It’s easy to feel a bit like a victim when you see your friends celebrating a special occasion, and the only person to blame is the one who got a bad haircut.
You’re so grateful to have a haircut, but you know that a lot of people in your family have bad haircuts.
And when your sister says that you have a great haircut, it’s hard to keep your head down.
It’s not until you’ve had the time to ponder what it’s like to be a victim that you realise just how bad it is.
That is the message that author Anna Proulx delivers in her new book, The Irish Church: A Story of Resilience, Hope and Redemption.
The book has been a long time coming for the Irish novelist and critic, who grew up in Co Galway, the seat of the nation’s first Presbyterian church.
The Irish Catholic Church is not a perfect institution, ProuLx writes, but it has always been the one place where she feels she can find the strength to survive in a hostile world.
“I always believed that there is a way out of being a target of hatred,” she says.
“And it took me a while to realise that.
I’ve been thinking about it now for more than 30 years, but I was always so afraid to say anything, and I’ve always had a fear of speaking out.”
Prouliks family was one of the first in her family to convert to Catholicism, when she was seven years old.
She was baptised in her mother’s church, St Joseph’s, and soon began studying theology.
After leaving college, she studied for her PhD in sociology at Trinity College Dublin, and then the University of Dublin.
Proullis parents moved to the UK, and her father was a minister in the church.
“When I got married I thought, ‘This is it.
This is where I’m going to go and start a family’.
But it was a terrible time for me.
I was very isolated.”
Prowling through her childhood, she came across books and films about Irish women in the early 1800s, which gave her an insight into the culture and politics of the day.
It was also during this time that she met the novelist and poet Mary Sheehan.
She recalls being “blown away” by Sheehn’s “soul-stealing” poetry, which she described as “a way of making people realise that there’s no other way”.
Proulin was drawn to the Irish literary scene because she found Sheehtan’s work so fascinating, and that she was inspired to write her own story.
“Mary was the first woman who really did this really beautiful, emotional, emotional book about how she was treated in a Catholic church,” she recalls.
“It’s a book about the Catholic Church, and it’s also a story of the American Civil War.
I thought it was really exciting.”
Poullins journey to Ireland began in 1976, when Sheehans husband, the late William Sheegan, died in New York.
“My first thought was, ‘I’m going back’,” Proulis recalls.
After years of struggling with alcoholism and depression, Poulin found herself in the care of a priest, who had helped her get a job in the hospital.
It wasn’t until a year later, when Prouils husband died, that she returned to Ireland to find out more about her mother, Mary Sheehans husband.
“She was a wonderful, wonderful woman,” Proulycys son, Patrick, recalls of his mother.
“The whole idea of coming back to Ireland, that we were not here for the money, was just too much for her.”
Poulises father, Patrick Gillett, is a professor of religion at Trinity.
He remembers his mother being “a brilliant, wonderful person” who worked tirelessly for Irish Catholics in the 1930s and 1940s, and who was a pioneer in the fight for women’s rights.
“Her commitment to justice and equality for women and people of colour was absolutely remarkable, and she was a very vocal person for that,” he says.
But Proulliys life wasn’t easy.
She grew up without a mother, and struggled with the idea of leaving her family, which was based in Dublin.
“There was a period where I was terrified I was going to lose my family, that I was not going to be able to go back to my home,” she remembers.
She eventually found work in a Dublin radio station as a producer and host.
“That was the period when I really got to know my family.
They were very kind and welcoming,” she said.
Poulliys father is one of three Irish Catholic children, and his mother was an ordained priest.
“We didn’t have a lot in common, but she had this amazing voice, and so when we met she