Friday, January 06, 2017

Tribute to three local women

'Illuminate Herstory' from 5-8 January 2017 is a national programme to celebrate and shine a light on Irish women, writes Mary Orford. Also, Nollaig na mBan (Women’s Christmas) which falls on 6 January is a time for women to rest and enjoy Christmas so a focus on 'Mná na hÉireann' is well timrd. To celebrate both, I’d like to shine a light on a group of women from Kilcullen who contributed so much to local history.

On this day of Nollaig na mBan 2017 I salute three dedicated, committed primary school teachers: Sr Carmel Thérèse (Kilcullen Convent School), Miss Margaret Duffy (Brannockstown) and Miss Margaret Dowling (Ballyshannon).

These three women encouraged their pupils to collect and write down folklore tales before traditional practices died out. The pupils created word pictures of the Kilcullen area as it was in bygone days. Together with their pupils, the three teachers gave us the gift of a treasure trove of information, pishogues, cures, weather lore, childhood games, proverbs, riddles and much more.

If you want to know how to cure a wart, play a game of Sticky Toffee or how to celebrate Christmas of olden times, go to and see the work of these three women and their pupils.

To all the women reading this, a reminder of how to celebrate Nollaig na mBan: Suígí síos agus ligigí bhur scíth. And while you’re sitting, shine a light on yourself - write down or record your own history, or just share your personal history with someone. Transform 'herstory; into history!

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