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Brave and Bold at the RDS!

Members of Irish Girl Guides celebrated inspirational women from past and present at the ‘Brave and Bold: The Women Who Made Me’ event in the RDS that IGG co-hosted with the International Literature Festival Dublin and Children’s Books Ireland.

Clodagh (10) of Millmount Guides, Drogheda, Holly (11) of Boherbue Guides, Cork, and Wexford Brownie Leader Gillian McMillan joined well-known authors, journalists, an artist and a politician on stage as well as 16-year-old award-winning entrepreneur and IGG Ambassador Katie Madden.

Gillian talked about her grandmother, Emily McEachern, as a woman who had greatly inspired her. Ms McEachern was the first woman in Ireland to qualify as a dentist. She graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons in 1925 and set up a family dental practice in Wicklow. Gillian said: “I like to think Granny has passed on to me her legacy of strength and determination. And I strive to do the same with my two children and through my volunteering with Irish Girl Guides. To keep going in the face of adversity – now that is truly inspiring.”

Holly talked about the US suffragette Susan B Anthony. She said Anthony inspired her because she had played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement in the US at a time when it was not fashionable to advocate for women’s rights.

Clodagh talked about her violin teacher, Heather Oakes. “I have been going to her since I was seven years old,” said Clodagh. “She inspires me to have confidence on stage and not to be afraid to play in front of people, like the way I felt when I first started. She has also helped me take part in Feis Ceoils, music recitals and complete two exams, all of which I have really enjoyed because of her fun way of teaching me. Most of all, Heather has taught me that I can achieve anything with hard work and dedication.”

The other speakers included Senator Ivana Bacik, journalist Róisín Ingle, artist Kate Pankhurst, author Sinéad Moriarty and young businesswoman and Transition Year student, Annie Madden of FenuHealth.

Annie spoke about Maria Cahalane, Head of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, who she described as one of the biggest influences on women in STEM in Ireland.

Jillian van Turnhout, former Chief Commissioner of Irish Girl Guides, introduced the event and the chair was writer and journalist Sinéad Gleeson.

The event celebrated brave and bold girls and women everywhere – businesswomen, artists, politicians and women from their own families – and encouraged the many girls in the audience to become trail blazers and world changers.

Sarah Webb, Children’s Programmer with the International Literature Festival Dublin, said: “We were delighted to team up with Irish Girls Guides and welcome them to the RDS for our ‘Brave and Bold’ event. Our panel spoke about the centenary of votes for women and women’s role in shaping Ireland.”