World of Irish Nursing & Midwifery May 2019


100 years of the INMO Mark Loughrey , author of a new book looking at the past 100 years of the INMO, explains his passion for the project

were setting the record straight, a few were getting things off their chest; but all were speaking to the passion and poignancy that characterise nursing, midwifery and trade unionism more generally. The book would not have been the same without those people and their stories. Nor would the book be the same were it not for the hun- dreds of images that are scattered among the pages. If you look closely at these images you will see that they tell a story in their own right”. The book is comprehensive. It begins with a close look at the heady backdrop that gave birth to the INMO in 1919. It moves on to detail the Organisation’s rel- atively conservative middle years and finishes with the INMO we know today. “One of my missions was to shed light on the founding women – the early movers and shakers in the Organisation. Those 20 nurses and midwives who established, in the INMO, what was the first trade union for hospital nurses in the world. Unfortunately, they never got to see the fruits of their labour. More unfortunately still, they were mysterious and elusive. We did not know their names. We did not have pictures of them. Partly thanks to the kindness of their grandchildren we can now, for the first time, put names and faces to the Organisation’s founders. Now, for all of posterity, these names and faces can rightfully claim ‘we were here’. I think that we owe them that. Indeed, I think we owe themmuch more”. A Century of Service, A History of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation: 1919- 2019 by Mark Loughrey is published by Irish Academic Press and is out now. See

The scholarship was like a gift to me so, now, it is good to be able to give something back to the INMO in the form of the book. “I wrote it between shifts in ICU. I was adamant that the INMO be placed front and centre in the unfolding story. You see, I was tired of reading histories of nurs- ing and midwifery that failed to mention trade unionism. I do not know whether the authors of those histories omitted trade unions by accident or by design, but I felt it was important to rectify this. The INMO is an integral part of nursing and midwifery’s past in Ireland, the professions would look and feel much different today were it not for the Organisation and I felt that it was time that its significant role was recognised. “My priority was to recount the INMO’s history as though I was telling a tale. It is easy to cobble together a hodgepodge of random events from the past but that is not really what history is about. History is about weaving a meaningful story from past events. It is about recounting the events of the past in a way that explains how one event might have influenced the next. In essence, it is about trying to explain how we got to where we are. “I was able to gather much information about the INMO’s past from the Organ- isation’s own archive. Many insights also came my way from the INMO’s journals. I was also very fortunate that a number of key players, eye-witnesses to major events in the INMO’s past, sat down with me and let me record their accounts: what they did, what they saw, how they felt. Some were telling their stories for the very first time, others were settling old scores, more

“The belief that we have come from some- where is closely linkedwith the belief that we are going somewhere.” This is the opening quote from A Cen- tury of Service , a new book documenting the history of the INMO which is being launched this month to commemorate the Organisation’s centenary. The book’s author, Mark Loughrey, explains the quote’s significance: “I stayed late in the library in UCD one evening; I was cramming for an assessment. It was near midnight and everyone else had gone home. Then I came across that sentence in a book. It clicked with me at once. Like a child at school, I ran my finger under the words and read it again. In the context of the task at hand it meant that the battles the INMO fights today are a continuation of the battles that it fought yesterday. So I set about writ- ing a book about the INMO’s past that resonated with, and had lessons for, the present. Why? Because we can learn a lot from these past battles and from the experiences of those who fought them”. Mark Loughrey is a registered general nurse. He lives in the countryside near Mac- room in Cork and divides his time working as an intensive care nurse and as a research nurse at UCC. In 2011 he was awarded a PhD scholarship, by the INMO, to study nursing and midwifery history. He com- pleted his PhD on the history of the INMO in 2015 and has now produced a book on the same subject. “I was very fortunate to be awarded a PhD scholarship by the INMO. I learned a great deal about ‘doing’ history while at UCD. I met some great people and made good friends.

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