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The launch of the month-long Our Wicklow Women exhibition at Greystones Library got off to a very fine start last night with a talk by noted judge and author Liz Goldthorpe.

And the talk itself was about one of three remarkable Greystones women, the mighty Averil Deverell, Ireland’s first female barrister.

We had hoped to catch the talk, having had a fair oul’ chinwag about Averil with local historian Rosemary Raughter last week, but, we had to interview those Greystones Rowing Club feckers instead.

So, we caught the aftermath, as the wine, the wit and the Rizlas flowed. To get a taste of the night, we called on the bould Rosemary…

Tonight’s celebration by Greystones Archaeological & Historical Society of the Our Wicklow Women exhibition at Greystones Library began with O Riada and ended with an account by researcher Liz Goldthorpe of her pursuit of longtime Greystones resident and pioneering barrister, Averil Deverell.

Speaking to a packed audience, GAHS chairperson Rosemary Raughter outlined the background to the exhibition, devised by Wicklow County Council Heritage Department to coincide with last year’s women’s suffrage centenary, and acknowledged the contribution of the various researchers who contributed to the project, who included members of historical societies from across the county.

Cormac Breathnach’s haunting version of Sean O Riada’s ‘Mna na hEireann’ paid tribute not only to those included in the exhibition but to the very many others whose stories have still to be told, while Liz Goldthorpe offered a sparkling account of Averil Deverell’s Greystones background, her WW1 service, and her assault on the male citadel of the Law Library, to become the first woman to practice at the Bar in Ireland. Dashing from Greystones into town in her souped-up Triumph Herald, Averil cut an impressive figure as she insouciantly shattered one glass ceiling after another. Her achievements, all but forgotten in her final years, are now acknowledged as marking a decisive step forward in women’s and in legal history.

The evening ended with a wine reception, much chat and more revelations about the redoubtable Averil’s life in Greystones, which will certainly find their way into Liz’s forthcoming biography.

Running until the end of August, you can find out more about Our Wicklow Women here, and details of upcoming Greystones Archaeological & Historical Society shenanigans here.

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