Catholic guilt and terrible weather make Irish Bitches Be Crazy

Emma Comerford on her new book - 'Once I started analyzing stereotypes about Irish women it nearly wrote itself'

Emma Comerford. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

Emma Comerford. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

BEING EDUCATED by the nuns, being bowled over by the beauty of Brazilian women, pestering a teenager about social media, and the combined effects of bad weather and Roman Catholicism have all contributed to why Irish Bitches Be Crazy.

Irish Bitches Be Crazy, an examination of the Irish female psyche and experience, is the new book by Galway writer Emma Comerford, published by New Island Press, that seeks to explain why Ireland is "filled with functioning female lunatics". The inspiration for this humorous meditation came from reading Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman. "I thought someone should write something similar about Irish women," Emma tells me, "and on second thoughts that someone should be me!"

With the idea now firmly implanted, Emma began to get ideas for the book together through a mixture of research and drawing on her own experiences of being a woman in Ireland.

"Once I started analyzing stereotypes about Irish women the book nearly wrote itself," she says. "There were loads of topics to cover. I also included some how-to guides and Cosmo style quizzes which were great fun to write. I relied a lot on my memories and habitual practices and those of my friends.

"Having been educated in the Dominican Convent secondary school in Galway helped me write the chapter on nuns. Living in Brazil and being invisible during my stay there - due to the stunning good looks of the Brazilian women - inspired my musings on the nature of Irish beauty. Finally having spent the majority of my twenties having the occasional social beverage helped me write the chapter on the 'Demon Drink'.

"I did have to do some research into the 'digital natives' or 'iPhone generation' of Irish women so I asked my friend’s daughter to babysit and stayed in torturing her with questions about today’s young Irish girls. She introduced me to the world of Creeping, Tinder, Prinks (Pre-drinks ) and the importance of HD eyebrows!"

Irish Bitches Be Crazy is the kind of book which can be dipped in and out of, finding something new each time or re-reading a favourite section. Emma herself declares the Home Beauty and Alcohol Dependency/Hen Party chapters as the ones she enjoyed writing most.

"There were some horror stories about home beauty practices myself and my friends attempted during the eighties," she says. "I wrote about a number of them as if they had all happened to me on the night of my Debs. Remembering those horrific experiences cracked me up, I think both my psyche and my bikini line are still scarred to this day!

"Writing the Alcohol Dependency/Hen Party Icebreaker Checklist was really enjoyable as my friends came up with a couple of examples of dreadful drunken behaviour that are so awful they are hilarious. Also, I have always been unsure about how to behave at a funeral, what to say when I am sympathizing and exactly how much bodily contact is appropriate so in the Funeral Coat section I give advice to Irish women on funeral etiquette. I think this is one of my favourite bits in the book and when I read from it during the Cúirt literary festival I got a great response.

In conclusion then, why does Emma believe Irish Bitches Be Crazy? "It’s the combined effect of Catholic guilt, our peasant ancestry, and the terrible weather," she declares. "Also, the move away from traditional Ireland to a more global and secular society - or the journey from Peig Sayers to Miriam O’Callahan as I call it in the book - has been arduous for the Irish woman, especially women of my generation."

Emma is married with two boys, aged four and 11 and works as an IT project manager for an American company. Her father has also published a number of legal reference books and had two plays produced in the Peacock Theatre in the 1970s. Now embarking on her own literary journey, Emma's book is already proving popular.

"I recently got feedback about a 97 year old Irish woman who is loving Irish Bitches Be Crazy," says Emma. "Apparently she is laughing so much she not able to talk to her carer! Her name is Margaret Riordan and she lives in Caherlistrane."

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