‘Steeple­jill’ An­gela tells how she re­ally did scale the heights

The Corkman - - FRONT PAGE - JOHN TAR­RANT

THE amaz­ing life of An­gela Collins O’Ma­hony forms the nu­cleus of a new book ti­tled “The Story of Ire­land’s only Steeple­jill” and launched in the com­fort­able sur­round­ings of the Coach Restau­rant in Mill­street’s Green Glens Com­plex last Satur­day night.

On hand to launch the pub­li­ca­tion was Mill­street’s own Noel C Dug­gan, who ap­plauded Ire­land’s first fe­male steeple­jack. Clare na­tive An­gela is no stranger to Mill­street, she’s mar­ried to lo­cal na­tive John O’Ma­hony.

An­gela came from a small farm­ing back­ground in Kilk­ishen, Co. Clare and started her work­ing life as a sec­re­tary for a steeple­jack com­pany. Af­ter her boss died, the farmer’s daugh­ter from a poor back­ground de­cided to set up her own com­pany. Though she was man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, she pur­sued scal­ing 300-foot high church spires to re­place blown-off crosses and climbed 800-foots smoke­stacks, se­cured only by a rope.

That helped her be­ing awarded the first ever Veuve Clic­quot Busi­ness Woman of the Year Award, the Bow­maker Award for Ir­ish In­dus­try, and an hon­orary doc­tor­ate, be­stowed by HETAC. In ad­di­tion to an ap­pear­ance on The Late Late Show with Gay Byrne, An­gela was fea­tured in the RTÉ se­ries En­ter­prise in 1971.

“To ap­pear on the Late Late was a mas­sive break, it opened up a new world and we never looked back,” she said.

An­gela’s life­long pas­sion for climb­ing was born the day she was sent to a site to de­liver ma­te­ri­als. “When I couldn’t at­tract the men’s at­ten­tion, I climbed up to the top of the chim­ney stack to tell the steeple­jacks that their ma­te­ri­als were there,” she said.

The Story of Ire­land’s only Steeple­jill is the fas­ci­nat­ing story of a woman in a man’s world and gives the reader an in­sight into an un­usual trade and how she was able to jug­gle her oc­cu­pa­tion with rais­ing a fam­ily and sur­viv­ing can­cer. An­gela ap­plauded her great idol, Noel C Dug­gan, for putting Mill­street on the map. “We live in an un­cer­tain world, ner­vous times on both sides of the At­lantic. In­stead of drones and ro­bots, we re­quire en­trepreneur­s like Noel C to bring jobs into our towns,” she said.

In re­turn, Mr Dug­gan ap­plauded the highly acclaimed book and au­thor on de­liv­er­ing a ter­rific in­sight into her life and busi­ness. “An­gela is a re­mark­able woman, scal­ing the heights in busi­ness and gen­er­at­ing em­ploy­ment. Of course, An­gela’s hus­band, John, comes from one of most re­spected fam­i­lies in Mill­street, we re­mem­ber his fa­ther, bringing his white horse and trap into town for shop­ping and Mass”, he said.

MC Seán Radley com­pered the pro­ceed­ings and a lovely in­ti­mate Green Glens set­ting was en­hanced by recitals from Mill­street Piper Gil­lian McCarthy and Mill­street Comhalthas Ce­olteoirí.

Above: Eily Buck­ley, An­gela O’Ma­hony and Mary O’Con­nor en­joyed a mo­ment at the launch of “The Story of Ire­land’s Only Steeple­jill” in the Green Glens Com­plex.

Pho­tos: John Tar­rant

Tim, Donie, Stephanie, El­iz­a­beth and John O’Ma­hony at­tended the launch of “The Story of Ire­land’s Only Steeple­jill” in the Green Glens Com­plex.

Right: Tommy Burke, Mill­street joined by Niall and Elaine McDon­agh, Ban­teer at the launch.

Au­thor An­gela O’Ma­hony pic­tured with Noel C Dug­gan at the launch of “The Story of Ire­land’s Only Steeple­jill” in the Green Glens Com­plex.

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