Saturday, December 22, 2012

Elizabeth Prendergast. Beginner's Pluck

Beginner’s Pluck.
Interviewed by Sue Leonard.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 23rd December

Beginner’s Pluck Elizabeth Prendergast.

Elizabeth trained as a nurse in London, and spent a year working there in Casualty, before returning to Ireland, where she sold endoscopes.
“I gave that up when I was pregnant with my elder daughter.”

She went back to College, and took an MA, before, finally, becoming an artist. Meanwhile, she helped with the archives in the Airfield Trust, and it was here that she found some documents relating to the Jubilee Nurse. Feeling this was a story that had to be told, she roped in her friend, Helen Sheridan to help.

Who is Elizabeth Prendergast?

Date of birth: 1960, in Kerry, but quickly moved to Wicklow.

Education: Presentation College in Killarney. School of Art in Cork. UCD History of Art and Archaeology. MA in Arts policy and Arts management.

Home: Ballsbridge.

Family: Husband, David O’Leary, and two adult daughters, Tess, and Meg.

The Day Job: Botanical Artist.

Interests: My social interest in walking in Herbert Park every morning, then meeting for coffee. I'm in a book club with the same group.

Favourite Writers: Molly Keane; Elizabeth Bowen; Jennifer Johnston; I love their sense of humour.

Second Book: If I was to do one, it would be a book of Botanical Artists; about their lives and their obsession with plants.

Top Writing Tip: Find yourself a quiet space, where nobody can disturb you.

Web: Twitter: None.

The Debut: Jubilee Nurse Voluntary District Nursing in Ireland, 1890 – 1974. Elizabeth Prendergast and Helen Sheridan. Wolfhound Press: €18.99.

Jubilee nurses worked tirelessly providing a nursing, and sometimes a maternity service to people in their own homes. This history draws on archival material and interviews with some of the nurses.

“The nurses were the centre of the community, and were loved. But it was the District Nurses Associations that caught my imagination. These committees of women volunteers, numbering 50,000 at any one time, ensured that the nurse’s money was paid, and that she had a bike.”

The Verdict: An illuminating account of women who've been written out of history.

© Sue Leonard. 2012.

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