•   12th December 2022
  •   1 hr 03 mins

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In this episode we talk to Orla Egan and Megan Luddy O’Leary about their recently published book, Diary of an Activist, an illustrated memoir of social activism in the 1980s and 90s. The book draws on Orla’s experiences “journeying through vegetarianism, anti-nuclear and CND protests, feminist and queer activism, lesbian parties, coming out and becoming a parent”, and aims to bring to light and make accessible the history of activism in Ireland in that period. It is published by Cork City Library, and is available from DiaryOfAnActivist.com .

Diary of An Activist, by Orla Egan and Megan Luddy O'Leary
Diary of An Activist, by Orla Egan and Megan Luddy O'Leary

Orla Egan is the Founder and Director of the Cork LGBT Archive and the author of Queer Republic of Cork: Cork’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Communities 1970s-1990s (Onstream Publishers 2016). She wrote the short play, Leeside Lezzies, in 2018 and is Director of the short Cork LGBT film I’m Here, I’m Home, I’m Happy (2021). She has been active in social change and LGBT activism in Cork since the 1970s/1980s. We previously spoke to Orla about the Cork LGBT Archive project in episode 8.

Megan Luddy O’Leary is an Irish artist, illustrator and poet. She draws, animates, writes, and makes things out of clay, collage and embroidery. She is interested in handmade aesthetics, particularly women’s craft work. Her themes include: the domestic, queerness, love and magic. Her work has been featured by Gill Books, Vibe Magazine, GOMA Gallery, Vittles Magazine and UsFolk. Her work can be seen on her website, meganluddy.cargo.site .

The video animated by Megan of Orla discussing Loafer’s Bar, which is mentioned in the conversation, can be viewed on the Cork LGBT Archive website . Also mentioned are the clocks page and the back cover illustration of Orla and Megan meeting to discuss the project, which are shown below.

A page from Diary of An Activist.
A page from Diary of An Activist.
Diary of An Activist is a social activism memoir journeying through vegetarianism, anti-nuclear and CND protests, feminist and queer activism, lesbian parties, coming out and becoming a parent. It features quirky Cork locations like the Quay Co-op and Loafer's Bar.

It provides a unique insight into activism in Ireland in an era before mobile phones, computers and social media. It features gestetner machines, badge making machines and newspaper pages clipped to a clothes line. It includes both a trip to Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp and a trip on a pony over a mountain just to make a phone call in the local pub.

Diary of an Activist is an intergenerational collaboration between activist and writer Orla Egan and artist Megan Luddy O'Leary. The beautifully illustrated story brings to light a history of activism that has previously been hidden, making it accessible and engaging.
The back cover of Diary of An Activist. The illustration shows the writer and illustrator meeting for the first time to discuss the project.

The Irish Left Archive Podcast aims to hear from a broad range of voices on the Left. We are not affiliated with any particular political organisation, and the views, information, or opinions expressed by guests are solely their own and do not necessarily represent those of the Irish Left Archive or those associated with it.

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