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24 September 2009 Edition

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Women's voices loud and clear

DVD Review
The Road of Women: Voices of Irish Women Political Prisoners
Directed and produced by Melissa Thompson
Price €10

By Sorcha Berry

Melissa Thompson’s The Road of Women: Voices of Irish Women Political Prisoners is an astonishing, heartbreaking, honest and articulate documentary about women’s roles in the Republican Movement during the Irish war against Britain of the late 1960’s and onwards. Told by ex-POW’s Ella O’Dwyer, Martina Anderson, Roseleen Walsh and human rights activist Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, we are given a first-hand account of their time spent in prison, and what motivated them to become republican freedom fighters.
Thompson, using a voiceover coupled with real footage of protests and police brutality, successfully shows the political and social landscape of the time, which provides an even better understanding of the situations that spawned these revolutionaries. The use of eerie music and footage of Kilmainham Jail and Armagh Prison and letters that various incarcerated women wrote while in prison create a cold atmosphere and evoke a feeling of sympathy and understanding for the ex-prisoners.
Focusing on a handful of women, Thompson allows the viewer to become familiar with them and relies on their words to paint a picture of their lives and their time in jail, suffering through horrendous abuses of power and a disgraceful lack of respect given by the authorities in both England and the North. However, the film shows how the women did not let the prison system break their spirit but, in contrast, made them fight for better treatment for themselves and others who were incarcerated at that time.
Each woman interviewed displays an amazing and awe-inspiring courage and bravery when talking about their time in jail. The role of women in republicanism has always been vastly undervalued, and this succeeds completely in showing that their contribution to the struggle is invaluable. This is definitely a must see for people from all walks of life, especially for young republican women, so that they can see how the sacrifices made by the ex-POW’s have paved the way for future generations of men and women to live in a more peaceful Ireland. It is an extremely vivid depiction of history that should be cherished by anyone who watches it.

• Limited number of copies of The Road of Women is available from: Sinn Féin Bookshop, 58 Parnell Square, Dublin 1.

courageous and brave: Ex-POWs Ella O’Dwyer and Martina Anderson 


An Phoblacht Magazine


  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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