Mothers of Modern Ireland

Kay Davis, Galway

17th July 2008

In the County Galway I’m starting to think that I’ll soon need to invest in a larger pair of jeans or give up the food! Our base in Sligo has been like a holiday camp, obviously we have been working very hard but have had the pleasure of returning to an open fire and always a wonderfully prepared meal which included a salad soaked in

Pierre’s (our hosts) dressing that had been passed through his family. Four consecutive nights have been spent trying to convince Pierre to branch out and bottle his dressing to sell it to salad lovers all over Ireland. I think he has started to consider it! Stepping in to Kay’s house was like taking a step back in time. Although she no longer resides in her family dwelling it still stands next door to her bungalow and is now in the hands of her brother. It was something to be able to visualise the setting of a lot of the tales Kay was to tell and humbling to think of all the time that had passed between then and now and how much had changed. Indeed the village of Oranmore has possibly changed beyond recognition. Kay has done an awful lot of research on the history of the village all compiled for a book she is writing at the moment. We were lucky enough to have a sneaky peak at the manuscript and to have the lady herself on camera with a world of information to share. Kay's Ireland was very different to the one we have been hearing about. Hers was a more privileged tale of eggs galore and shoed feet. Of course life is challenging for every one in one way or another and this lady was far from spoilt. It seems that though social standing changes a lot of things there is one element that it does not change and that is the responsibility of a woman to hold a family together. As the oldest girl Kay did what many others would have had to do whether they were penniless or privileged, she looked after her siblings. Here there seemed to be a very marked cultural change. Gone were the days of dress dancing and aristocracy. Kay mentioned that her mother would never have gone to the shop a maid would have gone. Kays generation were the first to become self sufficient and not be looked after. It was a pleasure to interview Kay in her home. Most of the objects that would have adorned her childhood home and her grandfather’s home were in the front room with us. Photographs of ancestors hung on the wall perfectly illustrating this bygone age. It wasn’t long before the teaching profession was brought in as Kay spent twenty years teaching. Needless to say there have been many striking changes in that field! There will be many more to follow. This lady was a trooper when it came to the acquisition of knowledge, having grinds herself before classes there seemed to be no limit to the lengths this woman would go to, to ensure a decent education! That’s dedication!

- Hannah