Running Amach: The social club for LGBTQ+ women still going strong after a decade

Past and present members share the incredible impact the club has had on their lives, and welcome new additions.

A group of laughing women socialising in a bar

Running Amach is the largest on and offline community for LGBTQ+ women* in Ireland, a social club that has been going for over 10 years now. It was started by Maureen Looney on Meetup.com in 2010 and very quickly became the go to app for the lesbian+ community in Dublin.

The community is run by women for women, to encourage and support women coming out and to provide networking and social opportunities. Recently Maureen has stepped aside and the administration has passed to Karen O’Reardon (Kai), Joanne Carrig and Aoife Finglass. 

We use the Meetup.com platform to allow members to host events and collectively host 500+ events every year. The range of activities cover book clubs to hiking; swimming to attending arts performances; nights out dining and, nowadays, nights in co-watching movies and shows over the internet due to social distancing.

A regular feature is the daily drop in coffee shop at 12pm, hosted on Zoom, this is run every day of the week and all members are welcome to join in. The list of what we do is not exhaustive and so we cater for a wide range of interests.

A number of members have shared their experience with Running Amach relating to their time with the group and how we have all fared together during lockdown:

“I joined Running Amach in March 2010 but didn’t attend a meetup until that New Year’s Eve. While it had taken me ten months to get around to my first meetup, I certainly made up for lost time, I was soon going to three, four, five meetups a week. Cinema, meals, museums, the pub, whatever I could get to, I was there, it was all so new and exciting.

“I became an event host in 2011 and have organised many social events, weekends away, educational seminars and, up to lock down, I had been hosting a cafe meetup every Thursday for the previous eight and a half years. Running Amach has been a very colourful addition to my life. I have met many wonderful women, made lifelong friends, laughed and had fun, fun, fun. RA is special and it has been fantastic being part of it.” – Noeleen Cummins

A group of women in sports jackets smiling

“I have particularly enjoyed being part of the Running Amach group during the lockdown. It is great to be able to stay connected and meet new friends through the online events and chat” – Mildred Ryan

“At the start of lockdown I never thought I would actually connect with new people in the LGBTQ+ community from my ‘homo’ in Clare, but that’s what happened when I joined the online cafe chats with Running Amach. It can be difficult to connect with peers in the community, even at the best of times, so to have the opportunity to do so in a safe and friendly space has been one of the most positive experiences I’ve had over the past few months.

“I’m thoroughly looking forward to meeting my new Zoom buddies for a real life coffee, hopefully sometime in the not-so-distant future. I’d encourage anyone looking for a connection with women in the community to join in with the chats any day of the week!” – Karina

A group of four women holding candles and laughing

“A great group. In many ways it has been my life for the past ten years. Every week, Trish and I go to a meetup. In particular Lynda Sheridan’s meetup in Street 66 is great craic. And we always have a good night. The sheer variety of meetups over the past ten years is wonderful. I went to Blessington with Running Amach for a weekend away. Also, the daily zoom meetings with Marina, Kai and the rest of the group have been a great support but also good fun during this difficult time of lockdown” – Olive Wilson

“Ten years ago I joined Running Amach as I was trying to improve my social life on the lesbian scene, through the same I have met wonderful inclusive women all over Ireland. Indeed, it’s the best women’s group I’ve ever been part of. One highlight has been when I wrote my life story for the Running Amach book.” – Lynda Sheridan

“Running Amach saved my life and the Running Amach book (published in 2015) helped me to express myself. I cannot explain to you the difference in my life from my first contact with Running Amach. My life has changed utterly and I am now openly gay in my work and with my family- something I never imagined would happen.

“Attending Running Amach social events helped me to develop my confidence and become more authentic in my identity. I am now, who I was always meant to be. I feel part of a community and have gained so many friendships.” – Current Member

A group of people hiking

“Since joining Running Amach I’ve been part of many brilliant meetups. From weekends away, exhilarating hikes and walks, to having my story in her book, forever the craic at picnics, in the pubs, clubs and cafes and so much more. RA has it all and continuously offers its members original, fun and quirky events, while always in a safe and welcoming environment.

“It enriched my social life from the get-go and continues to. Although I’m abroad now I always catch up with RA on my visits home. Then with lockdown, many events went online so I signed up to a virtual running meetup which has been fantastic and has given me much-needed motivation to get out and active during and after lockdown, all the while reconnecting with new and old friends. I gotta say the hosts have been keeping the site fresh with a whole load of cool virtual meetups during lockdown. I do hope to run amok with Running Amach for many more years to come. Probably the best meetup in the world.” – Emma

“Having a Zoom meetup every day has been fun, it’s been an adventure, an education, a support and has had some very positive, indeed moving feedback from those attending. It’s been a real achievement and it’s something RA can be proud of.” – Marina

Naturally with the pandemic we have migrated mostly to online events for the moment, with online chats, co-watching with discussion, yoga, etc. Offline we still run Nike+ running club for those who are managing to get out and exercise. As we step back out into the offline world, we look forward to getting back to meeting up once again and a number of socially distanced events have been organised already.

Our ethos is welcoming, we encourage anyone of any age, our members range from 18 all the way up to their 70’s. While we are exclusively for women, we would like to stress that we believe that this includes all who identify as women.

For more information, you can visit the Running Amach Meetup page here, or visit their Facebook page here.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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