Cailíní Secret: No One Is Alone In What They Feel


First thing’s first: that word, cailíní, is an Irish one and it means women (or girls – I mainly remember it from Gaelic classes at my female-only school when the teacher was telling us to shut the f**k up and listen).

So Cailíní Secret refers to the secrets of Irish women, as sourced and compiled by fellow Irish women in the colourful London borough of Camden in a drive to get this particular demographic connecting, sharing, seeing that sometimes getting on with things without making a fuss might not be the greatest thing for the ol’ mind, body, soul.

The Irishness of ‘getting on with things without making a fuss’ just made me think of Mrs Doyle in Father Ted, remember that jittery ball of neuroses? No fuss, Father, GOD FORBID ANYONE MAKES A FUSS.

Kicked off and funded by Camden Clinical Commissioning Group, whose medical bods had clocked that many Irish women living in the UK capital don’t seek help until they reach crisis point, the project involved 2,000 blank postcards being sent to cailíní across London so they could anonymously submit their secrets, prompting confessions from some that had been hidden for more than 30 or 40 years (fair play, Camden CCG, fair play).

Takes balls for womans to admit this stuff

A total of 76 secrets have been compiled into a dainty wee book entitled Cailíní Secret: No One Is Alone In What They Feel. As explained by Camden Hub staff (the Hub is Camden’s mental health wellbeing centre, which co-created and delivered the art book):

Often that which we conceal, afraid it may be ugly or abnormal, is the very thing we share in common

The regrets/betrayals/desires/confessions/humiliations that bind us

The book was inspired by the artist Frank Warren: in 2005 his group art project PostSecret saw thousands of complete strangers post him their deepest secrets for display in a book and art exhibition in the United States.




Pick up a copy of the book – pick up several, they’re free! – at the lovely London Irish Centre in Camden. If you didn’t already know, it’s just a few doors down from where the late, great Amy Winehouse lived (and died), so you can make a whole tourist trip of it if you fancy.

Camden’s finest: Sleep well, young cailín

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