"I'm interested in everything," Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) tells Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer) in last year's The Insider, one of my all-time favorite movies. (And movies are where I've learned all the important lessons.) Well, I jumped up in my seat with a "whoopee" - this was in a suburban Cambridge cinema: Bergman had just annunciated the guiding principle of my life, the passion I bring not only to my work.

How could it be otherwise? I was born in Dublin, capital of a contested Ireland and a doubtful Republic. An English speaker whose first recorded word was a protest "no", my parents agreed to allow me complete my schooling through Irish; a decision which led to such tongue-twisters as study of the Gallic Wars "as Gaelige". To attend school at all I had to cross the Liffey, the city's river immortalized in James Joyce's Finegan's Wake - this a dangerous foray into the uncharted, uncharted at least by us snobby southsiders. (I've written about the Liffey in the short story I rather naughtily call Dubliners.)

A devotee of Anna Pavlova, I wanted to be an actress, and television footage of my early performances (as an extra - but credited!) is to be found in the RTE archives along with the later newsreels. (Political allies and antagonists alike are quick to point out that I've never left the stage!) My dancing shoes stayed with me, however, and travel and adventure have been hallmarks of my life since my first airplane trip to London at the advanced age of eighteen, a trip financed by double shifts at trendy Captain America's Cookhouse.

For women of my generation coming of age in the immediate aftermath of bra-burning and conscious of the innumerable indignities to which our mothers had been subjected, the Ireland we inherited simply would not do and I, no more than so many of my contemporaries, became involved in the project of radical social transformation that has characterized the last twenty-five years of Irish life. That I would become so intimately identified with abortion was not a development I foresaw when I marched the streets of Dublin for legalized contraception. Nor did I foresee that my intervention at a public meeting sponsored by the feminist Women"s Right to Choose Group would lead to fifteen years involvement in defining and defending women's moral agency. But this was my late parents' legacy - my brother Brian, now a husband and father, and I were brought up to take a stand for our beliefs.

Perhaps one of the most difficult of life's lessons, particularly for the politically committed, is the management of our exits. Shakespeare's entrances are so lightly made, but what happens when our part is run and the script moves on? At barely 40 years of age, I had achieved my personal goals for pregnancy counseling and advanced the philosophical discussion as far as I believed I usefully could. It was time to identify a new challenge.

And where to find such challenges if not in the New World? A long-standing friendship brought me to Maine three years ago. The best move I ever made, I'm fond of saying to Irish friends when quizzed about this decision. It has been in Maine that I've found the confidence to believe in myself as a writer - not only a journalist, researcher, essayist, publicist, but a writer of fiction and poetry. My collections Tea With Friends (poems) and Too Early for Lupins (stories) are a source of pleasant amazement to me ("I wrote that!") and represent an absolute commitment to this work.

For the next adventure, I'm turning to the Internet. I love the possibilities of this technology, and, in TheMeMap.com, I have the opportunity of bringing my mission – Access, Information, Choice – firmly into the 21st century.