Dia is Mhuire díobh go léir a chairde, and welcome to my report.
We have come through some of the most varied and powerful weather in recent times. And even though we didn’t suffer any major damage around here it did give everything and every one had a sense of uncertainty. Planned events having to be cancelled or going ahead and being badly attended. And our March Fair was no different on Sunday. Nobody fixes it but it’s a traditional thing that it goes ahead on the Sunday nearest to the first of the month and this year it struck it head on. The weather was exceptionally bad for the last few days of February which cast a doubt over the annual Fair. Every other year the vendors would come into town the previous evening and mark their territory by putting the iron frames for their tents lying by the curb and guard them jealously till time to get everything ship shape and open for business next morning. None of that happened this year.
Horses are not allowed on the streets of the town anymore. They are confined to what used to be our Fair Field, but now a modern car park. So our Garda did what they always do on March Fair Day. They put up lots of traffic signs and barricades, letting all and sundry know where to go and where not to go. Anyway the first day of March dawned and with it came bright sunshine and blue skies, heavenly calm, which continued all day long. There were only a few horses, few standings and very few people on the finest March Day Fair that we had seen for years. Oh dear.
International Women’s Day is on our doorstep. The experts say that women hold up half of the sky and I suppose having said that we’ll have to say that the men hold up the other half. That’s a nice rounded statement. Very fair and very balanced. Half for them and half for us. I just wonder when did it happen? At what stage did women begin to take another look at themselves and say “I’m better than this”. God knows that and many others like me, have seen some mega changes in our time. Some you forget, others stand out. But the one that sticks with me is that women were always seen as the underdog and not just grown women. Girls of the family had to polish their brothers boots, iron their shirts, etc. Saturday night would find them doing these menial tasks while the lads played ball or some other boyhood games. There was a definite line between men’s work and women’s work. A man wouldn’t be seen hanging out the washing, cooking ,baking, making the beds, brushing the floor. Even in name she was Mrs Paddy Smith, not Mrs Mary Smith. A man was free to treat his wife in any way he liked, he was The Boss and there was no law in the land nor the Church to protect her. Women rarely,very rarely had their names included in any property and if her husband happened to die, she could be put out in the road along her children. In the early part of the Century, women couldn’t vote, they had no say in the running of church or state. This paints a very sad and morbid picture of the life of women back then. The truth of the matter is that they were very happy and content and they shared their lives and difficulties with the other women around them. But that in itself was not a good thing. Thinking as they did like their mothers before them and coping with the same old problems, being prepared to go that same old road again stopped them from taking another look at themselves and asking, ‘Is there another way’? And as soon as they became aware of their own strengths and dreams and self worth, there was no stopping them. They came out of the shadows, built themselves up and proved to the World that they had the power. In the early days of the 1900’s they made history by forming one of the first Women’s wartime bodies which they called Cumann na mBan and helped the men to gain freedom for our country. They did it for us all and that’s why we can hold up Half of the Sky Today.