Mothers of Modern Ireland

Annie Towey, Roscommon

16th July 2008

Annie agreed to meet us at very short notice, less than twenty four hours but she was shockingly very well prepared. Not only had she made a batch of fresh scones and presented herself beautifully she had also made notes the night before so she would not miss anything out or find herself tongue tied on the day. Tongue tied however was one thing Annie was not. At 92 she had so much to tell and most importantly the will to do so. There was little need for questions where this lady was concerned she had our job half done for us. Annie was no shrinking violet when it came to being on camera or having her photograph taken, indeed she took a lovely photograph. There is a serenity about a lot of these ladies, Annie summed it up when she said that when you’re ninety two, nothing comes as a surprise. I suppose it is true that the ladies who volunteer themselves are not going to be troubled by us or our interest in them but at the same time I would like to think that one of the bonuses of growing up is that you loose the self-consciousness most of us suffer from in youth and are able to take a step back to reflect and not worry about things. It would be wonderful if the more years one accumulated the less one had to worry about. It works very much the other way for the first half of life why shouldn’t it reverse when you get to the middle? Break time arrived and out came those delicious scones and a nice pot of tea. Annie was on watch to make sure that the cup never ran low and that we had more than one bun! Shane was to have a mug but us ladies were treated to china, which brings me to another point. There was so much more of an emphasis on manners before especially where the ladies were concerned. Annie, has never worn a trouser suit in her life. It simply wasn’t done then! Ladies were not encouraged to play football and sometimes not expected to show themselves at matches where I suppose they would be exposed to all the rough edges of male company. There was a modesty in women at that time that is deemed irrelevant today. I don’t approve of all practices of course. There were rituals like churching which Annie was adamant was a blessing but to many other women was a cleansing, that I will never agree with, however when it comes to day to day life perhaps us girls could take a smal leaf out of the old book. Is it neccesary when dressing up to show more flesh? it wasn’t then. Is it important to wear make up every hour of the day? Annie was a prime example of a natural beauty. She probably never wore make up because she never would have needed to but there was a very still lady like quality about her that is definately lacking in this day and age. Bring back the manners! My mother used to tell my sister and I to pack our manners in a box before we left to visit anyone or went to school, ‘have you got your please and thank you’s girls?’ we always did though I think alot of others have lost theirs some where along the way!

- Hannah