My tour of Ireland recently took me to Monaghan on a glorious sunny afternoon. Bernie Bradley very kindly invited to bring the road show to Monaghan County Museum as part of Social Inclusion Week.
It was a really enjoyable afternoon in the intimate setting of one of the museum’s exhibition rooms. This was the first time that I was hearing about everyday life in a border county. While many of the familiar themes that have come up at other road shows were repeated, there were lots of stories associated with the border. The women who came along talked about smuggling butter, stuffed in the pockets of aprons worn under dressed, across the border, and of going to the North to buy clothes for the children and changing into them before crossing back. It was also fascinating to hear about the mobile shops that came to the rural communities a few times a week, selling essential items. Much like the conversation in Portlaoise, there were stories about life before electricity and running water in the home.
This series of road shows around the country really emphasise the importance of considering geographical variations when writing about the everyday life of women in 1960s Ireland. Certainly, there are themes that are universally common, but each community has its own nuances. Hopefully, these distinguishing features will be aptly captured in the People’s Archive I’m working on.
As a side note, I was fortunate to see the World Within Walls exhibition at the Museum while I was there. This exhibition explores the histories and memories of St Davnet’s Asylum in Monaghan Town. It blends the experiences of patient and staff, and locates them within the structures and features of the Asylum.
Next stop: Galway on 23 June.