Jeanne Rathbone

Margaretta D’Arcy Galway Woman

Posted in Margaretta D'Arcy Galway Woman by sheelanagigcomedienne on July 14, 2018

Margaretta D’Arcy is the most bolshie and active protesters of the Galway women I have selected and the first on the Notable Galway Women walk starting at the Browne Doorway Eyre square site of protest. The walk would take too long if it started at her home up the hill in St Bridget’s Place.   D’Arcy is one of the 14 Tribes of Galway.

Margaretta

 

 

Darcy crest

 

Margaretta has had decades of playwriting, acting, pageantry, pirate radio, books, peace activism,  protest and imprisonment whilst bringing up her family of boys. She addresses Irish nationalism, civil liberties and women’s rights.

Margaretta was born in London in 1934 to a Russian Jewish mother and an Irish Catholic father. Her father, Joseph, came from a tenement in Henrietta Street, Dublin and was active in the IRA during the War of Independence.  As the daughter of an Irish freedom fighter and a Jewish doctor Miriam Billig, a second-generation refugee from Odessa in the Ukraine, this split identity informed her battles in the theatrical and political worlds she has inhabited. She was the third of four girls in the family who were moved between England and Ireland, and to different addresses in Ireland.

Margaretta darcy 1964

Margaretta  worked in small theatres in Dublin from the age of fifteen and later became an actress. She was an acting ASM at the new, progressive-looking Hornchurch Rep in the early 1950s and graduated to the Royal Court where she became an actress in the heady days of that theatre’s radical resuscitation under the charismatic George Devine. Protest was constant in her life. She joined Bertrand Russell’s Committee of 100 in 1960 as did her husband to be.

Margaretta and John

She met and married the playwright John Arden in 1957. They had five sons: the eldest, Finn, is a film editor; Jacob works for City University in London; Neuss is a safety inspector on the London underground and Adam works in construction in Australia. A fifth son, Gwalchmai, was born with spina bifida and died a few weeks later. They moved to a house on a village green in East Yorkshire next an RAF/US Air Force base housing nuclear missiles and protested by wrote a letter to the American commander of the base saying she and her family felt personally endangered by his weapons and asking him to examine his conscience, then cycled over with a baby on her back to deliver it. The commander’s reply, through the local police, was a threat of 25 years in jail for encouraging a soldier to abandon his post!

She and John were very prolific in their writings.  Her plays include The Pinprick of History; Vandaleur’s Folly; Women’s Voices from W. of Ireland; Prison-voice of Countess Markievicz; A Suburban Suicide (a radio play, BBC3, 1995); Lajwaad (The Good People, play by Abdel Kader Alloula, adapted by M. D’Arcy for readings in London, 1995); and Dublin (Irish Writers’ Centre, 1996).
Plays devised as group productions include Muggins is a Martyr; The Vietnam War-game; 200 Years of Labour; The Mongrel Fox; No Room at the Inn; Mary’s Name; Seán O’Scrúdu; Silence.

Plays written in collaboration with John Arden include The Business of Good Government; The Happy Haven; Ars Longa Vita Brevis; The Royal Pardon; The Hero Rises Up; The Ballygombeen Bequest; The Non-Stop Connolly Show; Keep the People Moving (BBC Radio); Portrait of a Rebel (RTÉ Television); The Manchester Enthusiasts (BBC 1984 and RTÉ 1984 under the title The Ralahine Experiment); Whose is the Kingdom? (9 part radio play, BBC 1987). Her publishers include Methuen, Cassells, Allison & Busby (formerly Pluto Press), all London.

They settled in Galway in the 70s and established the Galway theatre Workshop  in 1976. They had a cottage in Corrandulla a few miles from the city. ( My Dad, as consulting  civil engineer, was involved in some works they had done to it.) We used to see them as we passed their cottage as we had ours nearby in Tonnegurrane and I remember seeing them riding their bikes in the boreen around our cottage. They also had a little ex-corporation house in St Bridget’s Place in Bohermore where her radio station was based. (I had corresponded with her about a women’s festival she was organising in the 80s).

Her four boys lived in London, in India and on an island in Lough Corrib before they were through their teens. They saw their mother imprisoned in Shillong Jail, in northeast India, and, later, in Armagh for refusing to pay a fine incurred during a republican rally. During the Greenham Common women’s peace camp, which existed from 1981 to 1990, she spent two days in solitary confinement at Holloway Prison for refusing to adhere to the strip-search policy.She was jailed in the North for campaigning for political status for the women in Armagh prison and again in London for the Greenham protests against Cruise missiles. In 2014, she was imprisoned after she refused to sign a bond saying that she wouldn’t trespass on non-public parts of Shannon Airport. Her arrest was a consequence of trespassing on airport property during protests over US military stopovers at Shannon. It was then she was dubbed Giuantanamo ghranny which she used as her title in her account of this and her time in Limerick Jail.

Margaretta and John protesting Royal court

Here they are protesting outside the Aldwych Theatre which was staging John’s play The Island of the Mighty.

There some lovely articles about her and John.Timothy O,Grady   https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/ireland-s-guantanamo-granny-by-margaretta-d-arcy-innocence-in-pursuit-of-sanity-1.2575306

Jeff O’Connell in the Galway Advertiser.                                                           https://www.advertiser.ie/galway/article/50939/remembering-john-arden?fbclid=IwAR0v1evfSW5MK9i54dxoufwVrUFgmH11Ke8AixkKBSiVoqQLJWmRyjB5xXo#.W9GYLpQPLSQ.facebook

It is interesting to hear about Margaretta and John from their children’s perspective, especially since John died in 2012. Finn admitted their embarrassment when they were teenagers about their parents, which is very normal.  https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/behind-bars-with-the-shannon-one-1.1675241 Her son Finn said: “She was always a bit of a rebel really, her background kind of seen to that. The circle she was hanging around in the late fifties would have included Francis Bacon and Brendan Behan, people like that and then she met my Dad.”

Ballad by son Jake with great images about his mother  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-601HCKYCI

Her friend the film director Leila Doolan said:  “She’s indomitable, really,” Doolan says. “People sometimes think of Margaretta as a person without a sense of humour, but if you read her memoir you see the absolute hilarity with which she views life, while at the same time being very serious about it.”

 

NUI Galway Receives Archive of Margaretta D’Arcy and John Arden. Sabina Higgins wife of the President of Ireland is seen here with her as she is a friend.

Celebrating Margaretta D’Arcy’s Theatrical Activism appraises her contribution to theatrical activism. https://www.contemporarytheatrereview.org/2015/margaretta-darcy/

Here, activists from the brilliant feminist performance group Speaking of IMELDA offer a series of stimulating reflections on the influence of Margaretta D’Arcy on their own agitation for abortion law reform in Ireland. 

IMELDA at Kings Cross 2016

The IMELDA’s when I joined them at Kings Cross

Margaretta has written various memoirs about theatrical activism, Armagh women’s prison, her Shannon Airport protests at American war planes and her pirate radio exploits. She has just kept going despite having Parkinson’s disease now. She is still busy as you can see from her Facebook page. She keeps her passion alive by making everything “fun”.If everything is fun you don’t get bored.

When I emailed her to tell her she was included in this walk and the context of it been a resposnse to the Galway Girl songs she replied; It is great what you are doing exposing the patriarchal myth of passive icons.So, thank you Margaretta. You are definitely Galway’s greatest living political protester, the stroppiest and feistiest of them and a Galway Woman to be proud of.

 

Maureen Kenny bookseller and Notable Galway Woman

Posted in Maureen Kenny Bookseller Notable Galway Woman by sheelanagigcomedienne on September 15, 2017
Maureen Kenny in bookshop

Maureen Kenny bookseller extraordinaire

 

Maureen

Madonna of the Manuscripts was how Seamus Heaney once described Maureen Kenny. She was more than that as she devoted most of her life to the promotion of new Irish writers and artists as well as presiding over one of the most famous Irish bookshops. https://www.kennys.ie/about-us

Maureen was born in Glebe Street, Mohill, Co Leitrim, the eldest of three children. Her father died suddenly when she was four years old leaving her mother with three young children and a business she knew nothing about. Next door was a Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) barracks which was taken over by the black and tans. On a couple of occasions they took the infant Maureen and used her as a human shield on top of their truck while driving around Mohill randomly shooting in through windows.

Her mother was an extraordinary woman who saved every penny to give them the best possible education. Maureen went to school locally in Mohill and then attended Saint Louis Convent, Monaghan on a scholarship. She then went on to win a scholarship to UCG (NUIG) in 1936 and on her first day there she met Des Kenny. As Des often said later “that was that”. They married on graduating and rented two rooms on High Street in Galway, setting up a bookshop in one and living in the other.

 

Maureen and Des Kenny

On November 29th, 1940 they opened the doors of what was to become the internationally renowned Kenny’s Bookshop. Hundreds of people claim to have been there on the first day although Maureen remembered it as being very quiet. It was during the war and people had little money for food, let alone for the luxury of books and so the early days were all about survival.

They stocked the shop by borrowing books from their friends and relations and buying new books with what little money they had. They tried many different ideas like selling second-hand school books, running a lending library or placing book stalls in hotels and factories.

Maureen was ahead of her time and employed the strategy of direct marketing before the phrase had been heard of. She put hand-written cards in hotels and B&Bs with “a suggestion for a rainy day”. The suggestion of course, was to visit Kennys.

However, despite their efforts Maureen and Des could not survive by the bookshop alone and so Des went out to work elsewhere, leaving Maureen to run the shop.

Their eldest son, Tom was born in 1944 in the bookshop on High Street and shortly afterwards they were able to move to a house in Salthill where their other five children, Jane, Dessy, Gerry, Monica and Conor, were born. Maureen’s six children were virtually reared on books and so it was no surprise that five of them joined her in the business.

In the mid 1960s her husband Des rejoined the family business and from then on it began to expand. They knocked down part of their house in Salthill and opened an art gallery in 1968. They built a book bindery in the back garden and rented additional premises to cater for their expanding stock of books. A great emphasis was placed on exporting and they instilled in their family a love of all things Irish, especially books.

Kenny familyThe bookshop began to gain an international reputation. Maureen was the one constant in all of this growth and artists and writers from all over the world came to meet her and to avail of her vast knowledge of Irish interest material. As John McGahern once said “Mrs Kenny misses nothing”. One of her great gifts was her phenomenal memory as she would report the arrival of out of print books books to people who had asked for them years before. As one customer said: “who needs amazon.com when you have Mrs Kenny?”

She loved to encourage young writers and rejoiced in their success. Aspiring authors would delight in the fact that Maureen had taken the time to read their books and was now promoting them. The large collection of signed photographs of writers who had visited was testimony to Maureen’s popularity.

Maureen never regarded the shop as work. To her it was a genuine pleasure to stand behind the counter in High Street, which she did for 66 years, only retiring when it was decided to transfer the books business online. Even in her 80s she wasn’t afraid of change in business, indeed she was quite visionary and when the bookshop closed its doors to go online in 2006 her comment was “you have to look forward, you have to move with times.”

Maureen was a founder member of the Leitrim People’s Association in Galway. She was very involved with Our Lady’s Girls Club and the Soroptimists. She was honoured many times for her extraordinary contribution to cultural life in Ireland and especially in Galway.

Bord Failte made her an Honorary Ambassador for promoting Ireland in 1990. Maureen and her husband Des were the first honorary life members of the Galway Chamber of Commerce.

The following article is from their 75th anniversary of bookselling in Galway written by Tom Kenny, her eldest son. I knew Tom as I am friends of his sister Jane – we were in the same year in Taylor’s Hill  Dominican Convent school. I recall getting a lift to Dublin with Des Kenny when myself and my friend Kathryn Lydon were heading off to work in Jersey in 1964. I conducted a funeral a few years ago of Ronald Gray of Hammersmith Books that Conor and Geraldine Kenny attended as they had bought Ronald’s entire collection.

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/kennys-bookshop-in-galway-a-bestseller-for-75-years-1.2229648

kennys

The Kenny family. Jane is in blue and Tom is the grey bearded one.

This year Kenny’s Bookshop in Galway celebrates 75 years of bookselling and 21 years of selling online as kennys.ie. Our staff of 18 includes eight Kennys. We stock about 650,000 volumes, new, second-hand and antiquarian books. In addition to selling on kennys.ie, we work with Amazon, ABE, Alibris and other portals to sell into countries all over the world. We also offer free shipping worldwide.

After meeting at UCG they graduated and got married. They had no jobs but they wanted to stay in Ireland. It was during the war, they had no money and there were few prospects. Both came from book-loving families and so they decided to open a bookshop. It seemed like an act of madness, but they were young, very much in love, tenacious and not afraid of hard work. They leased the ground floor of a building in High Street, Galway. The bank loaned them £100 with which they bought some stock and friends and relations gave them books. The shop was tiny, but they opened with hopes and dreams and very little fanfare on November 29th, 1940.

To add a little colour, Maureen introduced crafts, handmade locally in the late 1940s. In 1951 she hosted her first exhibition and this in turn led to visual artists showing their work. A major development in the 1950s was the purchase of a second-hand duplicating machine which was installed in my bedroom at home, and the family began to crank out catalogues. These catalogues gave the shop a new status in Ireland, and introduced us to customers abroad. Our horizons were expanding. We were selling mostly second-hand books and were gaining in experience and expertise. Our speciality was (and still is) books of Irish interest. Des was on the road at every opportunity buying libraries and the quality of the stock improved.

The Irish language has always been very important to us and we have a uniquely extensive stock of Irish language books.

Regular visitors at this time were Brendan Behan, Mary Lavin, Walter Macken and Austin Clarke. Graham Greene visited and subsequently carried on a correspondence. William Randolph Hearst syndicated a major article on the bookshop in all of his newspapers.

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/kennys-bookshop-in-galway-a-bestseller-for-75-years-1.2229648

In 1965, our father Des came back into the business on a full-time basis and his dynamism and vision, combined with Maureen’s pragmatism and by now legendary knowledge of books had a transforming effect. They opened the first commercial art gallery in the west of Ireland with an exhibition of paintings by Seán Keating. From then on, we hosted exhibitions of paintings, sculpture, stained glass, ceramics, book launches, readings, signings etc. We began to photograph visiting writers and artists and opened a shop dedicated to antiquarian maps and prints. As children, we were immersed in books so it was no surprise that five of us joined the business and in 1974 our parents built a book bindery in their back garden for Gerry.

Sorley McLean did a reading, Séamus Heaney, Paul Durcan, Edna O’Brien, Richard Ellmann and William Trevor visited, Brendan Kennelly and Frederick Forsyth opened exhibitions. President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh caused traffic chaos when he asked his driver to stop “for a minute” while he stepped in and talked to our mother about books. Those in the cars behind did not want to blow their horns at the Uachtarán’s car.

Maureen and McCourt

With Frank McCourt author of Angela’s Ashes

In the early 1980s we managed to buy the High Street building and also the building behind it which backed on to Middle Street. We linked the two buildings together and transferred the maps, the art gallery and a store full of books to the city-centre location. We began to publish a series of books, mostly of local interest. The US Library of Congress appointed us as their Irish suppliers.

When Roald Dahl spent two days signing his books, it was one-way traffic through the shop and the queues went up to the top of the street. The launch of Breandán Ó hEithir’s novel, Lig Sin i gCathú, was broadcast live on Radio 1 for 90 minutes. Brian Friel opened an exhibition; Jurgen Lodemann made a documentary for German television on the bookshop; Samuel Beckett signed photographic mounts so that his “portrait” could be included with the exhibition of author’s photographs.

President Hillery opened an exhibition of portraits of Irish writers entitled Faces in a Bookshop with some 50 writers in attendance. Benedict Kiely, Noel Browne and Maeve Binchy also opened exhibitions. Derek Walcott, Miroslav Holub , Sir Sidney Nolan and Allen Ginsberg visited. Andrei Voznesensky, Margaret Attwood, Jung Chang and Thomas Keneally visited.

In 1994, we became the first company in Ireland to have a website and the second bookshop in the world to go online. This exciting development slowly changed the dynamics of bookselling and we were now travelling extensively in the US and Japan networking, selling, building up collections for libraries. Des Jr. started a book club for individual customers.

In 1996, we closed temporarily while we completely rebuilt the interior of the High St /Middle St premises. The new complex was launched by John McGahern who opened his speech with the line: “Mrs Kenny misses nothing”.

Face to Face was published, a collection of some 200 author’s photographs taken in the bookshop.

We bought the entire contents of the long established Hammersmith Books in London when Ronald Gray died. ( I conducted his funeral that Conor and Geraldine Kenny attended in Lambeth Crematorium!)

Maureen Kenny hon docOur mother was conferred with an honorary degree by UCG. Part of her citation read: “She and all she stands for remained a constant when virtually everything around her had disappeared, been redeveloped or surrendered to more perishable, transient tastes. Her metier represents one that is entwined with Galway’s history”. In 2006, she retired after 66 years behind the counter.

Kenny authors

Various authors in the bookshop including Margaretta Darcy and John Arden.

Several years ago, we realised we were selling more books online than on the high street, so we decided to move about a mile away to a large industrial building on the Liosbán Estate on the Tuam Road. It does not have the character of the inner-city shop, as it is geared up for our export operation. Today, online sales account for 80 per cent of sales but we also retail books and have done a great deal to retain as much of the atmosphere of the old and we still host book launches and readings. As I write this, author Patricia Forde is here reading from and discussing her new book, The Wordsmith, with more than 100 schoolchildren.

Portrait of Maureen by Jenny O’Brien from her series Galway Inspirational Women.

Maureen by

Portrait of Maureen by Jenny O’Brien from her series Galway Inspirational Women. http://www.jennyobrienportraits.com/grccgallery.html

The Kenny family business were nominated in the Book Retailer of The Year category after 75 years in the business when they were pitted against Waterstones, Foyles and Blackwells. No doubt, Maureen would have taken it all in her stride. https://www.irishpost.com/news/kennys-ready-for-battle-in-war-of-the-words-49199

Maureen was great company, had a keen sense of humour and loved life. She passed on important values to her children, such as charity, perseverance and a love of things Irish. So many of her children and grand-children were around her in her last moments. She died March 25th 2008.

 Michael D Higgins President and former arts minister spoke at her funeral and her “institutional presence” in the artistic life of Galway, and the “wonderful gift” that she had left in terms of her family’s continued involvement in bookselling on the internet, bookbinding and art. He recalled her kindness and generosity to students who didn’t have much income, and her close relationship with writers who chose to launch their books on her premises. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/writers-and-artists-at-kennys-bookshop-founder-s-funeral-1.907452

It is indeed a wonderful legacy and that is why she is a notable Galway Woman.

 

Notable Galway Women

Posted in Notable Galway Women by sheelanagigcomedienne on June 6, 2017

I am writing this series of blogs featuring Notable Galway Women in reaction to the two songs entitled Galway Girl – one written by Steve Earle and the latest by Ed Sheeran in the Irish tradition of songs about women from a male perspective – the male gaze.

I am celebrating and commemorating 14 Notable Galway Women in the centenary year of some women women getting the vote. This is in parallel with my Notable Women of Lavender Hill Walks which came about because none of the Wandsworth Heritage Societes/Groups were planning any activities in the centenary year as they had already decided on the theme of ‘open spaces’ . This is why my talk on International Women’s of Significant Battersea Women became my walk Notable Women of Lavender Hill.

In my preface I explain that as a Humanist Celebrant I have been writing brief biographies for funerals and memorials and this is an extension of that tendency. I have also been involved with the Battersea Society commemorative blue plaques and believe so much in this kind of commemoration. I have even gone a step further in campaigning for a statue of Charlote Despard 1844-1939 socialist, suffragette and Sinn Feiner to be commissioned in the regenerated Nine Elms Battersea. So, I am on a mission to have real women commemorated as they are so under represented visibly in the public domain with plaques and statues.

Getting back to the Galway Girl songs.  They are often fetishised descriptions of hair colour, wearing black velvet band, rosy cheeks, lily white skin, wearing bonnets, carrying baskets, tripping along, called Mary, Rose,  Eileen and, of course, place naming Galway, Tralee, Mooncoin etc.  This is the typical objectifying of women as the ‘comely maidens’ of De Valera’s imagination. The Lovely Girls contest in Father Ted refers to the annual cringe fest of the Rose of Tralee beauty pageant where the Roses parade in front of the Prime Minister every summer – an Taoseach ogling the cailini – only in Ireland or an oligarchic Whatistan.

The other role of Irish womanhood is, of course, in the home and enshrined in the constitution. The reference to a woman’s “life within the home” rather than work in the home, and the desire to prevent mothers from engaging in the labour force “to the neglect of their duties in the home” is insulting,  Catholic inspired and patriarchal.

My original blog was in response to the blow-in Earle who has returned to the states but when I heard that Sheeran had written one also with the same title, was happy to admit that 400 million people of Irish descent would be interested in it, shamelessly acknowledging that he did it for financial reasons and not bothered by a plagiarism challenge.

The hype in Ireland, particulaly in Galway,  about it was OTT especially when the video starring Saoirse Ronan as the Galway Girl appeared.  saoirse ronan

http://www.dailyedge.ie/galway-girl-video-implausible-3373033-May2017/

The Earle imagined black-haired/blue-eyed women disappeared after the one night fling after their a walk on the Salthill prom. Presumably she fled because she didn’t fancy him in the sober light of day. Stewart Lee, cynical comedian, has sung it on the grounds that his wife’s folk – comedienne Bridget Christie – hail from Galway. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfAJAG6dgQI

There is a version as ghaeilge.  A cover version of the song by Mundy and Sharon Shannon reached number one and became the most downloaded song of 2008 in Ireland, and has gone on to become the eighth highest selling single in Irish chart history.

So, Ed Sheeran thought he could cash in the popularity of a song called Galway Girl.   The Sheeran Galway girl it turns out was based on fiddle player Niamh Dunne who is a member of Antrim-based folk group Beoga that collaborated with Sheeran on the track.  However, she is not his love interest nor married to an Englishmen and is from from Limerick. But they did spend a night on the tiles in Dublin Irish dancing, Guinness, two Irish whiskeys – Jameson and Powers, Van the Man, a rendition of Carrickfergus, Grafton Street – the usual kind of ingredients of a commercial modern Irish song.  Of course, he is eligible for an Irish passport, ginger hair etc. And that makes him Irish. He even has a photo of him as a teenager busking in Galway next to the statue of Oscar Wilde.

Ed Sheeran in Galway

Teenage Sheeran busking in Galway

So now I feel compelled to write about Galway women. The first thing to note about Galway women is that they are women not girleens. I am one.  There is some interesting imagery of women in Galway songs. For a start, you had the women making hay, in the uplands digging pratees whilst chatting in Irish- a language that the English do not know. The woman featured in the song a Galway Shawl wears ‘a bonnet with a ribbon on it’ but ‘she wears no paint nor powder,  no none at all’.

Further name check of Galway songs produces the Queen of Connemara which transpires is a boat, Sweet Marie refers to the name of a horse in the Galway Plate race of the Galway Races. There’s the Lass of Aughrim which featured in James Joyce’s Dubliners. There is Pegeen Litir Mor telling how she attracts not only the poet but men from different districts. And so it goes on.

Even our bard Seamus Heaney got in on the act with his Girls Bathing Galway.

No milk-limbed Venus ever rose
Miraculous on this western shore;
A pirate queen in battle clothes
Is our sterner myth.

…in swimsuits, Brown-legged, smooth-shouldered and bare-backed
They wade ashore with skips and shouts.

This will always remind my generation of the proclamation of disapproval by the very conservative Bishop Browne about women in Salthill wearing two piece bathing costumes which prompted a letter in response from some Galway women inquiring which piece of the swim suit did his Lordship wish them to remove.

Galway women come in varying shapes, sizes, temperaments, ages and colours. They are emigrants, daughters, mothers, sisters, wives, lovers, poets, authors, entrepreneurs, singers, dancers, artists, politicians, teachers, workers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, engineers, scientists, administrators, shop assistants, etc.

I would like to introduce you to a few Galway women.  It is a random choice from poets, to Nationalist activists. I have included Mary Devenport O’Neill (1879 – 1967) poet and dramatist. She wrote the poem Galway which I suggested to Tom Kenny should feature in the Galway Poetry Trail. He said it was too long!

Galway

I know a town tormented by the sea,
And there time goes slow
That the people see it flow
And watch it drowsily,
And growing older hour by hour they say,
‘Please God, to-morrow!
Then we will work and play,’
And their tall houses crumble away.
This town is eaten through with memory
Of pride and thick red Spanish wine and gold
And a great come and go;
But the sea is cold,
And the spare, black trees
Crouch in the withering breeze
That blows from the sea,
And the land stands bare and alone,
For its warmth is turned away
And its strength held in hard cold grey-blue
stone;
And the people are heard to say,
Through the raving of the jealous sea,
‘Please God, to-morrow!
Then we will work and play.’

There are powerful Galway women like Catherine Corless who has worked tirelessly to expose the secret and shame of the neglected babies who died and were buried in unmarked graves and their unfortunate mothers who were incarcerated by the Irish state and the Catholic Church whilst the silent population looked on. There was Bridie O’Flaherty , Mayor and founder member of the Progressive Democrats, Anita Leslie 1914-1985,  biographer and writer and there is Leila Doolan Producer /Director,  Patricia Burke Brogan, playwright, novelist, poet and artist who exposed the the Magdalene Laundries scandal in her play Eclipsed, Jessie Lendennie founder of Salmon Publishing which has championed women poets, Vanda Luddy artist, Mary Coughlan, chanteuse and Galway character that was Una Taaffe etc.

I emigrated in 1965 when I was still a teenager and so my choice of women of Galway reflects that as I am now an old pensioner, pagan and stranger in the City of Tribes. I have selected Nora Barnacle, wife and muse of James Joyce,  Rita Anne Higgins poet, Michelene Sheehy  Skeffington, botanist and gender equality campaigner, Siobhain McKenna, actor,  Lady Augusta Gregory, playwright and Abbey Theatre founder,  Garry  Hynes, Theatre Director, Alice Perry, Civil Engineer, Ada English, Psychiatrist 1903 UCG, Alice Cashel, Irish nationalist,  Margaretta D’Arcy, author and activist, Maureen Kenny, bookseller, Mary Devonport O’Neill poet Dolores Keane singer and Clare Sheridan sculptor and writer. A younger person would have chosen a different set of Mná na Gaillimhe  and I hope they do and continue the celebration of significant Galway women.

I hope that some Galway woman/women will pick up this idea and even do a walk entitled Notable Women of Galway Trail to the places lived in or associated with these women. I think this should happen for 2020 Year of culture. I certainly hope so and it is part of my intention in embarking on this. I also hope that

I will feature each one individually.

Nora Barnacle (1884 -1951)  Wife and Muse of James Joyce Nora Barnacle

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/tag/nora-barnacle/

Maureen Kenny (1918-2008) Bookseller extraordinaire Maureen K

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/maureen-kenny-galway-bookseller-extraordinaire/

Lady Augusta Gregory (1852-1932) Dramatist, folklorist and theatre manager Augusta,_Lady_Gregory_ alter life

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/lady-augusta-gregory-galway-woman-2/

Rita Anne Higgins  Poet, Bard of Galway Rita-Ann-Higgins-2

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/tag/rita-anne-higgins/

Alice Cashel (1878-1958) Irish Nationalist Alice_Cashel

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/tag/alice-cashel/

Garry Hynes      Theatre Director Garry Hynes

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/galway-women-part-2/

Alice Perry (1885-1969)  First Woman  Civil Engineer 

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/2018/05/02/alice-perry-first-european-female-engineering-graduate-galway-woman-6/Alice_Perry_1885-1969

Michelene Sheehy Skeffington    Botanist, NUIG Gender Discrimination     

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/tag/michelene-sheehy-skeffington/

Michelene

Margaretta D’Arcy Author, Political Activist Theatre 

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/2018/07/14/margaretta-ddarcy-galway-woman/

Margaretta D

Margaretta Darcy

Ada English (1875-1944) Psychiatrist and Irish Nationalist

https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/2018/07/20/ada-english-psychiatrist-galway-woman/

Ada biography

Mary Devonport O’Neill (1879-1967)  Poet and Playwright https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/2016/07/28/mary-devenport-oneill-poem-galway/

Mary Devenport O'Neilll

Dolores Keane Singer https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/…/dolores-keane-singer-and-notable-ga…

Dol

Siobhán McKenna (1923–86)         
https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/category/siobhan-mckenna-renowned-actor-and-notable-galway-woman/
Siobhan Dr Z
Clare Sheridan (18  -190 Sculptor, Author and Traveller
https://sheelanagigcomedienne.wordpress.com/category/clare-sheridan-author-sculptor-and-notable-galway-woman/
Clare by Anita