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In the last (the first, really) issue of The Journal, I wrote about the great number of archaeologists in and from Athenry, but one was inadvertently omitted, namely Deirdre Ryan, of Bengarra, about halfway between Athenry town and Newcastle. Deirdre has just recently obtained her B.A. degree in Archaeology and Philosophy, and will be conferred.

But what makes her someone special, for she is no ordinary student? Deirdre is from Co. Donegal – McCafferty is her maiden name, a name which in Athenry has for long been associated with one of O’Donnell’s leading men when he raided and sacked the town in the late 16th century. However, despite this background, Deirdre found herself welcomed in the town when she married Michael Ryan in 1973. Apart from being a good housewife minding the home, her husband and six children, she started up a curtain-making business in Old Church Street right in the middle of the town her namesakes/ancestors wrecked and plundered four hundred years earlier. But the ‘academic bug’ caught her, and in 1991 she sold out the business and went to U.C.G. as what is called a ‘mature student’, ready to match her wits alongside the younger students freshly out of school.

For first arts she chose psychology, history, philosophy and archaeology, retaining the latter two as her degree subjects. Despite now having eight children, four boys and four girls, namely Declan, Gerard, Noel, Ciaran and Michelle, Linda, Martina and Patrice, not to mention Leticia, a grand-daughter, and despite continuing curtain-making from her home, Deirdre found time to study and successfully pass both subjects in her final degree examination. Deirdre is,  of course, a member of the Athenry Archaeological and Historical Society and no doubt if there was a Philosophical Society in Athenry she would somehow find time to join that tool.

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Written by Etienne Rynne

Published here 01 Nov 2022 and originally published 1995

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