On the Road with Mamo (or, Dammit She Tried)

is a verite-style road movie starring Mamo McDonald, a nationally known older and rural  women's activist, community historian, and mother of eleven, who takes us on a tour of her town, Clones, County Monaghan, on the border of Northern Ireland. 

Speeding along the back roads and laneways, she tells the story of the women lacemakers who turned the town around in the wake of the Famine but whose artistic and economic contribution to the area has never been properly recognized.  In fact, she has discovered through her research that these women were often exploited by the traders and dealers of lace: "Many of them worked at lace all their lives and never made anything out of it." 

Turning to more recent history, she also details the disastrous impact of the closing of the Northern roads on the town, and specifically on her life and family's small business. "Here's one of these little bridges that I was telling you about, that were blown up by the British army.  You're in the North now, and then the other bridge you're back in the Republic... There were a few towns that suffered much more than others.  We were so close up against the border itself that two-thirds of our customer base, we lost it... We kept trying putting money into it, seeing could we save it... but it just didn't work."

Mamo's amazing life spans from the age of the marriage bar - "Ours was the generation who were the docile ones; we accepted whatever was dished out to us" - to the 70s women's movement - "I became more radicalized, and I sometimes describe myself as a born again feminist."

25 minutes

related transcripts:
1. Interview with Mamo MacDonald, September, 1998, Age & Opportunity office, Dublin
2. Interview with Mamo MacDonald, November, 1998, Clones, Co. Monaghan (in progress)

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