Meet the inspirational Cork women of 2021

Editor of WoW! ELAINE DUGGAN takes a look back at some of the key stories that made the supplement over the past 12 months
Meet the inspirational Cork women of 2021

Cork makeup artist Jade Foley, who was in Glow up Ireland.

AS the curtain comes down on another year, we take time to reflect on some of the amazing women who featured in WoW! over the past 12 months.

In the past year, women have shared their joys, their heartaches, their hopes, their fears, their successes, their failures, and their dreams with us. While it wouldn’t be possible to revisit everyone who featured in the supplement, here are some of the powerful, moving and inspirational stories we ran...

Peigin Crowley of Ground.
Peigin Crowley of Ground.

JANUARY

Inspirational businesswomen were certainly in the spotlight in WoW! throughout 2021 - kicking off with Pegin Crowley, the founder of Ground, a collection of natural aromatherapy oils and balms. Pegin started making the product in her kitchen in Ovens - and it is now stocked in the likes of Brown Thomas, as well as five-star spas - See https://groundwellbeing.com/.

We caught up with Ireland’s leading Instagrammer Nicole O’Brien, who rocketed to fame after appearing in season one of the Netflix show Too Hot To Handle. It was a big year for the Cork woman, who launched her debut single and also her own clothing range. You can join her 82K followers on Insta @nicole.ob

Women working in healthcare were also on our radar. We had a wonderful spread on Cork midwife Margaret O’Driscoll - who has crossed the paths of thousands of mums in Cork after her four decades of service at Cork University Maternity Hospital. Having announced her retirement, she actually extended her time working to help with cover during the pandemic in 2021.

Siobhan Quirke of The QUirkey Kitchen with husband Sean Og.
Siobhan Quirke of The QUirkey Kitchen with husband Sean Og.

Another new business also featured in WoW! In January - a new food truck by Siobhan Quirke - whose other half is Seán Óg Ó hAilpín - who lends a helping hand at The Quirkey Kitchen on weekends.

The vintage coffee truck is currently based in Innishannon - find it at T12 FY80.

In January, we also carried a feature on a beautiful couple, Jimmy and Pat Skinner, who celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Hot on their heels in February were another Cork couple, wed 60 years - Anne and Danny Keane. “I was out on my bike going to see my sister, Josie, and I saw him cycling towards me on the road,” says Anne, from Ardnatrush, Ballylickey.

We just can’t get enough of these beautiful love stories!

 Katie Murphy of Katie's Pretty Paws.
 Katie Murphy of Katie's Pretty Paws.

FEBRUARY

Teenager Katie Murphy, one of Cork’s well-known quad girls, has set up her new business, as a dog groomer. Katie’s Pretty Paws is based in Carrigaline’s Industrial Estate. This month she marked the businesses’s first anniversary. Congrats, Katie!

There was a big focus throughout the year on women and the work-load they have to carry - which is even greater since the pandemic. Enter Ingrid Seim, who after a burn-out herself, is now helping other women to find a better balance in life with her consultancy and coaching business.

Also in February we featured barrister Doireann O’Mahony, a UCC graduate, who talked about her new book on medical negligence and childbirth.

February also marked our Valentine’s Day special and we had a beautiful interview with Marion Creedon Hegarty about finding love second time around after she was widowed at a young age: “I was a young, petrified widow. My beautiful husband had died, less than a month short of our third wedding anniversary. I realised you could actually die of a broken heart.”

Fatou BarryCareer Coach & Job Search Strategist who took part in our Choose to Challenge Campaign to mark International Women's Day.
Fatou BarryCareer Coach & Job Search Strategist who took part in our Choose to Challenge Campaign to mark International Women's Day.

MARCH

For International Women’s Day, we ran a campaign calling on Cork women to support this year’s theme ‘We choose to challenge’. And so many rose to the challenge - it was inspiring to read all their messages. Thank you to everyone who took part.

Mother’s Day came and went also and we featured mothers who had had babies in the past year - during the pandemic. They spoke of the ‘missing moments’ and what it was like to experience being a first time mum in the current climate.

March also saw us feature Niamh Gunn, of The Dialogue Code, who is working to identify critical issues facing women in the workplace, and the solutions for addressing them.

The care of elderly residents at a Cork nursing home was the focus of another feature, when we interviewed Teresa Hemlock, the Activities Coordinator at Cramer’s Court. It was wonderful to hear of the care and attention given to our elderly, who have been severely impacted by Covid.

We also interviewed, this month, two Cork women chosen to lead the national executive of the Social Democratic Party - Sile Ní Dhubhghaill was recently elected chair of the National Executive of the party, with Dr Angela Flynn having been appointed vice chair. Their party colleague Holly Cairns is the only serving female Cork TD in the Dail at present.

Emer O'Callaghan on the morning of her wedding day.
Emer O'Callaghan on the morning of her wedding day.

APRIL

In April our WoW! Columnist Emer O’Callaghan kindly shared her wonderful wedding photographs with us.

Cork woman Linda Doyle - Trinity College Dublin’s new provost - made history by becoming the first female to fill the role. When we caught up with her it was clear she hasn’t forgotten her Cork roots - born in Togher, she went to school at Togher NS and St Angela’s.

Staying with education, we said so long to the Principal of Cloghroe National School as she retired, Emma Dinnen.

We also looked at women who play another vital role in our society. Blackwater Search and Rescue has attracted a large number of female volunteers — some of the highest in the country. We spoke to some of the women, as the group continues a fundraising drive for their important work.

Kate Manning of Wild Adventures.
Kate Manning of Wild Adventures.

MAY

We interviewed Helen Arnold of Cork- based TVM - a hugely successful outside broadcasting business run by the Arnold family - they cover everything from major sporting events to presidential visits and pope visits.

Also this month, we featured Cork woman Kate Manning, who visited 23 countries and 20 islands across the seven continents. She launched a book detailing her travels, called Wild Adventures, with a big focus on climate change.

Meanwhile, another dream came true for a Crosshaven woman when she opened her glamping site on Bere Island, after 10 years in the planning.

Back to parenting, we interviewed parent coach and teenage mentor Eileen Keane- Haly, of Cork, about empowering children and parents, and her new book, The Parent.

Brenda Dennehy at Ballincollig Regional Park, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Brenda Dennehy at Ballincollig Regional Park, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

Also in May, Brenda Dennehy wrote a very honest account of why she doesn’t want to have children - it was something that resounded with a lot of people, and ended up on our top 20 most read stories of WoW! In the past year.

There were many brave women in WoW! This year, including a Carrigaline-based mother of two, Madeleine McCoole, who shared her breast cancer story in a bid to help raise funds for Breast Cancer Ireland. She was just 42, young, healthy and fit when she discovered a lump, turning her world upside down - she encouraged others to get checked out.

 Tara Shine from Change by Degrees who won the STEM category and was the Overall Winner at Network Cork's Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2021. Picture Darragh Kane
 Tara Shine from Change by Degrees who won the STEM category and was the Overall Winner at Network Cork's Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2021. Picture Darragh Kane

JUNE

In June, we shone a light on the winner of the Network Cork Business Woman of the Year, Tara Shine - who went on to win a category in the national finals. Tara is the co-founder of the social enterprise that inspires people to live and work more sustainably, Change by Degrees. With a career of 20 years as an environmental scientist, climate change negotiator, former special advisor to the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice group - and currently holding a senior United Nations role to assess progress being made to keep the global temperature rise to below 1.5C, she’s highly accomplished.

We caught up this month too with Trisha Lewis, of Trisha’s Transformation, who launched her new cook book. It is so wonderful to see the former mini marathon ambassador continue to inspire people, as she continues her weight loss and fitness journey to better health.

Our cover lady also this month was Yvonne Condon - an artist who has an installation on Princes Street. We caught up with the Midleton woman, born partially deaf and blind.

We also spoke this month to Glounthaune woman Laura Crowley, who has worked in autism services for the past 20 years and has launched her own consultancy

One new business we were thrilled to shine a spotlight on this month was Riley - it was set up by three friends who are trying to change the conversation surrounding period products and have launched a period subscription service, with a sustainable focus. For more see https://weareriley.com/

JULY

We spoke to Togher woman Collette O’Regan about what life was like as a Gay person in Ireland. Her story was in an exhibition in Dublin, featuring the stories and experiences of the LGBTQ+ diaspora.

We also visited Edel House this month - the Cork city emergency accommodation centre was halfway through an expansion that is improving the quality of life for the homeless women and children staying there.

We caught up with a mother and daughter duo who are volunteering their time with Cork Street Pastors. Jo Peters is one of the founding members of Cork Street Pastors group, who take to the streets every Saturday night - they hand out flip-flops (about 3,500 pairs to date), sweep up broken glasses, collect bottles (25,600 at the last count), provide a listening ear, and help people get home safely. Her daughter Sarah has joined the team.

 Ashling Muldowney from Cobh and Mel Manning from Carrigtwohill, swimming at Rocky Bay as part of their fundraiser in aid of Pieta.
Ashling Muldowney from Cobh and Mel Manning from Carrigtwohill, swimming at Rocky Bay as part of their fundraiser in aid of Pieta.

30 Bays in 30 days was the theme of another feature this month. Imelda Manning and Ashling Muldowney, friends for 17 years, both teachers, found solace in the sea during challenging times - so decided to launch a fund-raising drive in aid of Pieta.

We also heard this month from Lucy Martin, from Ballygarvan, whose life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. There followed a lengthy stint in hospital and a long road to recovery — but she got there, with the right support.

As well as modern day heroes and inspirations, we also reflected on the past - when a new mural in Kinsale immortalised a legendary female pirate from the town. We found out more about who Anne Bonny was, and how she didn’t conform to the gender norms of the day

AUGUST

After many obstacles and road blocks, a Cork mother to six, four of whom are on the spectrum, Lenore Good climbed Kilimanjaro - she shared her story before and after. This amazing woman has raised thousands for Cork charities.

We spoke to another Cork mum too about the loss of her little girl and how she and her husband are creating a beautiful legacy in their daughter’s memory - The Heart Angel charity is inspired by Béibhinn O’Connor, of Riverstick in Co Cork, who was a much- loved only child and died suddenly aged just nine.

Back to education, this month we interviewed the new head of The Crawford College of Art and Design Rose McGrath.

And as we headed into the school year, we also caught up with a new group called We Care - set up for parents and care-givers, supporting children with additional needs.

SEPTEMBER

The amazing Jade Foley, of Knocknaheeny, made her way onto our TV screens in Glow Up Ireland. She told us of her struggles with anxiety and mental health. She progressed in the competition right up to the semi-finals - we don’t think that’s the last we’ve seen of the young Cork woman.

This month also marked the 40th year of the mini marathon - we asked 40 women for their 40 memories to celebrate the major milestone.

It was so disappointing that we couldn’t have the race again this year - but that didn’t stop people from doing the 6K Your Way.

There’s a new woman at the helm of the Cork School of Music. Ciara Glasheen Artem, 35, from Cobh, took up the post and told us of her hopes for the future.

We had a very inspiring young women share her story with us too, this month, Cork woman Chloe Sheehan, from Donoughmore, who suffers from alopecia.

New businesses continued to spring up throughout the year. We spoke to two sisters who work as cabin crew with Aer Lingus and decided to create their own business during the pandemic, selling foam soaps. Jackie Dillon and Leigh Cummins set up OPA Luxury Hand Soap.

Staying with businesswomen, we interviewed boutique owner, Maeve Dennehy of Love Cherish, about her latest venture - a new clothing line - and her ongoing fund-raising drive in aid of Marymount, in memory of her sister and mum.

Staying with inspirational women, we spoke to Emma Slattery, who has used the services of ARC Cancer Support House to help her through her own cancer journey, and also following the death of her father. She spoke to us as she prepared to take part in The Echo Women’s Virtual Mini Marathon.

Miriam Mullins and boyfriend Tiaan Heyns from Midleton at the Alpine Ice skate trail at Fota. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Miriam Mullins and boyfriend Tiaan Heyns from Midleton at the Alpine Ice skate trail at Fota. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

OCTOBER

Following her appearance on The Late Late Show this month, we spoke with Tik Tok star, Miriam Mullins, who has 1.6 million fans - she started the whole enterprise in her bedroom in Cork during the pandemic.

We also shone a light on a new period campaign at Munster Technological University (MTU) - their new campaign, called Code Red, offers students and staff free access to period products in a bid to tackle period poverty and taboos around the subject.

Claire Hayden at Bantry House, West Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Claire Hayden at Bantry House, West Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

This month is Breast Cancer Awareness month and we spoke to mum of two, Claire Hayden, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. She shared her story having come out the other side - and urged women not to delay getting any symptoms checked out.

One of the most heart-rending stories featured mum Brenda O’Connell Barry, who opened up about the loss of her beautiful son Fionn, aged seven, and how she and her husband are picking up the pieces following his death and trying to keep his memory alive, through their Fight for Fionn campaign.

It was also Menopause Awareness month - we shared interviews from experts as well as women who wanted to tell their personal experiences. Menopause was definitely having a moment in 2021.... let’s hope it continues in 2022 and beyond!

 Michelle Lewis and Carol Murray. Mother Mary is also pictured and baby Julie and Baby Keva.
 Michelle Lewis and Carol Murray. Mother Mary is also pictured and baby Julie and Baby Keva.

NOVEMBER

What a joyful cover this month, when twins recalled their special time together at Cork University Maternity Hospital, after they gave birth to baby girls, just days apart. Michelle Lewis and Carol Murray made the cover with baby Julie and baby Keva.

Victoria Keating, singer/songwriter, in her home. Picture Denis Minihane.
Victoria Keating, singer/songwriter, in her home. Picture Denis Minihane.

We also had a very powerful interview with Cobh woman Victoria Keating, who opened up about giving up alcohol, finding love again and her upcoming solo album, out in December

Staying with music, we also spoke to Cork singer Lyra, who just released her latest single. She spoke to us about pressing pause during the pandemic, her return to the stage, and plans to tour in 2022.

Owner/proprietor Lucia Dzurkova at Art Lab Tattoo. Picture: Larry Cummins.
Owner/proprietor Lucia Dzurkova at Art Lab Tattoo. Picture: Larry Cummins.

To mark the 16 Days of Action campaign this month, we spoke to staff at a tattoo parlour in Cork, Art Lab Tattoo Studio on Patrick’s Quay, who hosted a fundraiser for Cork Sexual Violence Centre.

Back to politics, we caught up with members of Cork City Council’s Women’s Caucus to see how they are bringing about change for women in politics.

We also spoke to the first female firefighter at Cork City Fire Brigade, Irene Wallace, who still has the same passion for the job as she did when she started 27 years ago: “Every day is like the first day on the job, and I say, wow, 27 years later I’m at the top of my game and thankfully, I have a fantastic career.”

Sheila Power, who did a fundraising walk in memory of her husband on December 27. Richard died of Covid earlier this year.
Sheila Power, who did a fundraising walk in memory of her husband on December 27. Richard died of Covid earlier this year.

DECEMBER

This month brought with it all things Christmasy. We featured the founders of the Glanmire Toy Appeal, whic is in its 30th year - what an achievement. Well done, friends Chris and Denis Mulcahy and Ursula Guiney, who came up with the idea.

Also this month, we had the inspiring story of Sheila Power, who is doing a fundraiser on December 27 in memory of her husband Richard, who died from Covid-19, to raise funds for CUH, where he was cared for. She set a goal of €5,000 - and it has surpassed €25,000. You can donate to the Go Fund Me Page at https://gofund.me/37c3a651

Staying with fundraising, we can’t fail to mention the wonderful 72-year-old granny, Mary Lynch, Donoughmore, who abseiled down the tower in Smithfield in aid of Motor Neurone Disease. To donate see https://www.idonate.ie/JulieMaryabseil

Catch up on these features at https://www.echolive.ie/wow/

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