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Reflecting on International Women’s Day, Ireland’s Referendum Day, and the Resilience of Scattery Island Women

a vintage photo of an old airplane

Today marks an important day for Ireland, as citizens across the country are called upon to participate in two referendums aimed at shaping the future of our nation. As we step into the polling booths, we carry with us not only the weight of our individual choices but also the collective responsibility to shape the landscape of our society.

But March 8th holds even deeper significance, for it is also International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the achievements and contributions of women throughout history and across the globe. On this day, we not only recognize the progress made towards gender equality but also acknowledge the ongoing progress made on women’s rights and empowerment.

As we embark on this journey of reflection and change, let us take a moment to look back at the remarkable women of Scattery Island, whose strength and resilience continue to inspire us today. In the face of adversity, these women stood tall, weathering the storms of life with unwavering determination and courage.

a group of people in a field

As their men ventured into the often treacherous waters of the Shannon in small curraghs, they watched them leave, knowing that their safe return was never guaranteed. Yet, despite the uncertainty, the women of Scattery Island were far from idle. They tended to the land, worked the fields, and braved the elements to provide for their families.

A man and woman rowing a boat with Scattery Island in the background

Scattery Island, 1953

Their stories, etched in the gravestones of Scattery Island, bear witness to the hardships they endured—the lives lost too soon, the children buried before their time. And yet, amidst the sorrow, there was resilience, a fierce determination to thrive against all odds. I feel great pride to be a descendant of these great women and have found great inspiration from learning of their stories over the years.

In celebrating International Women’s Day, we honour not only the women of Scattery Island but also women everywhere who have defied expectations, shattered barriers, and carved out their place in history. Theirs is a legacy of strength, resilience, and unwavering determination—a legacy that continues to inspire us as we strive for a more just and equitable society.

Whatever your decision on today’s referendum, let us remember the women who came before us, whose struggles and sacrifices paved the way for the progress we see today both inside and outside of the home. And let us commit ourselves to continuing to build a future where every voice is heard, every carers contribution is valued, and every individual is supported and treated with dignity and respect.