Obituary – Alison Hunter
Founder Member of IAHIP
9th March 1932- 8th Nov 2019
“I was always taking these leaps of faith and it was like leaping into the deep end of the swimming pool all the time”.
Alison Hunter was a brave adventurer in the realms of pre- and peri-natal trauma. She was a passionate, strong and decisive role model, the elder and matriarch of the Amethyst tribe and a really interesting woman.
Born in the UK, the granddaughter of a Cork woman, she trained and worked in horse management before contracting polio at the age of 20. Overhearing her surgeon say that she would be in a wheelchair
for the rest of her life, she utterly rejected that assumption and spent three determined months in rehabilitation learning to walk again with the aid of callipers. Her next challenge was learning to drive and with grit and determination, she mastered that in a mere three weeks.
Alison with wheels was a force to be reckoned with and her next incarnation was as a Born-Again Christian. She studied theology for three years, followed by a move sideways from a strict definition of God as a ‘He’ to a more general view of God as universal energy, available for healing and sustenance for ourselves and for others.
It was during these years that Alison met Frank Lake, a pioneer in primal therapy, and in the 70s she began her counselling training, and became an assistant to Frank in his primal therapy groups. These groups were experimental and experiential as they explored and mapped trauma, in particular birth trauma. During this time Alison also met Shirley Ward and they began to work together on experiential weekends both in the UK and Northern Ireland.
In an interview with Sarah Kay in 2011, published in the Autumn issue of Inside Out, Alison spoke of the challenge of re-experiencing the horrors of her own birth with William Emerson in California:
I realised more and more what that first trauma meant, how it had affected aspects of my life…Today we can’t work like we did when I was going through all that …It was tough, physical stuff, voluntarily gone into, but we couldn’t do it that way today… somehow the whole consciousness has raised enough for people to be able to reach these depths without having to use the methods we did.
In 1981 Alison moved to Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow and began her therapy practice there. A year later, Amethyst, one of the first holistic healing centres in Ireland, was born. Weekend experiential workshops in pre- and peri-natal therapy were offered and were very well attended. Alison was soon joined by Shirley Ward and Carmel Byrne and in 1999, a friend built the training school for her in Ballybroghan near Killaloe, Co. Clare, on land owned by Alison.
It was a magic place, complete with fairy fort and stunning views, close to where the great Irish hero Brian Boru built his castle. And Alison had something of that stature and heroic courage about her, to those of us who had the privilege to be her students at Amethyst. She would sweep into the training room like Queen Maeve on her chariot, her eagle eye taking in exactly what was going on for each one of us. She had a deep wisdom and knowledge and an understanding of grief and fear born of her own journey; but she had high expectations for herself and for us. She truly believed that the only way to heal was to re-experience the pain that we had spent most of our lives avoiding and her strong presence along with her own personal courage held out the expectation that we would go there. And so, we did.
Alison had huge courage and determination; nothing daunted her, and with her beloved and devoted friends and fellow trainers Shirley and Carmel, she provided a superb training in Amethyst. I was privileged to be a part of that for a few precious years and I can honestly say, it changed my life.
Alison truly was a bird with bright wings. May she fly. May she soar on those great wings of hers. May she leave her wheels behind and dance in the loving arms of those who have gone before her. May she become a precious, treasured part of that great and good and loving energy which she taught us so much about.
Ar dheis De go raibh a hanam.
Ann Irwin is a graduate of Amethyst and runs a private practice in Cork, seeing individuals, couples and adolescents. Passionate about her work, she loves to walk, meditate and enjoy family when she is not working.
Kay, S. (2011). Alison Hunter in conversation with Sarah Kay. Inside Out, Issue 65.