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Extraordinary West Cork women celebrated in live performances

July 7th, 2022 7:10 AM

By Helen Riddell

Actress Karen Minihan will bring her book to life on the stage.

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A LIVE performance of stories from the book Extraordinary Ordinary Women will recount the extraordinary stories of West Cork females during the War of Independence, which have up until now remained hidden.

Author Karen Minihan first came up with the idea to research the women’s stories in light of the number of events being commemorated as part of the Decade of Centenaries, and realised that women’s stories were largely untold.

‘I found that even in families who had undertaken considerable research into their family’s role in the War of Independence, they knew little about the role some of the female members played. The women’s stories were often family secrets and uncelebrated. These women got on with the job in hand, but also were reticent to share their experiences and the circumstances of their involvement during the period of the War of Independence and the Civil War,’ said Karen.

In 2020 Karen put out a call for stories on the role West Cork women played during the War of Independence.

‘I asked for all types of stories, not just the women directly involved in Cumman na mBan, but how events at this time shaped the lives of other women and their families, and how the role these women played in the formation of the Irish State,’ she said.

The book includes stories like that of Nora O’Sullivan of Castletownbere who joined the Eyeries company of Cumman na mBan in 1917; Bridget Noble of Ardgoom, who was one of only three women known to be killed by the IRA during the War of Independence, and Rose O’Connell who ran the family butcher business in Skibbereen, struggling to keep her family together as her two sons took opposing sides during the Civil War.

Karen is a writer, actor and theatre director based in West Cork, and is the artistic director of PlayActing Theatre which has undertaken a number of community projects, and creative collaborations.   

Karen will be joined in the performance by Pauline O’Driscoll, a Bandon native whose television acting credits include Smalltown and The Young Offenders.

It will be performed at the Bere Island Heritage Centre on Saturday July 2nd at 6pm. Contact 027 75956 for further details. Further performances in West Cork include Schull Parish Hall on July 16th at 8pm, the Michael Collins Centre, Clonakilty on Sunday August 14th at 8pm and Kilmurray Independence  Museum in August, date to be confirmed.

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