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Mary Neylon oon the family farm. Photograph by John Kelly.

Kilmurry McMahon wives on the move

Clare ICA is to spearhead a countywide survey to determine the scale of population movement in parishes.

At a meeting in Doonbeg last week, which was organised to examine the role of rural women in the West Clare community, Clare ICA PRO, Mary Neylon said a count she carried out in June found that 92% of married women in Kilmurry McMahon came from outside that part of the parish.

Ms Neylon was one of the speakers at the West Clare Family Resource Centre-organised meeting, which heard from several people on the challenges facing women in the county.

The meeting heard that, while these figures pertained to one community of 165 households, it is likely that other parishes in West Clare would have comparable figures. In 19% of cases, both spouses had settled in the community, having moved from elsewhere. Ms Neylon feels if a bigger count or survey was carried out in Clare, the findings could be revealing.

“I think it would be very interesting. It needn’t be the ICA. Any community could do it, even if it was to record a particular moment in time.“I’m not sure that any community would have a proportion of that type but it would be interesting to record the proportion. I would love it if community groups were interested in recording it. As I said, it would be a picture of a moment in time. I’m sure that 50 or 60 years ago, it would have been different,” she said.

Mary Neylon moved to Kilmurry McMahon from Kilkishen when she got married.

“It’s a generation and a half ago. I think rural communities are extremely welcoming to new people. I found that. Sometimes new people coming in might find it hard to believe that, particularly if they have come from a large urban community. My experience has been that the rural community that I moved into was extremely welcoming and accepting, it allowed you the space to develop whatever way you wanted,” she said.

“Anybody coming into a place is going to bring a new energy. Anybody who is coming in from outside is new and brings ideas, regardless if they are a man or a woman. They have lived somewhere else and they have experienced different things. The majority of men here are indigenous and probably mightn’t have lived anywhere else. When I said that at the meeting in Doonbeg, there was a knowing response,” Mary Neylon added.

She believes that some expectations are slightly different for a woman moving to a new rural community, than is the case for a man.

“The women’s loyalties are automatically expected to change. For example, if you have grown up in Kilmurry McMahon and you get married to someone from Doonbeg, you’re expected to support the Doonbeg team when you go there. Even if you have been a supporter of your own home team, there is an implication that you will now support your new parish. It’s the implications and the presumed processes that interest me. The husband is also expected to fully support his own team. Fellas will travel for a match from Dublin or Limerick but the women are expected to give their support to their husband’s team,” she maintains.

Perhaps one of the reasons behind women relocating to their husband’s community, when marrying, is down to their spouse inheriting land.

“I was speaking to someone about this and they said it was all to do with inheritance. That was the angle she took on it. That didn’t occur to me,” Mary Neylon concluded.

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