Mothers of Modern Ireland

Sylvia Meehan, Dublin

23rd July 2008

DSC_3076 We've tried to keep the film as un-political as possible. That was our aim anyway. And so far on this project, that line has been trodden fairly well. Our ladies talk of a personal world that speaks volumes itself for the political climate of the time in Ireland. But today that was about to change, and not because it was outside of our power to stop it being changed, but because we were presented with an incredible opportunity to speak to a female Irish figure who has had an extremely political life. Sylvia Meehan, believe it or not has never been a politician as such, but she did feature on last year's leaving cert paper as an influential female Irish political figure. She has struggled tirelessly for women's rights and more recently, fuller rights for older citizens. She met us in her tardis of a house in Dublin and sat us down in her beautiful full height parlour surrounded by her 6 feet tall impressionist paintings. The house and room reeked of character and I was excited to talk with the woman behind the room, so to speak. Sylvia told us fascinating anecdotes of her activist life, her run-ins with Bertie and how she stood up to the male-oriented political machine throughout her life. I myself can't wait to watch the footage back and relive some of the defining moments of Irish civil rights of the last 50 years, of which if Sylvia wasn't driving them, she was certainly in the passenger seat giving directions. A formidable woman who was extremely open to us and also told us her more personal stories of growing up in a privileged house in Dublin. She was well versed in how to handle the media and I think she slowly realised we weren't RTE who had come to find a political story. I was inspired, Sylvia has that effect on you. You see the organisations that have created real change for Ireland that she was a part of, did not exist until a group of like-minded people just started calling themselves "A parliament". It was only years later, after all the hard work that people associate the title with the stature of the group. Once again, it's hard to impress how honoured I feel to have met this woman, like so many of our ladies, for so many different reasons. Roll on the end of the shoot when we can start sharing the fruits of the labour with everyone that has been following our progress. Sylvia is currently president of the Irish Senior Citizens' Parliament, which you can read more about on their blog.

- Tom