March 8th 2023

Title ‘A Time to Risk All’
Speaker: Clodagh Finn
Time: @ 7:45 PM
Location: Iona Pastoral Centre

Mary Elmes: image from Clodagh Finn’s book ‘A Time to Risk All’

Book Introduction


Clodagh Finn has travelled throughout Europe to piece together the story of this remarkable, unknown Irish woman, meeting many of those children Mary Elmes saved. Here, in a book packed with courage, heroism, adventure and tragedy, her story is finally remembered.

The children called her ‘Miss Mary’, and they remember her kindness still. She gave them food and shelter and later risked her life to help them escape the convoys bound for Auschwitz.

Turning her back on a brilliant academic career, Mary Elmes ventured into a war zone to help children in the Spanish Civil War. In 1939, she fled Franco’s forces but continued to work with refugees in France when the Second World War broke out. In 1942, when it became evident that Jews were being deported to their deaths, she smuggled children to safety in the boot of her car. She was arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo, but went straight back to work after her release.

When the war was over, Mary married and settled down, never speaking about what she had done. Her story was forgotten. In A Time to Risk All her remarkable story is finally remembered as it should be.

From left: Patrick Danjou, son of Mary Elmes; Charlotte Berger-Greneche; Clodagh Finn, journalist and author; Georges Koltein and Sally and John Wilkes at the ceremony to mark the official opening of Cork’s newest bridge, the Mary Elmes Bridge on Sept. 27, 2019.
The bridge was named in memory of Mary, who, along with co-workers, rescued over 400 children from deportation to Auschwitz from a holding camp in South West France.
Pic: Brian Lougheed

Please click on any image below to open a photo gallery.

About the Author
Excerpt from:

Clodagh Finn
Photo by Nick Bradshaw.

Author Clodagh Finn has always been inspired by stories, particularly around the landscape that she grew up in, in Kerry. Her family, particularly her dad and her Auntie Mary, were wonderful storytellers and it was perhaps because of their gift of the gab that Clodagh became more fascinated by story writing.

‘They brought the places we visited to life with tales of haunted castles and piseogs but they also told the real stories of shipwrecks and missing treasure, ancient saints and holy wells, sacred places and others marred by massacre and cruelty,’ she tells me.

Writing and reading became more than just hobbies and Clodagh went on to study journalism in Dublin. She worked as a journalist for the Irish Examiner, the Sunday Independent, the Irish Independent and as a freelance writer and editor in Paris.

Recent publication

Through Her Eyes
by Clodagh Finn

Told through the prism of the lives of 21 extraordinary women, this remarkable book offers an alternative vision of Irish history – one that puts the spotlight on women whose contributions have been forgotten or overlooked.

From a Stone Age farmer who lived in Co. Clare more than 5,000 years ago to the modern-day founder of a 3D printing company, this book opens a fascinating window onto the life and times of some amazing women whose stories were shaped by the centuries in which they lived.


October 12th 2022

Title ‘The Country House as an Object of Curiosity’
Speaker: Dr. Patricia McCarthy
Time: @ 7:45 PM Apx. – N.B. The A.G.M. starts @ 7:30 PM
Location: Iona Pastoral Centre

Patricia is an architectural historian.  She has published widely in a number of  publications such as the Irish Georgian Society, Country Life and the Irish Arts Review. She has published 4 books, the most recent one published by the Four Courts Press is titled ‘Enjoying Claret in Ireland: a History of Amiable Excess’. She has contributed to two volumes of the Royal Irish Academy’s Art and Architecture of Ireland (2014).

P.S. At the meeting on 12 October at 7.30 p.m. we start with our A.G.M. – Subs for the coming year, more anon when the committee have had the opportunity of meeting. If anyone has a motion for the A.G.M. let me know before next weekend (8th Oct.).

This should be a great evening. Hoping to see you all there.

One Example of Patricia McCarthy’s Books:
Life in the Country House in Georgian Ireland
Publication date: 24th May 2016
ISBN: 9780300218862
Price: Hardcover €114.06; Paperback €27.09 via Amazon


For aristocrats and gentry in 18th-century Ireland, the townhouses and country estates they resided in were carefully constructed to accommodate their cultivated lifestyles. Based on new research from Irish national collections and correspondence culled from papers in private keeping, this book provides a vivid and engaging look at the various ways in which families tailored their homes to their personal needs and preferences. While remarkably flexible, these houses were arranged in accordance with their residents’ daily practices, demonstrating a distinction between public and private spaces, and the roles and arrangements of the servants in their purposeful layouts. With careful consideration given to both the practicality of everyday routine and the occasional special event, this book illustrates how the lives and houses of these people were inextricably woven together.

Dr Patricia McCarthy is an independent architectural historian based in Dublin.

About the Author:

Image: Dr. Patricia McCarthy

Trinity College Dublin
Bachelor of Arts, the History of Art and Architecture; Classical CivilisationBachelor of Arts.
PhD awarded in 2009: Dept. of the History of Art and Architecture thesis entitled: ‘The Planning, Layout and Use of Space in Irish Houses 1730 – 1830’.

University College Dublin
Diploma, History of European Painting

September 14th 2022

Title ‘Ireland’s Special Branch’
Speaker: Gerard Lovett
Time: @ 7:45 PM
Location: Iona Pastoral Centre

Gerard Lovett will speak to us about the content of his new book: Ireland’s Special Branch (see details below)

The book will be available to purchase. Helen Dunne of Wordwell, the publishers, will be there with books for sale on the night. The price is €20.00. This book took long years of research so congratulations are due to Gerard on his achievement.

This will be a live talk at the Iona Centre so please make a special effort to attend. The meeting starts at 7.45 p.m. Admission for members is €3 and for visitors €5. A Cupán Tae will follow. The AGM will be in October and is also the time for renewal of subs.

Hoping to see you all,


Ireland’s Special Branch: The inside story of their battle with the IRA and other groups 1922-1947.

Publication date: August 2022
ISBN: 978-1-913934-29-3
Price: €20

“A gang of police thugs.”

“Renegades and perverted types.”

These were just some of the ways in which the men and women of the Garda Special Branch were described by their enemies within the anti-Treaty IRA. What follows in this work is the gripping narrative of the often brutal and violent struggle for supremacy between these two sides.

It explores the foundation and the inner workings of a squad of detectives, initially called the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), based in Oriel House, Dublin, in August 1922 and their transition into what became known as the Special Branch. It further details the history of the turbulent decades which followed, and the regular confrontations with the IRA in which many officers of Ireland would make the ultimate sacrifice. 

About the Author:

Gerard Lovett is a retired member of An Garda Síochána and retired as a detective inspector in the Garda Special Branch in 2004. Since then, he was general secretary of the Garda Síochána Retired Members’ Association for seven years and was editor of their quarterly magazine Síocháin. He has written numerous articles on police history and has regularly given lectures to historical societies on both garda and RIC history, as well as famous historical murder cases.