In Memory of Terri Blanche |

3 mins

In Memory of Terri Blanche

GCN was saddened to learn of the passing of Terri Blanche on Friday, March 24, following a short illness. Terri was a guiding light for lesbian visibility in the early days of the LGBTQ+ rights movement, often bridging the political divide between gay men and lesbians.

After she came out in 1973, she began frequenting the bar Bartley Dunne’s, where she socialised mainly with gay men. As she described in an interview with Edmund Lynch in 2013 for the LGBTI+ Oral History Project, “the women at that time were maybe a group of ten by comparison to what seemed to be… groups of hundreds of men, so, I got pally with the men.”

In 1974, she joined the newly formed Irish Gay Rights Movement (IGRM), where she volunteered with Tel-a- Friend (TAF), the first LGBTQ+ helpline in the South of Ireland. She explained, “basically, if a woman phoned, I could be there – so that there would be a woman to talk to a woman, rather than having the men, who would be very courteous and fine, but you know, to talk woman to woman.”

Along with fellow members of the IGRM, she travelled to Galway, Roscommon, Dundalk and Cork doing community outreach. She also went on to run the first women’s disco in the Phoenix Club, the IGRM headquarters on Parnell Square, before the organisation disbanded and the National Gay Federation (NGF) was founded.

When the NGF moved to 10 Fownes Street in 1979, opening the Hirschfeld Centre, Terri and Kathleen Gallagher took on the franchise to run the cafe called What’s Cooking?.

With the opening of the Hirschfeld Centre, the offices of Tel-a-Friend also moved into the building. Along with some of the other women who were involved with Liberation for Irish Lesbians (LIL), Terri helped to establish Dublin Lesbian Line, which is still in operation today.

Two close friends of Terri Blanche; Myra McGuirke and Helena Powell, spoke to GCN paying tribute to her legacy.

“I met Terri in the ‘80s. She was a masseuse living in an apartment on the South Side of Dublin. I did crystal and body workshops with her upstairs in Bewley’s on Grafton Street. She always used to wear a pair of tan leather gloves which made me think that she was a race car driver. She loved to play pool and was the only woman I knew with her own pool cue,” Myra McGuirke said.

“She met a woman from Cork and decided to move there. I became her moving driver. While renting in Cork, she found a leaflet about a house in Kanturk, where she lived for 20 years. She then moved to Wexford and lived there for five years. She bought a wooden cabin in Bettystown last year and loved it. She had just started a writing group and had said last year, if I’d told her she would have lived there, she would have said I was mad.

“She was a wonderful, powerful person and did much for the gay community. She was the first woman out in those days. May love and light surround her.”

Helena Powell shared, “Terri was a trailblazer for lesbians in Ireland in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Unfortunately, over time she was airbrushed out of the gay archives, like a lot of women in history! She was the first woman to be on the lesbian line and was openly out herself at the age of 16. She co-started the disco in Parnell Square in the ’70s alongside the men’s disco. She lived her life in her own unique way and was always open to helping others on the way.

“Her interests were many, including astrology, spirituality, crystals, and reading, she was an avid reader. Her removal was in Kanturk, one of the many places she had lived in throughout her life. Stories were told, tears were shed, and memories were relived at her removal. Her cremation was in Ringaskiddy, County Cork, a perfect setting and service that was befitting a wonderful woman who was taken from us too young at the age of 66. May she rest in peace.”

The team at GCN would like to acknowledge the incredible contribution of Terri Blanche to Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community and extend our condolences to all her family and friends.

This article appears in 377

Go to Page View
This article appears in...
Go to Page View
Welcome, dear reader, to the April/May edition of GCN, arriving at a period of flux for the LGBTQ+ community.
In Memory of Terri Blanche
GCN was saddened to learn of the passing of Terri Blanche on Friday, March 24, following a short illness.
Joining the board of the NXF has, for me, nicely completed a circle. Coming out in the late ‘90s, I moved to Dublin to work for GCN, a great experience where I found my community.
Homeworks is a new collaborative project between the National LGBT Federation (NXF) and Common Knowledge aimed at bringing climate action solutions into the homes of communities in Ireland, led by LGBTQ+ people.
Inside SLM
Ireland’s first Sexual Liberation Movement started as an undercover meeting between ten Trinity College students in the final months of 1973. Ethan Moser interviews the people behind the SLM.
Muito brasileiros sonham em emigrar, porém, essa é uma jornada repleta de altos e baixos. Letícia Barbosa expõe suas reflexões em relação ao ato de sair do Brasil e a importância da comunidade brasileira na Irlanda.
The LGBT Ireland National Helpline launched in November 2010, bringing together volunteers from around the country to create a streamlined service for Ireland’s queer community by Ireland’s queer community. Brian Dillon gets an update on why the service is just as important as ever.
Wild Flowers
Unshrinking Violets: 50 Years of Lesbian Activism is a series of events celebrating the remarkable achievements of lesbian, bisexual, femaleidentifying and non-binary people working towards improving LGBTQ+ rights across Ireland since the formation of the Sexual Liberation Movement (SLM) up to today.
Theatre has been associated with queerness for centuries, from traditions of onstage gender play to the many legions of queer theatre creatives and fans. They don’t call us “drama queens” for nothing.
“Ever since I can remember, I have been into arts and dancing. Dancing connects to my inner self.” So explained Sushant Suresh Singh to Pradeep Mahadeshwar.
Şpȇåķiñĝ mỳ Łaňgüàgē
Coded language, the hanky code, ways of dressing, the words we use - for centuries queer people have found subtle ways of sharing their identities with others without catching the attention of an unaccepting society.
This past March, Ireland’s national LGBTQ+ youth organisation Belong To launched the ‘It’s Our Social Media’ campaign. The initiative sought to underscore the online abuse experienced by queer youth and the onus of social media platforms to abate hateful content.
If you have a punk, goth or alternative friend, it's almost guaranteed they have heard of Dublin’s only queer punk rock and roll nightclub, Dance to the Underground.
Amidst the hideous human rights abuses carried out against the Ukrainian people, the LGBTQ+ community are additionally being subjected to further horrors by the invaders.
A Matter of Accountability
Irish reporting on trans issues has failed us. The media has a responsibility to be accurate and fair in their reporting, especially when it comes to sensitive issues.
Off the Main Drag
Despite its ubiquitous presence for hundreds of years, as Joe Drennan explains, many views on who can take part in the art of drag aren’t terribly modern.
The Jig is Up
Every Tuesday evening, this LGBTQ+ Irish dance class fills with people wearing trainers and comfortable gender-affirming dance attire.
Listings, organisations, supports
The feeling is Virtual
For LGTBQ+ people, finding support, friendship, understanding or solidarity can be difficult when our local communities may not match our identities or beliefs. It is no surprise to find that virtual connections have fulfilled those needs for many.
What does the global pushback against LGBTQ+ inclusive education actually mean for LGBTQ+ young people? 
Looking for back issues?
Browse the Archive >

Previous Article Next Article
Page 5