three stages in relationships emerge in my coaching sessions, one the madly in love, the total escapism of early relationships; the second level where it either deepens to knowing a person without the tinting that the initial stage gives us or it ends and we go separate ways. Then there’s the third stage, the more realistic; less escapism and more foundational love that involves tea in the morning or holding up a bowl while the other gets sick, the one where perfection isn’t required and yet respect is fostered and through that stage relationships feed the individuals within it and the individuals feed the relationship.”

Julette Jones — Owner of Flex in the City pilates studio

“To love yourself, as clichéd as it sounds, is to radically accept yourself for who you are. One of my favourite ways to look at it is that ‘I am complete, but not finished’ and I think this is such a positive way, as women, to address our relationship with ourselves, and with our bodies.

“I think it’s OK to want to look a certain way and be the healthiest version of you but loving yourself and your body has nothing to do with having abs. We are more than abs or any single body part!

“I meet the most phenomenal women every day and their capacity for love never ceases to amaze me. They are innovators and glass ceiling shatterers and mamas and leaders. They work so hard and they love and show love — to their kids, partners, friends, crabby mother-in-laws! And what inspires me the most is the love they show themselves — they eat well (not ‘perfectly’) and move, rest and they give themselves a break. They know it’s not about being perfect or even about ‘just not hating yourself’, it’s about knowing who they are and thinking that person is someone they want to be friends with!”

Emer O Sullivan and Vivienne McCarthy Lockdown PR.
Emer O Sullivan and Vivienne McCarthy Lockdown PR.

Emer O’Sullivan — Lockdown Models and PR

“For me, love is life. Love is simply being with family and friends. I spent my 20s chasing love and happiness through material things, chasing success. After becoming a mother to Erin and Quinn in my 30s I have a completely new perspective on love. Choosing love, light and gratitude in your everyday decisions and relationships, makes for a much warmer and happier life.

“I think the world right now could do with a lot more love. And while I can’t change the world I can start with my own little patch and use loving intentions everyday. Give me time with family and friends any day over material things. That’s my loving place and pure happiness to me.”

LOVE IN SO MANY WAYS: Amy Keating
LOVE IN SO MANY WAYS: Amy Keating

Amy Keating — Blogger at My Little Mummy Blog

“Love comes into our lives in many different ways but today, and as the proud founder of My Little Mummy Blog, I am going to try and put into words the feeling of love you feel as a Mum.

The love you feel for a child is the strongest emotion I could ever have imagined. It overpowers every other feeling I have ever had for anyone or anything, ever before. It hits you deep down into your core and that for me was instant, from the moment you get that positive pregnancy test result.

“Anyone or anything else, including yourself, becomes secondary from that moment onwards. You look into your child’s eyes and you feel warmth, you feel pride and you feel fear. You also feel like you are the luckiest person in the whole universe that you are their Mummy and they are your baby, for now and always and no-one can ever take that away from you.

“In summary, the love you feel as a Mum is the greatest blessing you will ever receive.”

Bibi Baskin — former RTÉ presenter, hotelier

“The love of my life — there’s always one — a Nordic farmer, gave me a book about love when I was 19. It was a seminal work in the ’50s by Erich Fromm, The Art Of Loving. It has never let me down. In the book, Fromm describes five types of love. They are all deserving. There is brotherly love, parental love, erotic love, self-love and the love of God. Now that I am a lot older it still is good for me. Of course, in the process of maturing I hadn’t a clue but through my experience of living in India, a very spiritual country with admittedly a lot of social problems that contravene the essence of love, I came to know that love has some kind of eternal essence which frequently eludes us when we are doing our daily stuff like what vegetables are on special offer in Lidl today! But I came to know about real love through the Sufi poets, the mystical tradition of Islam, and the mystical songs of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan which I spoke about on RTÉ Radio 1 on Christmas morning 2017.

“And from all that self-enquiry and following different yatras (Sanskrit for ‘journeys’) in my pursuit of love, I have come to this conclusion: that love is pure, love sustains us when we fall down, love makes us feel warmer in the morning when we wake up. It’s worth a go!”

Cathy Walsh — dancer

“Love doesn’t have to be the elusive mystery we often treat it as, it can be an active practice. I’ve just read All About Love by Bell Hooks and I feel it should be required reading. She writes about love being a combination of Care, Commitment, Knowledge, Responsibility, Respect, and Trust. I think that’s great because then loving is something we can really practice.

“I used to classify love differently, as Family, Friend, and Romantic, but I don’t perceive much of a distinction anymore. I’ve given up feeling that saying I love someone is a huge deal, or means a different thing to a friend or a lover.

“Love is not finite, it’s the opposite, the more love you give the more you’re likely to receive. The greatest loves of my life are my friends, and I try to value them as people I will likely spend the rest of my life with. I suppose you could call that polyamory!”

Kerri Kenneally — I.E.T and massage therapist

“Love and I have not always been friends. Love, I blamed for the failings of imposters known as Loss and Betrayal.

If we accept the love we think we deserve, this version of Love was one I was unwilling to accept. This is what I now know — love starts with truly loving yourself.

Along the path to loving myself, I met good friends of Love, Hope, Courage, and Trust which helped me face my biggest fears and return safely, occasionally shaken, back to Love.

No matter how long the journey, never once did they falter. The journey to Love, embodied strength, vulnerability, faith and creativity.

Love sparks imagination and wonderful conversations. Love inspires artists to pick up a brush, a writer a pen. A mother — her child.

Love unites you with yourself. Love is magic. If you can find Hope, you will find Love.

If you find Love, you will find yourself.”

Susan Herlihy — Owner of Crafty Hands Pottery Studio, Midleton

“Let us reimagine what love can mean, not our instinctive uncomplicated love but how it varies in all its forms just as we vary in our complexities. Love for each of us is different, complicated, ordinary, romantic, crazy!

“As I sit here and write under the full moon, I feel love indeed can pass us by when we don’t honour the love within. My own love, creating a collection of ceramic art vessels, was immensely deepened when I hand-dug the clay. I dig when the conditions are suitable, I wash the clay, sieve it, remove excess water, I let the clay rest, this rather long process is what I have to do, it is what the clay needs. Its carefully considered correct firing temperature needs to bring out the beauty of the hardened clay. To see the beauty of this clay, I must spend time with it, understand it, work with it. This collection of vessels called ‘echoes of my landscape’ needs to be exactly that. It is a beautiful collaboration between myself and my environment.

“A love that I will honour and explore, bringing out the beauty in each other.”

LOVE IS SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS: Aishling O'Connor.
LOVE IS SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS: Aishling O'Connor.

Aishling O’Connor — Cork Rose 2017

“Love to me means so many different things.

“Love is spending an endless amount of quality time with my family and friends. It is exploring things and places that you never even knew existed.

“Love is being on a lifetime adventure with my boyfriend Ronan.

“It means eating my favourite foods and having a full belly. It is baking raspberry cheesecake brownies and seeing the delight in people’s faces as they enjoy.

“Love is exercising when all you really wanted to do was stay at home.

“Love means snuggling up on the couch with the fire lighting, candles on and a chick flick recorded so that you can fast forward the ads.

“It is taking long walks on the beach and stopping for a picnic with a flask of tea and sandwiches.

“Love is reflecting on the memories you have shared with others.

“Love is laughter, tears, smiles and giggles.

“I heard this verse spoken at a wedding recently and it seemed to encapsulate what love is really all about: ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.’ – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

“Remember, love may not always be happy or easy but it is simply everlasting.”

BEST TYPE OF LOVE: Aisling Kelleher
BEST TYPE OF LOVE: Aisling Kelleher

Aisling Kelleher — Bridal and Event Hair Specialist

“The day my daughter was born was the day love changed for me. Yes, I love my husband, and oddly enough I love my work as I work with weddings and they are the epitome of love, but I will never forget the day she was born. It’s a love I think I’ll never be able to describe. It’s the type of love that gives me focus and determination to achieve things I would have always doubted myself on. It’s the best type of love I could have asked for — and that of my husband of course in case he reads this. As he is the one that has to put up with my constant talks of weddings due to work-related projects and I secretly think he is afraid that one day I will arrive home after working on a wedding and tell him we are off to renew our vows!”

LOVE YOURSELF: Makeup artist, Liz Desmond.
LOVE YOURSELF: Makeup artist, Liz Desmond.

Lola Desmond — makeup artist

“V day is upon us again and it’s a day where most single people like myself just want to dive under the duvet and hide until it’s all over! A day where no doubt all I will be getting is a generic love heart emoji sent from snapchat or if I’m lucky a text message from Four Star pizza informing me of their latest meal deal.

It’s the time of year where we are subject to this sudden influx of soppy sentiments and declarations of undying love plastered across social media, not to mention the giant bouquets of flowers and balloons that will undoubtedly be walked straight past me at the office!

I imagine every singleton on the planet rolling their eyeballs and wanting to slide under their desk! It is, however, a day for those in a relationship to celebrate their love for each other and that’s never a bad thing! In fact, it can be a wonderful thing when the couple have been together for a very long time and that spark is still there. Now, for those who think this all sounds negative, stay with me! I’m not anti-Valentines Day but personally I think people should show love every day of the year, not just on February 14!

“Even when I was in past relationships, I’ve always preferred to show little acts of love and kindness throughout the whole year and not just on one day.

“When the question of love was put to me, the first thing that sprung to mind was self-love Something that took me a very long time to come by. When we are younger we find ourselves in a situation where we feel the need to compete with everyone, never feeling good enough and constantly striving for perfection, but with age comes the realisation that there is no such thing!

“When you learn to love yourself, there comes a new appreciation for everything we have in life. Learn to love the little things.

“Love your body, the skin that you’re in and take care of yourself.

“Love your family as they will always love you back, no matter what.

“Love being alive and the fact that we get to wake up every single morning with our health which is denied to so many others.

“Love your friends fiercely as they are the ones who will always have your back.

“Love your job, if you’re not doing what you love then you’re just wasting precious time.

“All the above are the things I love the most!

“So to anyone that may feel unloved today because they don’t have a partner, learn to love yourself first. At the end of the day you cannot truly love another until you love yourself.

“Imagine the possibility if we each devoted time to loving ourselves and loving the beauty all around us just a little bit more!

“Now, on another note, if anyone is secretly in love with me, speak now or forever hold your peace. I’d love a French Bulldog puppy and I’m a size 5 in Louboutin.”

DEEP LOVE: Eimear Varian Barry
DEEP LOVE: Eimear Varian Barry

Eimear Varian Barry — blogger

“To me, love is caring for someone or something else deeply and unconditionally. I don’t think I ever experienced the true feeling of love until I had my babies. When I give them a bath and hold them in my arms, wrapped up in a towel, and all I see is their little face looking up at mine, that is when my heart literally pounds with the feeling of deep love. It’s the hardest thing to describe.

“When it comes to a relationship, I have learned that love is complete respect for your other half and immediate support whenever they need it. Realistically, love in a long term relationship definitely needs to be worked on, especially when young kids are involved, but if you both have that understanding and know that you are each others companions, then it will be a great relationship. Can you tell I’m learning all of this as I go?!”

Yasmine Krid — counsellor

“I call love all that is unobstructed by ego. When we choose to be fair rather than to satisfy ourselves or arbitrary conventions, when we strive to protect ourselves as much as the others, when one’s self is not diluted into the other’s needs and demands. It is taking joy in another’s happiness, regardless of whether or not you caused it. It is being true and complete; feeling free to say ‘no’ and accepting to hear it from another. It is being honest to ourselves and to our loved ones.

Just like happiness, life and love are not perfect. They are fraught with misunderstandings, defensive reactions, old ghosts and loss. What I learned from Jung is that life does not call for perfection; just completeness and love.”

Gina London — former CNN anchor, now a director with Fuzion communications

“As I train and consult global business leaders, my focus is on improving connections through communications.

“From Washington and Atlanta to Bucharest, Cairo, Lagos, Paris, Arezzo to Cork — having lived in so many diverse and wonderful places in the world and worked with so many diverse and wonderful individuals, love, to me, means treating all people with respect and kindness. I have no tolerance for cultural or religious intolerance. Life is too short. If we can focus more on actively loving our fellow human beings, the rest will fall into place.”

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