Cliona Hagan joins Ireland's top female artists in Women's Aid fundraiser
"For many of us home is a place of safety."
A new series is hoping to shine a light on the increased number of domestic violence incidents occurring in Ireland amid the Covid-19 pandemic, while also showcasing some of Ireland's best known female artists.
TG4's new series, Meitheal na mBan, will feature the talent of some of Ireland's top female artists as they play a series of intimate socially distant gigs from their homes.
Mary Black, Sharon Shannon, Mairead Ní Mhaonaigh and Wyvern Lingo are among those lending their voices to the four-week long fundraiser, in a bid to raise vital funds for the domestic abuse charity.
Joining them is country music singer Cliona Hagan. The Tyrone based artist has been hosting weekly virtual gigs over on her own Instagram and Facebook accounts since lockdown began, but soon she will be lending her talents to support the necessary work of Women's Aid.
“They approached me and straight away I said yes," Cliona tells Her. "It’s so unfortunate that they’ve had an increase in calls during lockdown, but [domestic violence] is always there in the background.
"It’s so prevalent today so I wanted to do anything I could to help out.”
Lockdown and other related restrictions have increased the number of people reporting incidents of domestic violence in Ireland. An Garda Síochána have seen a 25 percent increase in call outs and Women’s Aid have experienced a 60 percent increase in calls to their freephone helpline.
The charity is hopeful that the fundraiser will shed light on the abuse that countless women are still experiencing during the pandemic; one of the crucial aspects of life that did not halt with the arrival of Covid-19.
“For many of us home is a place of safety," says Women's Aid CEO Sarah Benson. "For thousands of women and children across Ireland, home has become a place of violence and fear.
"There is a ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances which is leading to a major increase in the number and the severity of incidents of domestic abuse. Women’s Aid are doing all we can to support women experiencing domestic abuse, at this time of increased need."
As part of the series, Cliona will perform a selection of songs alongside other well-known female musicians from across the country.
Country music, she says, has always felt quit homey and honest to her - the more reason why her talents serve the series so well.
“I’m actually classically trained and so I was always put into that genre," she says. "But we grew up listening to American country music like the Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain.
"When I was in primary school we had a little talent showcase and I really wanted to sing ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ so that ended up being the first song I ever sang on stage.
"Country music is very dear to my heart. There’s a song for every emotion and every song is a story. I’ve always found it to be a very beautiful and honest genre."
Meitheal na mBan kicks off tomorrow evening (Wednesday, May 20). Women's Aid's Sarah says that the charity will only need more support leading into the summer months as lockdown restrictions are eventually eased.
"In the days and months ahead we need even more support to keep our vital services going," she says.
"And we are delighted to partner with TG4 to bring Meitheal na mBan to screen and to all the incredible artists for so generously donating their time and talents."
Meitheal na mBan will air on TG4's YouTube page on Wednesday, May 20 at 9.30pm and will run for four weeks.
Donations can be made online here or you can text the word ACTION to 50300 to donate €4.
You can check out a clip here: