• Morgan Fagg

International Women’s Day

Updated: Mar 11, 2019

For over a century, International Women’s Day has been celebrated but it was only last year that March 8th became a public celebration with Spanish citizens striking for equal pay and equal rights.

This year as Madrid prepares for the general strike, I have decided to celebrate International Women's Day by writing about an Irish woman whom I think we can all look up to.

Picking up a copy of Granuaile which I found in a Spanish school’s storeroom, I think it is important to address that women have not always had their fair share of history.

Author Anne Chambers addresses the lack of details about the life of Grace O’Malley, in Irish records and explains how her research depended on English archives that had recorded the life of Ireland’s Pirate Queen. History is not always kind and with that in mind, I have dusted off my own archives to write about an inspirational Irish trailblazer I met and photographed in 2008.

From the Kitchen Sink to the Highest Heights

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2019 and look to a more balanced future, I can’t help but write about one inspirational woman who went from the kitchen sink to the highest heights.

Pauline Baker, is a record-breaking hot air balloonist from Trim, Co. Meath always wanted to fly like a bird when she was a child. Looking out the window while washing dishes one day, Pauline decided to follow the balloon flying by her kitchen window.

Pauline Baker has taken to the sky paragliding, skydiving and flying planes and helicopters but it is hot air balloons that Ms Baker loves the most and she holds 95 Irish records.

Pauline Baker has flown further, faster, higher and longer in balloons of various sizes. She has set records for both general and female categories but more importantly, she has broken many world records. Records which required reaching higher in extreme and difficult conditions.

There is no glass ceiling in the sky and even if there was, I’m sure she would have shattered it too.

Just like Amelia Earhart our Irish aviatrix has had to take risks flying higher and further than anyone before and during one distance record-breaking moment, flying in faster winds than balloons would normally fly, the igniter came loose and fell to the ground making re-igniting impossible, if the flame went out.

Without a controlled burn and difficulties flying in the extreme conditions, she was unable to re-ignite the flame which had burnt side panels on the balloon as fuel dripped down on to the brave trailblazer.

She landed safely and the prize.

If you can't take the heat stay out of hot air balloons and the record books but while her career started looking out the kitchen window, Ms Baker flies to altitudes where you would only see her looking out the window of a commercial airliner. Flying in freezing conditions that plummet as she rises higher in extreme temperatures of -40º.

We can all look up to Pauline Baker and thanks to Sean’s bar, we can all raise a glass to her many achievements and in 2008, Flying in Ireland magazine featured her in her Sean’s Bar hot air balloon while breaking two world attitude records in Northern Italy.

Granuaile ruled by land and by sea but Pauline Baker makes history taking us to new heights.

Someone, we can all look up to.

Celebrating International's Women's Day in Spain, Here are some photographs from Madrid.


Special thanks to Flying in Ireland magazine for their kind permission to use their cover picture.

Picture page of photos taken at Hodson Bay in 2008 https://www.fly-athlone.nohemingway.com/page

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