Irish History is vast and rich, and none know that better than the people of rural Ireland. They carry stories of the past with them like old friends.

Alison Wickham’s book, ‘Irish Women Speak’, is no exception.

It is a fascinating account about the lives of women from the town and hinterlands of Clonakilty. The 240-page collection spans decades of tales on career, family and heritage from more than 36 women, aged 35 to 95.

About the book

The collection of stories highlights the everyday lives of these women in the 20th Century. It includes stories of their mothers and sisters, family and friends. It shows how their lives were affected by the history, economics, and politics of the time.

Assembling Unheard Voices

The Foreword is by historian Dr Claudia Kinmonth. She writes:

“The stories gathered here span the spectrum of Clonakilty life. The women’s stories sensitively gleaned by Wickham include many detailed accounts, which are akin to gold dust to the historian, yet make fascinating reading for those familiar or unfamiliar with Irish rural culture.

A sense of contrast emerges within many narratives. The late Margaret Feen’s brilliantly detailed story recalls how the Irish woman’s role in the 1920s was ‘only a degree above slavery’ when men ‘ruled over their women with a rod of iron.’

These are accounts from people whose voices might never otherwise have been preserved and whose stories are a highly valuable addition to the minority of historical publications that explore the role of women, rather than men.”

About the Author:

Alison Wickham is a New Zealander who has lived in Clonakilty since 1998. She has a background in social science and being Irish by choice, rather than birth, observes with a fresh, impartial eye. She currently resides between two countries: Ireland and New Zealand and has lived in Ireland since 1998 when her husband was recruited to set up the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation. She has collected the stories over the last five years.

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