• Morgan Fagg

Mná na hÉireann

I write various stories about Ireland and the Irish in Spain, I don't look for them but I do come across them and while I don't speak Irish, I did see a notice on Gaeilge i Madrid Facebook page about a discussion entitled MUJERES de Irlanda/ Mnà na hÉireann and decided to check it out for myself.

With no other details, I decided to take the metro to the event, not knowing if it was in Spanish or Irish or what. I knew nothing of the group other than the purple poster said 8M which is a reference to the 8th of March which is International Women's Day and I presumed there was a series of talks about Unstoppable women from the last century. Imparables, Ciclo de la Mujer.

It has of course been over a century since the first Women's march and I'm not sure if people understand the global significance of both the Easter Rising in Ireland and the Women's marches in Russia. I'm not sure if it is true or not but an Indian man once told me that the Indian flag is based on the Irish flag as Ireland started the rebellion that led to independence. I believe the Easter Rising also helped to inspire the Russians to end the Romanov's thousand year dynasty and rule.

Arriving at the corner-shop stop, I found a full house listening to the historian Victor Renero talking about famous Irish women and the role they played in history. 27 people, mostly women were listening to the Spanish discussion and I was wondered if I would be able to follow the presentation.

Unlike Black History Month or Irish Heritage Month that you might find in America, I have never learnt much about women in Irish history other than Countess Markievicz and while I knew about the various women being discussed, to me it was more general knowledge as I had never heard these women grouped all together and I guess Veronica Guerin was making news long before she became history. They say, journalists write the first draft of history but sadly for the fierce financial investigator and her family, she wrote her own obituary when she exposed criminals by following the money to criminal empires. She became front page news herself on June 26th 1997 when she was executed on the M7 motorway by a motorcyclist.

While everyone in Ireland should be looking to their mother today as we celebrate Mother's Day, it was fantastic to see so many Spaniards listening to rebellious tales from Ireland.

The presenter Victor Renero, has lived and loved Irish history, first arriving in Ireland in 1990 where he started a PhD in Celtic Studies, European and Spanish Iron Age after completing a degree in History. He spent the Summer in County Down where he picked up a grá for the Irish language.

When he returned to Spain he began studying the language and has since written numerous historical papers and books on various topics and has even translated a book from Irish to Spanish. An Irishman wrote a book about his memories from the Spanish Civil War and Victor Renero is currently trying to get the Spanish translation published.

In 2006 he teamed up with some colleagues to publish Cuentos Medievales Irlandeses, a collection of short stories translated from Irish into Spanish from different Irish medieval tales.

A very enjoyable night in a superb community centre where I was asked to sample some Irish stew.

Sampling some Spanish Stew

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