Mothers of Modern Ireland

Betty Martin, Derry

4th August 2008

The penultimate lady of our massive journey. Is it possible that we've come this far, so quickly? The whole thing has been a giant example of the relativity of time. Sometimes we feel like we've been on the road for years, other times it feels like we were sitting down to chat with Lily Carew only a few days ago. I'm not quite sure how both feelings can occupy the mind simultaneously, but they seem to.

Betty has always lived in Derry. On both sides of the river. The river splits a mainly Protestant community and a mainly Catholic one. Needless to say Betty has witnessed some of the most awful scenes of modern European history from this part of the world where - depending on whether you call your home Derry or Londonderry - means you are making a political statement that could mean risking your life by uttering it. Betty had so much more to tell us though, than tales of faith-based misery. She was first to tell us of her relative luck, in a household where she had the water and electricity, that so many across the island could only dream of. These little factors were signals of a life that was just that little bit more privileged than some others who began marching and fighting for their civil liberties.

Yet Betty told us stories of how she was discriminated against in the workplace. This was the birthplace of the Troubles and Betty was kind enough to tell us about what people were saying and thinking, eating and celebrating during those tumultuous times.

- Tom