“200 women from this island, every single week, go to England for abortions. Yet nobody ever talks about it.”

Abortion is illegal in Ireland, North and South, potentially punishable by life imprisonment. And yet at least 8,000 Irish women a year travel to England for abortions. They make this journey in secret and return in silence, some of them never telling a soul. LIKE A SHIP IN THE NIGHT is a 30 minute documentary which follows a young painter, a working class mother of five, and a self-proclaimed country girl as they plan their secret journeys across the Irish sea.

“I was just so frightened I would be stopped.”

Along the way we hear from community workers, doctors and counselors about the history of the laws and social attitudes that make their journey necessary. Louise, Mary and Siobhan are welcomed in England by grassroots activists who support Irish women during their stay. After their abortions, the women head home, each armed with a “catalog of lies” to explain their absence. At the end of a long, often emotional journey, they are afraid to tell anyone where they have been or what they have been through.

“I just wanted the waters to close right over that experience.”

Although the three women begin their journeys with different views on abortion rights, they all return silenced, terrified, and angry at their country.

“It just tells a story that could be any of us.”




“Melissa Thompson is the kind of activist filmmaker who puts her camera where her head is – reminding us of the importance of protecting and keeping vigilant about women’s rights.” – St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival

SHIP is getting blogged about! Follow this link to the Angry Hedgehog.



LIKE A SHIP IN THE NIGHT comes with a a special second DVD that offers more information on the issue of abortion in Ireland. The following DVD extras are included on disc 2:
• Historical Undercurrents (16 minutes)
• Making Waves: Pro-Choice Groups in Ireland (30 minutes)
• Crossing Over: Logistics of Travel (22 minutes)
• Escorting Irish Women (10 minutes)
• Stuck at Sea: The Current Situation (15 minutes)


The two disc DVD set is now available for rental or purchase from the Cinema Guild.





view quicktime clip

slí na mban series on Irish women's activism




produced in association with Ipas - Global Reproductive Health and Rights


additional support provided by the Princess Grace Foundation, the Gerbode Foundation & PIFVA


For rental and purchase info, please contact the Cinema Guild.