A Time to Risk All: New Book on Mary Elmes
When, in 2016, Clodagh Finn saw a performance of The Woman is Present: Women’s Stories of WWII by Mary Moynihan, Fiona Bawn Thompson, Deirdre Kinahan and Paul Kennedy, presented by Smashing Times Theatre and Film Company, she was so moved by the evocative portrayal of Mary Elmes that she set about piecing together the real-life story of how this courageous Corkwoman saved hundreds of lives in Franco’s Spain and Nazi-occupied France. She trawled archives in Paris, London and the US and managed to track down several of the refugees that Mary saved as children. She tells the story in a new biography, A Time to Risk All, the incredible untold story of Mary Elmes, the Irish woman who saved children from Nazi Concentration Camps, now published by Gill Books, €16.95 – see further information below.
The Woman is Present: Women’s Stories of WWII by Mary Moynihan, Deirdre Kinahan, Fiona Bawn Thompson and Paul Kennedy is a creative reimagining of moments from the lives of women during WWII recalling stories of bravery, sacrifice and love amidst the horror of war, as women stood up against Fascism and totalitarianism and refused to accept oppression. The performance is followed by a post-show discussion with the artists and invited guest speakers to explore powerful women’s stories in history and themes of gender equality and peace in Ireland, Northern Ireland and internationally.
Women’s stories that have inspired the performance include Mary Elmes (1908-2002), a Cork woman who was the first Irish person honoured as ‘Righteous Among Nations’ for her work saving Jewish children from the Nazi gas chambers during World War II; Ettie Steinberg (1914-42) the only female Jewish Irish citizen known to have been murdered in Auschwitz; Marta Hillers (1911-2001) from Germany who wrote her autobiography Eine Frau in Berlin (A Woman in Berlin) under the name ‘Anonyma’ (Anonymous), detailing her experiences of the last days of WWII as she and over one million other women were raped and abused by Allied soldiers of the Red Army; Neus Català Pallejà (b.1915) from Spain, a member of the United Socialist Party of Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War, an active collaborator with the French Resistance during WWII and the only living Spanish survivor of Ravensbrück concentration camp for women; Maria Eugenia Jasińska (1906-43) from Łódź in Poland who worked for the resistance and gave up her own life rather than ‘name names’; and Dolores Ibárruri, or La Pasionaria (1895-1989), from Spain, a revolutionary leader, political activist, communist and crusader against Fascism during the Spanish Civil War who created the famous cry ‘They Shall Not Pass’.
Smashing Times have recently completed a national and international tour of The Woman is Present: Women’s Stories of WWII. For further information on upcoming tour dates to happen later in 2018 and 2019 please contact:
A Time to Risk All
by Clodagh Finn
The incredible story of the ‘Irish Schindler’ who saved Hundreds from Nazi Concentration Camps
Mary Elmes might not be a name that many people know, but in a new book A Time to Risk All the extent of the momentous work that she did is brought to light. Elmes was born in Cork at the beginning of the 20th Century and travelled to Europe in the 1930s to help war-torn refugees.
In 1942, when it became evident that Jews were being deported to their death, she risked her life smuggling children to safety in the boot of her car and succeeded in getting a number of adults off convoys bound for Nazi death camps. She was arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo on suspicion of espionage and hostility against Germany. But when the war was over, she married and settled down, never speaking about what she had done. Her story was forgotten.
Over the past year Clodagh Finn has travelled throughout Europe and Ireland to piece together the story of this brave, unknown Irish woman, meeting with many of those Mary Elmes saved as children. Here, in a book packed with courage, heroism, adventure and tragedy, her story finally comes to light and she is remembered as she deserves.
A Time to Risk All was published by Gill Books on 13 October 2017, priced €16.99.
The book was launched on 18 October in Dublin with members of the Elmes family as well as people who were saved by Mary Elmes as children flying to Ireland for the event.
For publicity enquiries please contact Ellen Monnelly, Publicity Executive, firstname.lastname@example.org, 01 500 9506, 086 838 9611.
Clodagh Finn is a journalist who has worked for the Irish Examiner, the Sunday Independent and the Irish Independent, and as a freelance writer and editor in Paris. She has a particular interest in history and archaeology. She lives in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, with her husband and dog. This is her first book.