Exhibiting 100 years of history in Longford

Celebrating women's contribution to public life

Aisling Kiernan

Reporter:

Aisling Kiernan

Email:

aisling.kiernan@longfordleader.ie

Exhibiting 100 years  of history in Longford

Sr Margaret Oates, Sr Rosaric Beirne, Sr Dympna Cassells, Sr Olive Donohoe, Sr Mary Cassells, Sr Elizabeth McNamee, Sr Kathleen Rogers, Sr Immaculata Gilmurray, Sr Rose Moran and Sr Evangelist Tiernan

A wonderful celebration of local women’s contribution to public life in Co Longford over the last 100 years took place at Longford County Library last Wednesday evening.

Women who got particular mention on the night included, Elizabeth Fanning, Cybil Magan, Margaret Magan, Philo Kelly - 1967 - 1999; Mary Ellen Brady, Cllr Peggy Nolan, Cllr Mae Sexton, Paddie Connellan - Longford Town Council 2004; Anne Farrelly, Granard Town Council 2009; Maura Kilbride Harkin, Mary O’Reilly - Granard Town Commission 1999, members of the ICA and the Sisters of Mercy.

County Archivist, Martin Morris, who carried out the research in relation to the exhibition said it was an honour for him to be in the presence of so many women who have been so active in the community both as current and former elected representatives and those involved in other organisations.

“We probably need to have more occasions like this where we honour the people who are working away - people who don’t necessarily feel they should be honoured or feel they should be honoured themselves - but we as a community we owe it to them that we do so,” he added.

“We are celebrating the centenary of the granting of the vote to women in parliamentary elections in 1918 - the vote was not on equal par with men because women could only vote once they had reached 30 years of age and fulfill a property qualification.”

Mr Morris, meanwhile, went on to say that while it was evident that over the last 100 years “not enough women” had served at national political level in this country, Longford could boast the election of its first ever female TD - Cllr Mae Sexton.

“And, while very few women have held positions at elected national level, many, many more have been elected at local level,” he added.

“That is what the ethos of this exhibition is - to look at the Longford women and the role they have played in our society.”

Cathaoirleach, Cllr Luie McEntire then pointed to the importance of the exhibition in marking, what he described, as a major event in this country back in 1918.

“As we look back on it all now, it is hard for us to understand why it took such a long campaign to achieve something that we now see as a basic right,” he said, before pointing out that while change happens, “people have different ways of looking at things in the past”.

“As we look at this exhibition we see the women that have contributed to Longford in so many ways and we tend to take some of them for granted.”

Meanwhile, the Cathaoirleach of Longford Co Council went on to say that the number of women who served as elected representatives includes many who we are all very familiar with.

“I myself know and have served with quite a few of them,” he added.

“Outside of politics the other groups and organisations that are mentioned show the breadth of women’s involvement in our history and in our communities.”

He added, “All of us have heard of the activities of Cumann na mBán and the events that took place 100 years ago; today Co Longford benefits gratefully from the continuing work of groups like the ICA which is going from strength to strength; Longford Women’s Link and the Sisters of Mercy.

“Much of the work these women have done and do is free and done without the intention of getting recognition and this evening we celebrate, and recognise this work and thank all the people who have been involved.”