To reflect the occasion, we have devised a whole season of birthday touchpoints, each designed to consider what 20 years of female Irish achievement means, and what the next 20 years could hold.
To begin the #ThisIs20 series, here Ireland’s 20-year-olds talk about what life is like for them in the ever-changing, ever-challenging world we live in today.
Life as a 20-year-old for me is kind of hard because I don’t feel like my needs are being listened to. I shouldn’t have to fight for what I need. I’m doing my best, the education system should too.
I find that people my age don’t appreciate the little things. So many 20-year-olds aren’t grateful for what they can do. Most of my peers can talk and walk without any hassle yet I struggle to be understood. In five years time, I want to be in my own house, with my own job and in my own relationship. I hope at that stage we’re all more open to the idea of hanging around with someone who is differently-abled. I hope people come to realise that we’re more multifaceted than that.
Being 20 in Ireland is definitely very fun. I love being young here and am dreading getting any older as I feel like that’s when real adult responsibilities kick in. I think this country is undoubtedly changing for the better, making it a good place to grow up in, but there is a lack of opportunities for young people – whether it's the inability to access healthcare or educational services.
I think this has a knock-on effect on my generation's mental health. Combined with poor mental health funding and resources, this has led to a perception that if you reach out and ask for help you become weak, which is just not the case.
It probably sounds like a cliché, but I hope the future holds more inclusion in society here. The fight for equality and social justice is not an easy one and technically is never-ending but I hope to see a lot more of it in time.
I think being 20 in any country is difficult at times. I think a lot of us struggle with how expensive the cost of living is in Ireland, especially when you’re in college.
In the future, I would love to see the end of Direct Provision. I think it’s a disgrace that we still have it. I also hope that people will become more accepting of people of all sexual orientations, ethnicities and races. I think our generation will be the one to make positive changes going forward.
Hugh Mulligan (Malaki)
I think the issue that faces my generation the most is not talking enough. We are a country based on old traditions, but we’re really getting somewhere in terms of separating Church and State. The referenda results are still so new but massive when you think that only 20 years ago if you said the word sex on television you’d be slated. It’s incredible, I’m really proud of that, but mental health is something that is still so stigmatised.
Being 20 in Ireland right now is a mix. There are good days and bad days. Sometimes it feels like you’re not being taken seriously. Although, I find Dublin a great place to be a young person as the community is strong and we do look after each other. No matter who you meet, you’re welcomed with open arms, or open elbows at the minute.
This piece is an excerpt from Irish Tatler's October 2020 issue. To read the article in full, you can find the magazine on shelves now.