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Showing posts from August, 2017

The Fabric of Memory

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For my grandmother, the white piqué skirts and satin hair-ribbons, and the lace pinafore worn by baby Evie, in this photo of my mother and her sisters were expressions of respectability as well as style. Money was scarce and my granny's motto was "we have to keep the best side out."
That motto was used in many an Irish family. As I say in my memoir A Woven Silence, I find it admirable and disturbing in equal measure. While the resilience it expresses is remarkable, it has certainly contributed to Ireland's unwillingness to confront its culture of gender inequality.
Evie died young but Cathleen, on the left in the photo on the cover above, and my mother, on the right, grew up with my grandmother's sense of style. Which I think must be why, as I drafted the book, I found that my own image of my aunt Cathleen expressed itself continually in images of fabric and fashion. 
She was unmarried and a career-woman, the only role-model in my childhood that offered an alternati…