A sa­lute to May

Sculpture hon­ours hero­ine of ‘snail in a bot­tle’le­gal land­mark

Paisley Daily Express - - Front Page - Ali­son Ren­nie

A statue of a wo­man who helped make world­wide le­gal his­tory has been un­veiled in Pais­ley.

What should have been a run of the mill drink in a Pais­ley cafe 90 years ago turned into a le­gal cru­sade for May Donoghue.

The sin­gle mum found a dead snail in­side her bot­tle of ginger beer in the Wellmeadow Cafe back in 1928.

She suc­cess­fully sued the ginger beer man­u­fac­turer Steven­son’s af­ter fall­ing ill when she found the de­com­pos­ing mol­lusc, and pur­sued the ac­tion de­spite be­ing ridiculed in the press.

The case was fi­nally set­tled out of court in 1932, and May’s ac­tions changed the world­wide laws on neg­li­gence and gave power to con­sumers.

The new sculpture, by Pais­ley artist Mandy McIn­tosh, is sit­u­ated on Wellmeadow Street just yards from where the cafe used to be.

Her work is based on the only known photo of May hold­ing her twin grand­daugh­ters El­iz­a­beth and Eve­lyn on their chris­ten­ing day in 1952.

Mandy said the twins are means to rep­re­sent the scales of jus­tice.

The statue rests on an oak plinth with hand-coloured bronze spi­rals to rep­re­sent the snail.

Artist Mandy said she was keen to take on the project as there is a dearth of fe­male stat­ues in Scot­land.

“It’s great that Pais­ley is help­ing the lead the way to help re­dress the im­bal­ance of fe­males de­picted in pub­lic art,” she said.

“May was a work­ing class wo­man and hero, but af­ter the case, it’s like she dis­ap­peared in her own life­time and her own fam­ily didn’t even re­ally know about her.

“She prob­a­bly had the most to lose out of ev­ery­one, but de­spite that, she stood her ground and the im­pact she had was global. For some­one of her back­ground and class, that’s quite re­mark­able.”

May’s grand­daugh­ters Mag­gie Houston-Tom­lin and her 65-yearold twin sis­ters El­iz­a­beth and Eve­lyn, who are in the photo, said the fam­ily are de­lighted she is be­ing hon­oured.

Mag­gie, who was four when May died, only dis­cov­ered the story of her grand­mother af­ter a dis­tant branch of the fam­ily tracked her down eight years ago.

She said: “It’s ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic this is hap­pen­ing. I’ve al­ready been up to the site and can’t wait to come back to Pais­ley with my fam­ily to see the statue in-situ.

“My grand­mother was such a brave lady and it’s a very spe­cial thing to hap­pen. It’s in­cred­i­ble the in­flu­ence some­one from her hum­ble back­ground had.”

Mandy re­ceived fund­ing for the project from Ren­frew­shire Coun­cil’s Cul­ture, Her­itage and Events fund, which was launched in 2015 as part of Pais­ley’s bid to be named UK City of Cul­ture 2021.

Although the com­pe­ti­tion is over, its le­gacy con­tin­ues with ap­pli­ca­tions from lo­cal groups still be­ing in­vited for fur­ther rounds of fund­ing.

Provost Lor­raine Cameron un­veiled the statue and said: “May Donoghue was clearly a very strong wo­man who fought for what she be­lieved in and I’m de­lighted that she will be rep­re­sented with this piece of pub­lic art in Pais­ley town cen­tre.

“Across Scot­land there are tra­di­tion­ally very few stat­ues of women and I hope that Mandy McIn­tosh’s statue will draw more peo­ple to Pais­ley to learn about May and be in­spired by her story.”

So proud May’s grand­daugh­ters El­iz­a­beth Cosby, Mar­garet Hous­tonTom­lin and Eve­lyn Blair

His­toric mo­ment Artist Mandy McIn­tosh with Provost Lor­raine Cameron

Mak­ing his­tory The photo of May on which Mandy McIn­tosh’s statue is based

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