‘Mammy-guilt is a particularly Irish thing’ — Andrea Corr opens up
22nd Nov 2019
After a lifelong career in music with her family, Andrea Corr is spreading her wings solo, and finding her voice in new memoir Barefoot Pilgrimage. She sat down with Sophie White to discuss grief, acceptance and her experience of laying down her family history.
Andrea Corr sits down with author Sophie White for the InstaStory Club with An Post, sponsor of the Irish Book Awards. Andrea has made a lifelong career of music in her family band The Corrs, and also as a solo singer, but now, has released a stream of consciousness memoir, in which she delves into the deeply personal.
Andrea is the seventh author to take part in this eight-week series, and is fresh from her win at the An Post Irish Book Awards on Wednesday, where Barefoot Pilgrimage took home the Ireland AM Popular Non-Fiction Book Award. The InstaStory Club series can be found across IMAGE social channels by following the #ReadersWanted. We want you, the reader, to get involved by submitting your burning questions to our eight leading authors. See you on Instagram @image.ie!
Barefoot Pilgrimage was inspired by the death of Andrea’s father Gerry, which, she said, brought back strong emotions that she had dealt with previously at the death of her mother years before. “Daddy dying really starkly reminded me of my own mortality, and I felt it was important to get my story, and my family’s story down on paper before I get old,” she said. “Both my father and grandfather wrote memoirs while they were alive, and I wanted to follow.”
In her story, Andrea delves intimately into the darkest times of her life — grieving over the loss of a parent, and also the loss she experienced during miscarriage. Was it cathartic to process through those times in her writing? “I definitely felt better after writing it down than I had before,” she said. “When you lose someone like that, you’re going to feel it at some point — whether you push it away for a year, or 18 years, it’s going to come out in some form. And while it was very sad feeling those feelings, there was a lot of happy memories and laughter coming through too.”
Andrea has been a working musician since the age of 15, and attributes her hard work ethic to her family. But as she grew older and became a mother, she, like so many others, deals daily with so-called “mammy guilt”. “I think it may be a particularly Irish thing”, she told Sophie. “Men are able to completely immerse themselves in their work, and we all see it as ‘oh they’re in the artistic process’, whereas when I try to do that, I have tremendous guilt about it.
“I put pressure on myself and almost negotiate with myself in order to go and work — like I’d say ‘if I’m able to keep everything perfect at home, then I’ll have the ‘freedom to work’ — which is an interesting concept in itself.”
Andrea has long proved herself as a talented songwriter, but was it very different writing long-form in a memoir like this? “It was much more luxurious than writing a song,” she smiled. “I can fall into the well of emotion with writing like this, rather than editing it down to song length. It’s liberating.”
Follow the InstaStory Club with An Post, sponsor of the Irish Book Awards, over on @image.ie every week to hear what Ireland’s leading authors have to say and see them answer your burning questions. Follow along with #ReadersWanted.
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