By DFAT Historian-in-Residence Dr Angela Byrne
Welcome to the first of my monthly posts! My role as Historian-in-Residence at EPIC is varied and allows me to work on many exciting projects: researching fascinating past lives, communicating their stories to the wider public, and collaborating with passionate historians, scientists, and creative professionals.
September has been a busy month!
In the first week, I wrote a piece for the Irish Times Abroad digital edition’s ‘Extraordinary Emigrants’ series about one of my favourite Irishwomen in history – Cork-born Martha Wilmot, who spent over five years living in Russia with Princess Dashkova, one of the most important women in Enlightenment Europe. Wilmot was a great letter-writer and diarist who endured heartbreak, shipwreck, the Napoleonic Wars and the death of her pet dog during those five years. I first started studying Martha in 2003, and fifteen years later I am still fascinated by her.
I was also lucky enough to have a few days off this month, and chose to spend them in northern Italy.
I had another very exciting experience to look forward to when I got back. Dr Niamh Shaw, the amazing engineer, actor, science communicator and space explorer, invited me to take part in her upcoming 6-part radio series, ‘Curious Minds’. It’s funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and will be aired later this year on RTE Radio 1 extra. Niamh and I spent a fantastic afternoon in RTE studios talking about six of our favourite Irish scientists and explorers from the past. Want to know who they are? Stay tuned for more details!
As if that wasn’t all enough excitement for one month, September ended on a real high as we finalised work on our upcoming exhibition, ‘Blazing a Trail: Lives and Legacies of Irish Diaspora Women’. Four amazing Irishwomen came to EPIC to tell us about trailblazers from the past that they find inspiring: Tara Flynn, Dr Ciara Kelly, Dr Niamh Shaw and Dr Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington. It was a real pleasure to brief them on pioneering women in history, and a privilege to hear them speak about those women with such passion.
Keep an eye on our EPIC stories to see what Angela gets up to next.