Robin Hanan has a long assocation with Comhlámh, currently he is sitting on our board and ahead of tonight’s launch of the Dympna Meaney fund he shares some memories.
It is commonplace to eulogise someone after they die, especially when they die young.
In Dympna Meaney’s case, her death was made more tragic by thefact that she really was such an inspiration to so many people in her lifetime, as one of the pioneers of development education in Ireland and as a passionate activist. She exemplified that rare combination of the personal and political which Comhlamh seems to attract.
I will always associate Dympna with this song.
A few days before her death, a few of us sat up talking after a friend’s wedding (the local B and B owner kindly let us leave Maeve, aged less than one, asleep in her bed). This is one of the songs that Dympna sang that night.
At the time it seemed forward looking. Now, I would hope that it’s sentiments have become mainstream.
A few days later, we got a copied tape in the post of Roy Bailey songs with a note from Dympna saying ‘Maeve needs to grow up with these songs’.
The next day, I was going from my civil service office to spend my lunch-break in the Nicaragua Support Group, which was shared with Comhlámh, as I did most days. I thought of dropping in to the National Youth Council, where Dympna was working on the Development Education for Youth (DEFY) programme to thank her, but decided to drop in on the way back instead. When I arrived in Comhlámh, the office was in shock at the news of Dympna’s death.
One of her friends sang this song at her funeral.
Of course, Maeve grew up with it, as did Eoin who had not been born at the time.
A few years later, when I left the civil service to work for Comhlámh and had the privilege of writing the organisation’s history for its 21st anniversary, I got a more complete view of Dympna’s extraordinary contribution to Irish development education.
Tonight’s launch of Comhlámh’s Dympna Meaney Women’s Leadership Development Fund, on the initiative of three of her good friends from the time, is a fitting memorial.