Mothers of Modern Ireland

Katherine Walshe, Cork

3rd July 2008

We were up early, in the worm-catching business, on our way to Cork to meet a lady we'd lovingly dubbed "Apple Grandmother". We sat outside a house in Bishopstown that had an Apple logo on the door and waited. It turned out to be the wrong house in the end and we hoped this wasn't a sign of things to come. Katherine met us with her only daughter and her grand-daughter. Every lady we meet on this project is unique in a unique way: Katherine was no exception. She was extremely well educated and one of the first female engineers in the country. She represented Irish Women around the world at Engineering conferences and fought in the unions for more money and equal pay. Kay's father had set his mind on turning his first born into an engineer, even when it turned out to be a girl. Because of this determination of her father, Kay never saw it as strange when she found herself at University being the only girl amongst 100 boys. The interesting part for us as her audience was that the gender issue just wasn't an issue. She was clearly intelligent and good craic, so nothing was ever made of her being a woman. As the day went on and we enjoyed a great picnic in the rain, this marvellous woman seemed to open up to us, these three strangers and again, this humbling feeling began to take root. Funnily enough, the movie is called Mothers of Modern Ireland, but Kay uses a Mac Book and has her own website - she could be classed as a product of Modern Ireland, rather than a Mother of it - but this is all part of the understanding that comes from all this knowledge we're collecting: For even our parents generations it would have been a huge deal to go to University, for a woman of their parent's generation to go - in Ireland - is something that gives you an indicator of the spirit of Ms Walshe.

- Tom