Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

The Covid Grind and the Covid Police

July 20, 2020

Gina Murphy, Hugos Restaurant

Roll those sleeves up, get stuck in and have a great week #WinHappy” is my usual Monday morning tweet, my little mantra, which being honest is as much for myself as it is for anyone else to get into the right frame of mind as we begin another work week.

I’ve been tweeting that since during the last recession and it has served me well.

As I tweeted it this morning I felt like a fraud because I was in an awful mood, which didn’t quite match those words.

Of course it’s this whole Covid thing with a few other run of the mill  “life” things layered on top – nothing serious I promise, but without a doubt there is a little Covid cloud sitting over my head today, as well as this feeling like a grind.

Dee spotting my mood tells me quite rightly to stop arguing with people on Twitter as this is where she sees some of my poor mood coming out – She is right of course, as I get upset reading about the latest idiotic thing that Trump has done and when I increasingly see what I am calling the “Covid Police” – for some reason we have all started finger pointing and judging:

Gina Murphy and Leo Varadkar at her Hugos Restaurant getting lambasted by the social media “hoards” for not sufficiently social distancing in a photo even though she was wearing a visor (she’s a great gal, struggling to make a living in these awful circumstances and has gone to huge lengths and cost to reopen safely). Covid Police..

I had to jump in!

– The Leeds United manager getting lambasted for not setting a “better example” when he went to a person who was in a wheelchair in the crowd who was waiting for him and hugged them – of course it’s not perfect but it was a huge, touching gesture. They have just been promoted to the Premiership, which to devoted fans is an absolutely colossal life moment. Instead of just appreciating the very touching human moment, allowing a spontaneous human reaction in the middle of this Covid grind, we instead jump in, point out the grave error and judge… As I said, Covid Police!

I had to jump in!

– The Professor posting a picture of himself proudly walking around a West Cork town on a sunny afternoon wearing a mask and commenting on the people who aren’t wearing them. Why wear one walking around in the fresh air? I felt this was subtle finger pointing at those of us who are finding this difficult and judging (for the successful months of curve flattening we were told there was no need)

I had to jump in! (This was genuinely a nice interaction but an Irish gal in America jumped in and accused me of all sorts including having no empathy). Covid Police!

This is an extremely difficult time for all of us as we are all processing it differently.

People are confused, people are in fear, people are trying to hold onto some piece of normality, people are trying to find brightness wherever they can get it, people are trying to protect loved ones, people are trying to protect their livelihoods, and people are trying to manage their mental health.

I think it’s really important that we do have empathy and we shouldn’t start finger pointing and judging others at this time as it isn’t easy.

Sean Moncrieff describes feeling a “low level depression” in an article he wrote for the Irish Times a few weeks back, and I get what he is talking about.

We’ve just had our Monday morning catch up call with the team and that interaction has brightened me up as it always does – I’ve taken longer writing this post than I meant to, but I wanted to capture these strange feelings at this weird time so that I can look back later, when we will have hopefully forgotten what it felt like.

Roll those sleeves up, get stuck in, have a great week, be kind….and most importantly, mind yourself

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Long hair and figuring out what “normal” should look like

July 5, 2020

Greg Canty - Long hair version

I had one of those rare, precious things in these very strange COVID19 times – an appointment at the hairdressers!

We are good friends with one of the owners so Dee made an appointment for me and being honest I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it.

I was sitting in the waiting area observing all of the safety procedure signage as the team looked after their clients, all carefully spread out in the salon and all with their face visors or masks on.

Since March, we were all forced to jump off our frantic never ending cycle of life and while we have been busy and have continued to work hard it’s been quite different.

There’s been no face to face meetings, there’s been no travelling and there’s been no wearing of blazers and constant work shirt ironing.

As we all know, simple things like haircuts have been impossible, so at this stage my hair has been longer and bigger (I’m a curly head!!) than it’s been since I was in secondary school. It’s been a bit of a joke with everyone how big it is and I must admit that there is something about it that’s been enjoyable as the circumstances have forced me to go back in time.

While this time has been so unusual, complete with so much worry, sadness and uncertainty it has forced a very different way of living on us and as the restrictions are lifting gradually step by step it starts to close a door on the enforced life and prise open a door to some return to normal, whatever that looks like.

In ways I feel many of the changes were great changes and it would be so good to hold onto the better parts as we move forward.

In my head my impending haircut was taking on some ridiculous and much bigger significance – it was closing the door to that strange time.

After a few moments they were ready for me and as part of their very careful process I had to put on a mask – this is the first time I’ve done this and I couldn’t believe how awful it felt having this covering over my face and nose. I totally get why it’s necessary in these close quarters where everyone must be extremely careful as we emerge from lockdown, but it really felt stifling.  They were saying how awful the masks were for sustained periods while working – god love our medical professionals!

So, what will we do with your hair?” was the question by Kelly.

In my head I just wanted to leave and postpone the haircut so I explained to her that there was something about the long hair that I had enjoyed.

After a chat with Darren they reckoned long was actually quite good, so a little “tidy up” was the order of the day and the big mop of hair will love on for another while at least.

I’m not quite ready to return to normal, at least not until I’ve figured out what I want that to look like.

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

Klopp – The key moment that won the league?

June 28, 2020

Liverpool celebration against West Brom

After the historic winning of the Premiership this week by Liverpool FC, with seven matches still to play there has been a lot of analysis of Jurgen Klopp’s time at the club, with many trying to identify the “key moments” that have contributed to this huge achievement.

As a colossal and very happy Liverpool fan I’ve watched pretty much every press conference, every match including pre-season games and even the odd reserve match and since Klopp took over as manager in 2015 there have been many significant moments.

A new style of play, intensive pre-season training, the signing of some key players and a continuous learning curve have all contributed to incremental success and of course this has resulted in belief and confidence.

However for me, a key factor in this success story is Jurgen Klopp’s deep understanding of psychology – he knows how the mind works and how much this ultimately affects how the players on the pitch can play to their very best, even at times when things have gone wrong in matches and looked certain that a loss was on the cards.

The role of fans or “supporters” is huge in this and he worked on this aspect from the very first minute.

Klopp demonstrated this in his very first press conference when he identified the colossal role that an impatient but huge loyal fan base could play in the success of the team. He shaped expectations that day when he spoke about changing fans from “doubters to believers” and he also started talking about the heavy burden of past successes.

He identified immediately that an impatient, doubting crowd could “infect” the team on the pitch, to the extent that they would be playing nervously, petrified of any mistake – this had become a big problem at home matches in the past.

A month or so later Liverpool were losing at home to Crystal Palace and with five minutes to go fans started to leave the ground – he took a big risk and made a big deal of this after in his press conference.

He spoke about it being a “lonely moment” and the point he was making was very simple – if you want us to win these games, support us to the very end of the match and anything is possible. This was a huge message he was sending to the fans.

This brings me to what I consider as being the biggest moment that has contributed to the success that we have enjoyed in the last few years and it came in December 2015, a few matches after that Crystal Palace game.

We were playing at home against West Brom and with minutes to go were trailing 1-2 against this mid-table team. Burdened with history, me and most other fans were most likely thinking “typical Liverpool“.

Because of the gentle scolding that he had given to fans just weeks earlier they stayed till the end, never gave up and it worked!!

In stoppage time Divock Origi scored an equaliser and the inevitable did not happen – Klopp went wild, the team went wild and the fans went wild. The match finished 2-2.

Drawing at home to West Brom, 2-2 is a poor result for Liverpool but the last minute response when all felt lost warranted a huge celebration.

If you stay with us until the last minute and keep supporting, then anything was possible.

Klopp had coached the fans about what he needed from them and to crystallise this moment he grabbed the team and led a “bowing” session in front of the fans in the famous Kop – this was a huge acknowledgment, a thank you …you got us that goal!!

Klopp was hugely criticised in many quarters for this disproportionate celebration – we drew with West Brom, not won a cup, after all.

The idiot James McLean called Kloppa bit of an idiot“, making this exact point.

Klopp explained what he was up to after in his press conference:

There was a big misunderstanding against West Brom. I wanted to say thank you to the supporters after that game so I took my team towards the Kop to do it and there was a discussion everywhere about it. For me, it was ‘why should we even discuss that?’

“But I had to learn that English people are not used to that kind of thing”

“I wanted to show that we really we are one unit, 100 per cent one unit. That means I know I am responsible for the performance, but the people are responsible for the atmosphere.

“So it should be a win-win situation. When we play well, it’s easy to get the crowd going and when we don’t play well, we need you to encourage us – get on your feet, tell us ‘come on’ – you have to be the stars then.

“I want us to have the best atmosphere in world football and there is no limit to what we can do actually”

From that moment on Liverpool have won so many matches in the last few minutes, when all seemed lost and the fans were there to witness such exhilaration. And at Anfield since then we have pretty much won every single match.

As a fan there is nothing better than that last minute joy and I’ve been lucky to have been at Anfield to witness the incredible end of match atmosphere where we had last minute winners against Borussia Dortmund and Everton, both of which were huge games.

LIverpool celebration against Barcelona

Last season there was a similar celebration when we incredibly beat the mighty Barcelona, 4-0 on the way to winning the Champions League.

That gesture against West Brom in December 2015 was the moment we won the league..

How much does the right mentality matter in your business?

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grrrrrr…..Great Presentation

May 31, 2020

Bert

This week in the middle of the Covid lockdown we found ourselves presenting to a really great prospect, one of those who was thankfully staying positive at this time and looking for ways to engage with their target audiences.

We had a briefing meeting with them before the lockdown, we got a really deep understanding of their business and the challenges, we brainstormed with the team and we had written a good solid plan with a mix of tactics and some new initiatives that would deliver their objectives.

As with all other meetings at this time we were presenting to the prospect via Zoom with me in my room (the kitchen!), Deirdre in hers (the music room), one of the other team members in their home and the prospect in theirs.

Little does anyone know, but when Dee starts work each day in this lockdown period the two dogs, Honey and Bert wait patiently and when she heads into the room to take her space on the couch, each of them follows suit and chooses a space at either side of her and relaxes for the day, not making a peep except for the intrusion of the postman or delivery man – little Bert lets them know in no uncertain terms that he is the “protector” of this house!

At this stage the two dogs have sat through numerous team meetings, webinars, client presentations and I believe they are the first dogs to attend the Cork Chamber board meeting – that took 200 years to happen!

Anyhow, we were presenting to this prospect and Dee with buckets of professionalism and enthusiasm led the charge through the very detailed proposal – the problem as we saw it, the tactics that we were recommending that should be employed and the “BIG Driving Idea” that we felt would really make this business stand out.

As Dee presented the “BIG idea” she was getting very enthusiastic and animated and as one does her hands were moving accordingly.

Just like the prospect, I and my other colleague were watching Dee on screen and listening to her but we could both hear a very definite “Grrrrrrrrr….. sound”, which was quite unusual.

It was Bert, our gorgeous rescue dog who without doubt was walloped badly in the early stages of his life and since then he gets very protective when he sees hands coming over him.

Dee, quite oblivious because she was lost in the presentation continued with her enthusiastic delivery and again we heard another very definite “Grrrrrr……“.

At this point I had to tell Dee to stop moving her hands around as poor Bert who was alongside her, out of screen shot, could be heard quite clearly pitching in!!

The prospect didn’t mind at all, and if anything it made everything a little more real and genuine.

This Covid lockdown time has been quite unusual and it has asked a lot from all of us. It has made us all very far apart, and in very strange ways it has also brought us very close together, maybe too close!

A big thanks to that prospect, to our team and to everyone else, who despite the awful circumstances made a decision to drive forward and still do positive things when the opposite could have been the easiest thing to do.

During the last recession I found myself using this word a lot….#Positivity

It’s time to get back to it!

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

HR – A story of two very different team philosophies

April 27, 2020

HR in a crisis

We all know the story .. on the 12th March, the country was effectively shut down except for essential services.

It was a time when each and every single employer in the country had to figure out really quickly what they needed to do to protect the business during this uncertain shut down period – how long would it go on for, how many bills do I have, how much money do I have in the kitty, how much do I need to survive?

All huge questions and with no simple answers and no playbook to refer to.

What we did next reflects who we are, who the business is, our values, our ethos.

A week later, I checked in on a good friend of mine who worked as a baker in a coffee shop (part of a  small but well known chain) around the corner from our office, just to make sure that he was OK.

What he shared with me was a tale of two very different HR philosophies and two very different approaches to their employees.

On exactly the same day he was given notice by his employer and his partner who manages a creche was also told that her place of business was closing because of the “lock-down”.

However, there was a huge difference between both.

In his case he was “left go”, unceremoniously with no guidance towards where he should go to for supports and no word as to what his status would be when this “pause” was over. Effectively it was a P45.

In her case, she was also left go temporarily, but with absolute clarity that her role would still be there when things returned to normal, she was guided towards the supports she needed and the employer set up a WhatsApp group so that the team could stay in touch during the lock-down.

While both of these scenarios were identical, they couldn’t be any further apart.

I have sadly heard of so many cases where loyal employees were just cast away on the 12th March, with virtually no concern as to how they would put food on their tables next week.

Your team are your business, and how you treat them will absolutely determine how successful your business will be and how deep your team will dig for you when needed.

When the lights come back on, I know of a great guy and all of his colleagues who will be looking for a new opportunity, and I know of a great gal and all of her colleagues who be delighted to get back to work and will dig deep for their employer when the chips are down.

What type of employer are you?

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Valuable Business Supports available from the Local Enterprise Offices

April 15, 2020

What a hard to believe, crazy time that we are all knee deep in!

For some it is incredibly busy, coping with fulfilling unprecedented demand in difficult circumstances, for some it is somewhat damaging and messy and for others this “pause” is devastating and real solutions are needed for immediate survival and to plan for a much needed return to some type of normal.

The Local Enterprise Office network has implemented a suite of support services to assist businesses at this time.

We would urge you to look carefully at these valuable supports, not only to assist you right now, but also to make your business stronger going into the future.

There are 31 Local Enterprise Offices around the country, all offering these additional supports:

A support we have found to be hugely beneficial for businesses throughout the years is the Trading Online Voucher Scheme

A second voucher is now available for businesses that have previously availed of this support over the years. Having a strong online presence has never been more important, so whether it’s improving your website and online shop to creating an app, we strongly advise you to check this out.

The Trading Online Voucher can also be used to support the below:

  • Website Creation
  • Digital Marketing
  • Social Media for Business
  • Search Engine Optimisation

To find more about the online trading voucher and the eligibility criteria visit www.localenterprise.ie and contact your local office.

If we can assist you to put a practical plan together in any of these areas give us a call and we will do everything we can to help.

As well as the Trading Online Voucher, there is a range of different supports available to businesses impacted by COVID-19.

An overview of all supports available:

Trading Online Voucher Scheme
Second voucher available

 

Can you do more business online?

The expanded Trading Online Voucher Scheme helps small businesses with up to 10 employees to trade more online, boost sales and reach new markets.

There is up to €2,500 available through the Local Enterprise Offices, with co-funding of 10% from the business. Funding can be used towards adding payment facilities or booking systems to your website or developing new apps for your customers.

The voucher can also be used towards subscriptions to low cost online retail platform solutions, to help companies quickly establish a retailing presence online.

 

Business Continuity Vouchers 
Apply for €2,500 in consultancy

The new Business Continuity Voucher is designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people.

The voucher is worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs (at no cost to the company) and can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the business challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The goal is to help companies make informed decisions about what immediate measures and remedial actions should be taken, to protect staff and sales.

If we can be of assistance, please contact us and we will talk through the challenges you are facing.

LEO Financial Supports 
Grants for new and established businesses

 

COVID-19
Business Loans  

First 6 months are interest & repayment free
New low rate of 4.5% through the Local Enterprise Offices

The COVID-19 Business Loan from Microfinance Ireland (MFI), in partnership with Local Enterprise Offices, is a Government-funded initiative to support small businesses.

It’s designed for micro-enterprises that are a) having difficulty accessing Bank finance and b) impacted, or may be impacted negatively, by COVID-19 resulting in a reduction of 15% or more in turnover or profit.

To view loan features click here.

 

Lean for Micro
Become a Leaner business

LEAN for Micro is available to LEO clients to help build resilience within small companies.

Under this programme, clients can avail of consultancy support with a LEAN Expert (a qualified practitioner), who will work with the company to introduce lean principles, undertake a specific cost savings project and assist the company in benchmarking its performance. LEAN for Micro can also be used to help implement new remote working and physical distancing guidelines.

 

Mentoring Advice and guidance
Now free of charge 

Grants for new and established businesses

 
Under the Local Enterprise Office Mentor Programme, clients work with an experienced mentor to identify solutions to areas of exposure within their business. With advice and guidance from their mentor, clients develop strategies that are more robust, which address issues and maximise potential opportunities when the COVID-19 crisis comes to an end.
 

Training and Webinars 
Upskill and network remotely,
for free

Local Enterprise Offices have moved training programmes, workshops and networking meet-ups online, covering areas such as cash management in a crisis, leading your business through COVID-19 and advice for employers impacted by the crisis.

Training programmes are free of charge and places can be booked online, through your Local Enterprise Office.

 

LEO Financial Supports 
Grants for new and established businesses

For existing companies and potential start-ups that meet eligibility criteria (such as employing 10 or fewer people with the potential for growth and job creation), Local Enterprise Offices can also offer financial supports to help manage current market challenges:

  • Business Priming Grants
  • Business Expansion Grants
  • Feasibility Study Grants
  • Technical Assistance for Micro-Exporters Grant

To view the full details on the supports available to your business and the criteria visit: www.localenterprise.ie/Response.

Depending on how the situation evolves, criteria may change so please refer to the above website for updates.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can offer you advice during these difficult timesand try to stay positive and seriously think about using these supports, for today and a much better tomorrow….it will come!

Best wishes from all at Fuzion.

Greg

(086) 8311156 greg@fuzion.ie  

Greg Canty is the Managing Partner of Fuzion Communications, Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing, Dublin and Cork offices

Les Martin and the mission to detect rare diseases

March 3, 2020

 

Les Martin - Rare Diseases

Les…never in your wildest dreams did you think you would end up on stage talking to a room full of women in Wicklow on a Friday afternoon as part of the International Women’s Day celebrations organised by Network Ireland.

I was the only other brave man there but for very different reasons.

When your son Cathal was born, I’m sure you and your wife Lynda were excited beyond belief, but then life threw him the ultimate unlucky straw and he was faced with a short life with a debilitating condition, which could have been treated if only extensive tests were done at birth, as they do routinely in Italy.

This dad never planned on standing in front of this group of women on this Friday, appealing for help and telling a personal story to hopefully help other babies to avoid the cruel path that their family has endured.

Les stood on stage, he shared his family photos, he showed us some charts to explain how this problem could be solved in Ireland, he showed us some more photos and he took us though some of the very painful steps that they have been though together.

He wasn’t a polished speaker, he didn’t have a polished presentation, he was just a dad who stood there and bravely opened his heart and asked for our attention, so that life might be better for someone else down the line.

Les had every woman on their feet when he finished his talk and there were tears in every single eye in the house, including mine.

Les Martin, brave dad, I salute you and I’m sorry that this had to be your Friday….

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Les is campaigning for more extensive testing to be done on babies when they are born. The Irish ‘Heel’ test is done for 9 conditions – in Italy they test for 40 conditions which can help teh early detection and treatment of rare diseases. 

 

Waiting for your “Purpose” to reveal itself

February 16, 2020

Greg Canty - Sense of Purpose

Once again you find yourself having this conversation quietly in your head.

I want to make a huge difference on this earth, I want to live a life with Real Purpose” but…..

…you have absolutely no idea what that purpose is !!

Well, instead of getting yourself all frustrated, how about channelling these thoughts and that positive intent in a very different and very achievable way.

How about choosing a number of people in your life who may be in need of help, a boost, a little support, some encouragement and quietly make them your purpose and without saying a word, give them exactly that.

Maybe it’s a family member, a buddy, a work colleague, or a neighbour who is struggling, who has gone off track for whatever reason and needs something from someone to make this time a little easier.

You can be that someone, and you might just be able to get them back on track.

While you are waiting to find your purpose how about being there for that other person so they might be better able to find theirs.

And if your “purpose” never knocks on your door, then maybe it’s not so bad as you have helped a lot of people along the way just when they needed it …. isn’t that a pretty good purpose to have?

Who are you going to help today?

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

When ‘How About’ and ‘Why Not’ come together

December 21, 2019

Emerald Ivory at The White Horse

A really talented musician said “How about” to a bunch of talented musicians who answered “Why not” to an idea about performing classic Irish songs together

Someone said “How about” doing a gig before Christmas at the venue Upstairs at the The White Horse Bar and Restaurant in Ballincollig, Cork and someone said “Why not“.

I saw the gig listing when trying to figure out something special to do belatedly for our wedding anniversary (too busy with client events!) and asked Dee “How about” and she said “Why not“.

Needless to say the debut gig of Emerald Ivory was really special and we had a great night.

To do anything new and discover magic in life we need two essential ingredients:

Someone to ask “How about

and someone to say “Why not“.

Are you one of those people?

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Mary Elmes, Cork’s bravest woman?

October 20, 2019
Prats-de-Mollo_Childrens_Home

Residents of the War Resisters’ International home in the French Pyrenees at Prats-de-Mollo, housing refugees from the Spanish Civil War

I’ve just finished editing and publishing the Win Happy podcast episode that I recorded with Clodagh Finn, author of “A time to risk all” and Deirdre Waldron, former president of Network Ireland, about the incredible life of the very much unknown Cork woman, Mary Elmes.

(Note: In 2016, having heard about Mary through the Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty Memorial Committee work, Deirdre in her role as President chose Mary Elmes for the Trish Murphy, Network Ireland Award, the first time it was given posthumously and the first time she was acknowledged in Ireland)

As I was listening to the podcast I was very close to tears when I heard Clodagh describe that moment when one of the children, Charlotte Berger-Greneche saved by Mary Elmes, saw a picture of her mother for the first time when she was 80 years of age.

Clodagh who is incredibly knowledgeable and clearly passionate about Mary Elmes, brings her story to life in the episode and I feel in some ways listening to her, that the spirit of Mary has changed her.

Charlotte Berger-Greneche and Georges Koltei

We were privileged to meet two of these children, Charlotte Berger-Greneche and Georges Koltei (pictured above with Mary’s son Patrick Danjou (on the left of the image)) who were saved by Mary from prison camps in France during World War 2.

They were in Cork city recently for the opening of the new bridge that was named in her honour.

Mary Elmes saved 432 children during the Spanish Civil War and World War 2.

Article by Eoin English, Irish Examiner

Article by Barry Roche, Irish Times

There was a beautiful and very poignant quote by her son, Patrick during the bridge opening:

“I think it’s better to have a bridge than a wall, like some friends of ours in America want to do”

Until very recently this story was one that very few people knew, including Mary’s own family – humble people do what they need to do in a huge time of need and then quietly go about their lives after.

Note: Paddy Butler has also written a book about Mary Elmes “The Extraordinary life of Mary Elmes: The Irish Oskar Schindler”

Mary_Elmes

About Mary

Mary Elmes was born on 5 May 1908 in Cork, Ireland to chemist Edward Elmes and Elizabeth Waters. Edward ran a pharmacy on Winthrop Street. The Elmes family went on to be a very prominent one in the business landscape of the city (The building where MacDonalds is located was an Elmes property).

She attended Rochelle School in Cork and in 1928 enrolled at Trinity College Dublin where she was elected a Scholar, and gained a first in Modern Literature (French and Spanish).

As a result of her academic achievements, she was awarded a scholarship in International Studies to study at London School of Economics and then a further scholarship  in Geneva, Switzerland.

In 1937, she joined the University of London Ambulance Unit and was sent to a children’s hospital in Almeria in then war-torn Spain. She worked in hospitals as an administrator and carer and also helped  in homes looking after children (see picture above). She then moved to France during World War 2.

When it became clear that Jewish children were not legally allowed to be exempt from being sent to the concentration camps, as they had been, Mary, with the help from some colleagues, started to rescue children, taking them to safe houses or helping them flee the country altogether.

Stop for a momentCan you imagine as a parent, making a decision to hand your children over to someone else, in the full knowledge that you would never see them again and this was the only chance of them having a life?

It is a chilling and heartbreaking thought.

Well aware that she was putting herself at risk, she rescued many children by hiding them in the boot of her car and drove them to safe destinations and aided many others by securing documents, which allowed for them to escape through the undercover network in Vichy France.

While she was not a Quaker herself, she worked actively with local Quaker organisations and was often  described as the “head of the Quaker delegation at Perpignan,”.

In 1943, Mary was arrested and was imprisoned in Toulouse and later was moved to the notorious Fresnes Prison run by the Gestapo near Paris, where she spent six months. She was never charged, but when she was released she continued her work with children in prison camps.

Note: In the podcast listen to Clodagh talking about an old blanket that Mary Elmes kept from that prison.

After the war she married and had two children, and lived in Pyrénées-Orientales (Northern Catalonia),

She became the first Irish person to be named Righteous Among the Nations during a ceremony at Israel’s official memorial to Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Note: Despite gathering the requisite proof that he saved Jews we have been unable to achieve this honour for Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty.

She passed away in 2002, one month before her 93rd birthday.

If you have the time you might click here to listen to the podcast, maybe read Clodagh’s or Paddy’s excellent books and even better, walk across the beautiful bridge in Cork and think about the bravery of a very special woman, Mary Elmes.

Bridges are better than walls…

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland