A Mother Writes, 1973


Letter to the Irish Times from Patricia Walsh in March 1973

Colm Walsh (son) writes:

My mother had arrived in Ireland in 1969 from the East Coast, US & couldn’t believe the state of the country…

Any excuse.

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16 thoughts on “A Mother Writes, 1973

  1. Daisy Chainsaw

    And then along came EEC membership that sorted all that bullpoo out.

    For this generation, it must seem like ancient history, but for a lot of our mothers, it’s their history. My mother was forced to resign from the civil service on marrying because married women had husbands who’d provide for them so they shouldn’t be taking the job of a single woman or a family man. Back in the 70’s, one wage was barely enough to provide for a family either.

    1. Cian

      For balance – if a man was working in the civil service and got married – he got a pay rise to support his wife.
      He also got a pay rise for each child.

      The woman was also eligible for a “marriage gratuity” – effectively a redundancy payment (1 month’s current salary per year worked)

      While it wasn’t equal – it was kinda fair.

      1. Spaghetti Hoop

        Not in the slightest bit fair! Women wanted careers and financial independence, and were denied both.

        1. Mel

          All that would have happened then, is that with both partners working, house prices would have risen accordingly as is the case today. Two people working can barely afford a home now let alone have families the size they were in the 70’s.
          Elizabeth Warren has written and lectured extensively on this.

      2. millie st murderlark

        That’s the furthest thing from fair Cian. My mother also was obliged to resign from a job she loved and was very good at upon her own marriage in the 80s.

        A redundancy payment did not make up for the fact that she lost her job because she married my father. And in the end, she had to get another job anyways because my father’s salary certainly wasn’t enough to support them both, nevermind anyone else.

    2. Cian

      Back in the 70’s, one wage was barely enough to provide for a family either.

      Are things better today? We have equality. Women new get equal pay [1].

      Today two wages are barely enough to provide for a family either. If a couple decide they want a baby they have stark choices.

      In the 70s the pay regime was “fair” to families (at the expense of childless women). today it is “fair” to individuals (at the expense of families).

      [1] Kinda. Any differences aren’t due to gender, but to motherhood. Your average child-free woman gets paid more than average. Your average mother gets paid less than average.

      1. kellMA

        It was poo no matter what way you slice and dice. The point is choice; They had no choice. Regardless of wage-price spirals etc. it placed a woman in a weaker position, dependant on her husband and forced out of a job that may have been a lifeline to her an avenue to keep those abundant brain cells fed. Why not let them chose which one of them had to go? Why the woman?
        So yes it is better now. I agree the bottom line may not be any better but maths is not all about the answer but how you get there.

        1. Cian

          I’m not saying that the old way was either the best way (or even a particularly good way). I’m just pointing out that there was a certain logic to it (for families) especially since contraception wasn’t available in Catholic Ireland™ there was a presumption that getting married would lead to children.

          There is a certain (socialist) logic to it. Today, if you have 2 people working for you doing the same job you need to pay them the equally. But they may have very different needs. One may be single living with parents and have lots and lots of disposable income. The other may have kids, no partner, paying rent and childcare and has zero disposable income. Is this fair?

  2. newsjustin

    This great letter should be shown to anyone who still doesn’t understand what a “pay gap” actually means.

  3. shitferbrains

    1983 and a trade unionist argued that women couldn’t expect the same wages as men because they were made out of Adams rib.

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