1931-2008; b. 31 Dec., S. Circular Rd., Dublin, of Jewish parents; feminist journalist and novelist; commencing on The Irish Times in 1949 [?aetat. 15], writer about Jews emigrating to Palestine and the wives of circus performers; m. Kenneth Mesbur, 1940, and settled nr. Ontario, Canada, 1956 - with whom three children, Adam, Diane and Mike; returned to Ireland with her children in the early 1960s, following her husband's infidelity; contrib. to Irish Women's Review and the Irish Bystander and assoc. with Mary Kenny, Margaret Gaj and Mary Maher in Irish feminist movement; ed. Irish Womans Journal;
worked for five years as a researcher on The Late Late Show (RTÉ); issued Sisters (Swords
1982; 1985), a popular success, which incls. her admission of having had an abortion in Britain in 1967, discussion of which was then banned on RTÉ in 1983; wrote Lyn: A Life of Prostitution, the story of Lyn Madden, which was serialised in Magill, ed. Colm Toibí, 1983; published in book-form, 1987; travelled to Canada with Nell McCafferty in 1988, stirring controversy about use of Lottery Funds, the application being made by her publisher; ed., with others, the Field Day Anthology of Irish Women's Writing; met Ivor Browne shortly after his separation in the 1960s, and lived with him thereafter before ultimately marrying him in 1999; d. 14 Oct. 2008. DIW
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Sisters: The Personal Story of an Irish Feminist (Dublin: Ward River Press 1982; rev. edn. Poolbeg 1985), 308pp.; Lyn: A Life of Prostitution (Dublin: Attic Press 1987), 275pp.; A Season of Weddings (New Island Press 1992), 285pp. [novel].
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Obituary (The Irish Times, 18 Oct. 2008) incls. quoted remarks: In those days I didn't know that I had a right to ask myself who I was and where I wanted to go quite apart from my husband and family and so I went mad. How I escaped it all was that my husband went off with somebody else while I was in hospital and my mother insisted I come home to Ireland to rest up and get things in perspective, and when I got home my husband told me not to bother coming back. The womens movement started in Dublin and I discovered that I hadn't done anything awful, had not made any dreadful mistakes, and was not a colossal failure [...] I had just been born a woman and had not understood the rules of the game. The women in the women's movement here rescued me. They made me realise that I was okay.
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Katie Donovan, A. N. Jeffares & Brendan Kennelly, eds., Irelands
Women (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1994), quotes Sisters: The Personal Story of an Irish Feminist (1982; Poolbeg 1985).
For her marriage to Ivor Browne, see Browne, Music and Madness
(reviewed in Books Ireland
, May 2008, p.101.)
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