Our SHINE Festival in March 2021 was a roaring success, smashing all of our targets with 40,000 girls attending. Over 80 incredible, authentic and badass women joined us to celebrate being a girl for 3 whole days!
This got us thinking! What other amazing women are out there that we haven’t met yet?! We didn’t have to look too far to find the incredibly talented Clodagh Finn. So, without further ado, we’d like to introduce you to Clodagh!
Clodagh, could you tell us a bit about yourself for our readers who haven’t met you before?
I’m a journalist and writer with a big interest in history and archaeology. I love stories and in particular forgotten stories, so it was a real labour of love to hear about and later write a book on Corkwoman Mary Elmes who helped to save children from Nazi concentration camps in World War l.
If you want to read more about Clodagh’s book – Time to Risk All – click HERE.
What made you come up with the idea of your book ‘Through Her Eyes: A New History of Ireland in 21 Women’?
Writing about Mary Elmes made me realise that women have not just been written out of history but, very often, they were never written in. I look back on my history in school and it was the story of men and the wars they fought. If there was a woman, she was generally on the arm of a powerful man or a mere footnote. For so much of my teenage years, we were told about all the things that women could not do. I wanted to look back and discover all the things that they could – and did – do. And what a journey. There were, to misquote the old rhyme, thinkers, toilers, soldiers and sailors. And much more besides – pioneers, queens, scientists and adventurers. I wanted to tell their stories and celebrate all that is possible.
Anybody who is interested in women from history can follow me on Twitter @FinnClodagh. I tweet about a different woman from history every day and I’d love to hear about all the wonderful women in your families. So get in touch.
Is there a woman in Irish history that you find particularly inspiring? If so, why?
There are so many, but one of them who is in the news a bit more now, is social reformer, businesswoman and abolitionist Mary Ann McCracken (1770-1866). She refused to take sugar in her tea because it was a product of slave labour. At 88, she was still distributing anti-slavery leaflets to emigrants leaving Belfast docks. Her motto was: “It’s better to wear out than to rust out.” I love that.
It’s also wonderful to hear that she may be honoured with a statue. I wrote about her HERE, if you are interested in more.
What was the hardest lesson you’ve ever had to learn?
When you are in the middle of a particularly painful time in your life, it’s almost impossible to remember that it will pass. Things do get better. I didn’t know (or maybe believe) that when I was really struggling in the final two years of secondary school. I found the exam pressure crippling but, more than that, I was just finding out who I was. I was adopted when I was six weeks old and although I always knew, I didn’t get full information about my adoption until I was 26 years old. Settling into your own identity is difficult in so-called ‘normal’ circumstances, but there’s an added component when you add in the secrecy and shame that have surrounded our mother and baby institutions for so long.
Thankfully, that is now changing and I have learned the hard way, that everything changes. So just hang in there until it does. Because I promise you, it always does.
Clodagh obviously you’re not only extremely passionate about writing but also learning about and telling other people’s stories as well. Do you have any advice for those who are trying to find a hobby that they can be passionate about?
If you are interested in writing, read, read, read. That is a great way to help you find your own voice. Then try it out – on paper, in journals, on social media. And keep writing because, like so much else, writing is one part inspiration and ten parts perspiration.
As for finding your own hobbies, be curious. Have friends of all ages and ask them about their lives and loves.
Try everything at least three times. Once, even twice, isn’t enough. You might have a really bad experience the first time you do something, but it could turn out to be the path to your passion. Go for it and happy travelling.
Pineapple on pizza, yes or no?
I once worked as a waitress in Chicago Pizza Pie Factory in Paris and ate deep-pan pizza for months. That has put me off pizza for life, pineapple or no pineapple.
Favourite song to have a good bop to?
Jacques Dutronc, ‘Et moi, et moi, et moi’. Look it up; you’ll be dancing around the kitchen.
Favourite place in Ireland to visit?
Kerry, no contest.
Favourite holiday you’ve been on?
Italy a few summers ago. To give our trip a focus, my husband and I decided to go on the trail of the medieval Este family. We set out to look for, and visit, their magnificent houses, gardens, paintings and collections. It was great fun and we enjoyed all that Italy has to offer – sun, magnificent food and culture – as we went.
We don’t know about you, but we are so glad to have Clodagh in our SHONA Community! It’s mad to think of how many phenomenal women are on this little Island of ours! Stay tuned to see who else we got chatting to!
P.S. If you have a suggestion of who you would like us to chat to next and have some burning questions, why not let us know on any of our socials ( @shonadotie ) or pop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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