Happy International Women’s Day!
Today we want to give a shout out to all the women who reach out and help improve the lives of all around them.
One such woman is Madge O’Callaghan. Age 67 and born in Cabra West Dublin, Madge has juggled a variety of roles alongside being a lone parent (and grandmother at just 36). She has helped develop advocacy services, worked with people with disabilities and adolescents with mental health issues. She is a trained psychotherapist and has worked with those experiencing domestic violence, addiction and marginalised groups. In 2015 Madge made and won an award for her first radio documentary ‘My Uncle Jack’ for RTÉ.
In recent years Madge has turned her focus to writing. She completed an MA in Creative Writing in 2018, writes poetry and memoir, and facilitates creative writing workshops for older people near to her home in East Clare.
Madge worked with us recently as one of 16 Peer Researchers on our Digital Literacy Access initiative. This research aims to find out more about older people’s access to, and use of, technology and the internet. Our researchers surveyed 900 people in 5 counties, the results of which we hope will inform local authorities and other organisations about the digital needs of older people.
Madge was interested in getting involved in the research project for a variety of reasons, she said: “I’ve been using technology since the ‘80s and knew that I had probably been using it a lot longer than a lot of other people. It’s always fascinated me that people don’t expect me to know how to use technology because of my age. They see the white hair and they assume ‘ah she wouldn’t know anything about that’!”
She hopes that the research will help raise peoples’ awareness of technology, and says: “I hope that more older people will be less afraid of new technology as a result of the work we did.”
Now that most restrictions have been removed, Madge is looking forward to a return to family gatherings (and associated hugs!) and plans to meet with family in Australia soon. She is currently involved in a writing project for the Clare Women’s Network, and intends to facilitate writing workshops and retreats in East Clare in the coming months.
We celebrate Madge and all those who increase the visibility and understanding of those around them, and help make their communities a better place in which to live.