In this commemorative year of Voail 100, Boyle Arts are delighted to honour a native of the town, Margaret (Gretta) Elizabeth Cousins (nee Gillespie) who co-founded The Irish Franchise Movement that helped to secure voting rights for women, amongst a host of other hard-won achievements as a women’s activist. In 1950, Margaret wrote that, “in my childhood I had watched with dazzled eyes and some glimmer of understanding many a torchlight procession in the struggle for political freedom in my home town of Boyle”.
Maire Egan Paul, a former Town Council member and last mayor, has been researching the life and times of Margaret since undertaking a Local History project with NUI Maynoth. She will share a fascinating and truly unique story about the enigmatic woman who was born at No. 7 The Crescent.
Maire’s background was in marketing and tourism and she lived for over twenty years between the U.K., Austria and Cyprus. Citing Dervla Murphy as her inspiration, she has travelled extensively to many of the world’s exotic and frontier outposts in a timeline that afforded an opportunity to observe the ending of colonial rule in many African countries; travelling safely as a woman in India, and south east Asia, and even spending a weekend in both the Sudan and Pakistan!
Since returning to Ireland, Maire completed diplomas in Christian Family Studies (NUI Maynooth) and Community Development (NUI Galway) (her thesis being The Battle of the Curlieus story as a community initiative) and has been involved extensively with local community activities such as Boyle Tidy Towns, Girl Guides, Rainbows, B. E. and a founding member of the Family Life Centre, having also written the first edition of its history. She also assisted with research for the book “They Dared to Challenge in the Garrison Town of Boyle”.
Maire is currently on the Roscommon Older Peoples Council, The Manifesto Group, Boyle Age Friendly Town and is setting up a regenerative project to deal with the forgotten history and value of Boyle’s original street, the Mail Coach Road, aka the Green.
Maire has two daughters, Davinia in Inverness and Christina in Wellington NZ