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04th Jun 2024

Keelin Moncrieff: ‘Irish women should use their privilege to highlight the voices of other women’

Kat O'Connor

Introducing Her’s June digital cover star… and newest podcast host. Mother, a brand new pod brought to you by Her and HerFamily launches this Thursday 6th June. Each week, Keelin and her very special guests will discuss the impact becoming a mother has on our lives, careers, sense of self and how we’re perceived by the world. Keep an eye on Her and HerFamily’s socials – we think you’re going to love it.

Keelin Moncrieff is not standing in her own way

Ireland in 2024 is a far cry from the country our mothers and grandmothers grew up in. There was once a time when Irish women had to get ‘churched’ before entering back into society after giving birth. Others gave up their jobs and couldn’t even dream of pursuing a career because a woman’s place was in the home. Those days are now a distant memory for many and Irish women are now growing up in a better, more progressive country, but that hasn’t stopped us from using our voices and standing up for what we believe in, something incredibly important for Her’s June Cover Star Keelin Moncrieff.

Ahead of Mother‘s launch, we sat down with Keelin to discuss the reality of being a mum, what it’s like to be a woman in Ireland, and why you always need to fight your own corner.

Keelin is living in a completely different Ireland to the one her mum and nanny experienced and she’s incredibly grateful for that.

“I know from listening to the experiences of my mam and my granny, who lived in Ireland for the majority of their lives, how different it was.

“The pressure and the expectation that was put on them, for example to have kids, was real. It was like a given back then, whereas for me it’s a choice.”

This isn’t a one-size-fits-all society where everyone must get married, have a child, and own their home. Women can work, they can vote, they can open a bank account, they can get divorced, change careers, and be child-free.

The lives we’re living are incredibly privileged but we need to use that empowerment to help others, as Keelin said:

“It is as progressive as it can be compared to a lot of countries in the world. We should use that privilege to highlight the voices of other women around the world who don’t have the same privileges as us.”

Keelin shares so much of her life online with an adoring following on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, but there’s power in using her platforms for the better, and that’s something the mum focuses on.

“I don’t think people realise the weight that our words have on our platforms, but you do have the power to influence people. When there’s a crisis or a war going on, you realise how much impact social media can have.”

Having such a huge following and a power online may come with many perks but Keelin admitted it can be quite daunting at times. 

“It can be stressful sometimes because I can say the wrong thing because I’m only just one person. I’m not an educator – I can make mistakes and say the wrong thing. But that’s very good for confronting my own ignorance, because people can reach out to me and tell me when something is wrong. I probably learn at a quicker progression than people who don’t post about social, cultural, or political issues online.”

“I don’t think people realise the weight that our words have on our platforms”

Keelin’s presence on social media is something that supported her through her pregnancy. The mum had the chance to speak to parenting experts she would not have met if it wasn’t for her online platform, and that was a huge comfort for her.

She explained, “It’s a lot lonelier to have kids because in my granny’s generation, it was expected of the mother to stay home, so there would be other mothers around for you to meet with, go for coffee with and talk to about the children and what’s been going on at home. My situation is obscure because I work from home and no one my age is having children. Everyone I know who’s had kids has had to go back to work pretty soon after having a child because they didn’t have the choice to stay at home.”

Keelin was lucky to have a strong community around her during the first year of her daughter’s life, but that support naturally started to fade with others returning to work and juggling parenthood at the same time.

Credit: Andrew Hart

“No one’s really available and everyone gets too busy and that’s one of the huge things that has been highlighted to me many times – people are forced to work and they’re still not reaping any benefits from it. 

“People could be working 50 hours a week in Ireland and still not be able to live and not be able to afford a home or to look after children. So there’s obviously something seriously wrong there and we can’t create a community, we can’t meet each other, we don’t have any leisure time because people are just working themselves to the bone and that’s not life.”

Focusing on developing a community, even if the odds are against us, is something incredibly important to Keelin which is why she launched her ‘Self Care Club’ to help others make friends as adults; an empowering project that sums up the social media star perfectly.

“Sometimes with social media, you can get complacent with making real connections with people because it can feel like you’re socialising but that’s not actually socialising. It is just looking at a screen, disconnecting yourself.

“The only thing I would say to my daughter is don’t get in your own way”

“My speed friending event gives people space to meet and talk to each other in a relaxed, natural environment. I created it after two of my best friends emigrated, one to Australia and one to London. But then I noticed that it was happening a lot around me. People were saying they didn’t have anyone to go out with or go for coffee with so I created these speed friending events but never thought they’d sell out. But we all want to find friends and make connections.”

Women in Ireland are still facing many hurdles but rooting for yourself is something we need to prioritise. There’s no doubt some people will see your confidence and self-love as selfish or arrogant, but let them. As Keelin Moncrieff perfectly put it, “Why would you stand in your own way?”

Credit: Andrew Hart

Speaking about the one piece of advice she will pass on to her daughter, the mum said:

“The only thing I would say to my daughter is don’t get in your own way. Why would you be your own obstacle? It is such a waste of time. I have never understood that. Sometimes fear will get the better of you or I think, I have no idea what I’m doing, but how would I know that if I’m not going to try it?

“If you accept who you are people might think you’re obsessed with yourself, but I’m not harming anyone by liking myself.”

One thing Keelin Moncrieff is ensuring she focuses on is surrounding herself with the people who love her. She says she can often be guilty of isolating herself but that can let those negative and intrusive thoughts settle in and take over. Having a strong community and her sisters in her corner has helped boost her wellbeing during her first year as a mam.

“If you isolate yourself you let your negative thoughts take charge and it’s almost validating them; you’re not worthy of love or you’re annoying or no one likes you. Whereas if you’re with the people that love you, it’s taking the power away from those negative thoughts and validating that you are worthy of love and people do want you to be around.”

However, Keelin wanted to be independent in her first year of motherhood because she was wary that some people wanted her to fail.

“I wanted to do things on my own for the first year. It’s a strength thing – I didn’t want help with my daughter or to say that I was struggling, especially because I was young and because I think people expected me to f*** up. I wanted to show that I was strong and that I knew what I was doing.”

“People might think you’re obsessed with yourself but I’m not harming anyone by liking myself”

Keelin Moncrieff adores motherhood, something that’s very clear from her socials, but she said she felt nervous about asking questions in the early days. “Now I know who I could ask for help and I know where to look for the right information, but I was actually scared, even in the hospital after I gave birth, I was scared to ask a question.”

Those insecurities were enhanced by waves of online trolls targeting Keelin, an unfortunate and mentally taxing part of having a huge following.

“The negative comments stick with you a lot harder so my own insecurities were fuelled by them, but I try to remember that they’re people too.

“They must be in so much pain to do that and you almost want to go ‘Are you okay?’, but there is a vulgar part of every single one of them. They’re so full of hatred, but they act on impulse. They’re not reasoning with themselves and asking if this is a normal thing to do.”

“It’s exactly like the school bullies. It’s like someone who is confident and is too secure in themselves makes them feel inferior so they want to drag you down. Misery loves company.”

Spending the morning with Keelin was nothing short of empowering, educating, and inspiring. She’s the type of woman that makes others strive to be better, to be more confident, and to be brave. She isn’t letting any obstacles get in her way and I think that’s something all women in Ireland should strive for.

Mother, a brand new podcast brought to you by Her and HerFamily, and hosted by Keelin Moncrieff, launches this Thursday 6th June.

Photography Andrew Hart

Makeup Cian Macken

Hair Kon Kelly for Peter Mark