We sat down with author and comedian Tara Flynn to discuss her book, Rage In, her new podcast, Taranoia, and her relationship with Ireland following the repeal of the eighth amendment.
Tara Flynn is everything you would hope she would be; warm, friendly, well spoken and eager to chat. When we sat down last week to discuss her new podcast Taranoia, no topic seemed to be off the table. Could we speak about her departure from Twitter? Absolutely. Her campaigning during the 8th referendum? No problem. How about her relationship with Ireland? Oh yes, we'll get into that.
Saying goodbye to Twitter
While some may recognise Tara from her viral video Racist B&B (see above) - others are familiar with her as one of the faces of the 'Repeal' campaign that took place during the referendum on the Eighth Amendment - an article that recognised 'the equal right to life of the pregnant woman and the unborn'.
The role itself came about quite unexpectedly for Tara who, despite being passionate about the campaign, had only planned to share her story of travelling for an abortion in her show Not A Funny Word, not through a megaphone at marches.
"That became one of the only things people wanted to ask me about and then, because I was doing so many talks about it and being asked about it so much, it became all that I was doing - so a lot of that was accidental but it happened, and sometimes when you're up, you're up," she explained.
"I fell back in love with Ireland, partly because of the activism I'm seeing. People were standing up for whatever it is that was important to them..."
"You've got a story to share, you've lived something, you have to share that experience no matter how scary it is to share it. But then you become that issue. You're an issue, you're not a person anymore."
Soon after her name became publicly attached to the 'Yes' campaign, Tara began to receive vitriolic comments on social media which grew to such unmanageable levels that she eventually closed her account.
"The abuse has kind of become the story. It's one of the reasons I left Twitter because - for my own mental health - it's not my job to deflect this abuse constantly, that's not my job, that's not my life.
"The most powerful thing I could do for myself was to make myself absent from there but, that said, that's not the actual story. There was a lot of love coming through those channels too."
She continued: "The truth is, I believe that Ireland is a deeply compassionate country and is now willing to get active. I mean, the people are setting the agenda now, not politicians."
Falling back in love with Ireland
In fact, it was this level of compassion, love and activism that made Tara fall back in love with her birthplace. In her book, Rage In, the writer describes how she began to long for her home despite finding both love (she met her husband Carl) and career opportunities in London.
"Ireland is a bit more exciting at the moment in terms of active change, fighting inequality. We're a long way off - a long, long, way off - but at the moment, we're willing to battle."
The performer's love for her country is heartwarming if not a little surprising; not only did she receive abuse on social media during her campaigning but both she and Carl, who is African American, have received a slew of racist and bigoted remarks in the past. Despite this, the Corkonian is determined to focus on the positive.
"I fell back in love with Ireland, partly because of the activism I'm seeing. People were standing up for whatever it is that was important to them, be it; Irish Water, Health Care, Repeal, Stand for Truth - which Colm O'Gorman did - and now Take Back the City".
Since her departure from Twitter and Facebook (she remains on Instagram for the cat videos), the stand-up has started a podcast called Taranoia where she discusses everything from the fact that she has no sense of smell to her experience as a child-free woman of a certain age.
"I used to love Twitter for the writing aspect of it, I used to make little jokes within the character limit. The podcast now takes up that space, but in a way where you don't lose tone so you can be much clearer and you can have a bit more craic because you can expand on stuff."
While the podcast often reflects on her time campaigning and the backlash she faced, the author insists that she is not trying to change people's opinions of her - she simply wants to get back to business.
"It's funny, you can't control people's perceptions, you have to sort of surrender to that," she says.
She continued: "Those people won't listen to the podcast, so I don't think its any real 'setting straight', it's good for me to vent, and I'm very glad that people coming to me new will see who I am".
At the moment, Tara is recording her weekly podcast in the HeadStuff studios and promoting her book Rage In - a collection of columns that range from social commentary to "a bit of madness". Other than that, she would like some more jobs now, please and thanks.
"I want to write lots and lots of other things. I'm still recalibrating post-referendum and all that campaigning so [I'm] finding my own feet, just on a day to day level, but I'm back into the swing now. I'm making myself work every day even if I delete it, I'm getting those muscles back so I can create again."
Rage-In: The Trolls and Tribulations of Modern Life is on sale now. Taranoia is available on-demand from wherever you get your podcasts.