Documentary on One

"Míne Bean Uí Chribín - My Granny"

One of the most provocative and colourful public figures to hit the Irish airwaves in recent decades. Even those who clashed with her had a grudging admiration for her tenacity.

"Míne Bean Uí Chribín - My Granny"


At the end of January 2009, Bláithín de Burca's family were besieged by journalists - they wanted to talk about her granny.

Bláthín's granny had just been mentioned in connection with the Roscommon Incest Case.

Then a teenager, Bláithín wondered how the journalists knew where to find her granny. It was explained to her that 'Mamó' (granny in Irish) had been one of the best-known public figures in Ireland during the 60s, 70s and 80s.

'Mamó', Míne Bean Uí Chribín, campaigned on the issues being hotly discussed at the time: corporal punishment, unmarried mothers, contraception, abortion, divorce.

Like many people then, Míne believed that Ireland was a Catholic country and should remain so. Unlike many people though, Míne voiced her opinions passionately, in the letters columns of the newspapers, at public meetings, on radio and TV.

She was a touchstone for those who didn't like the way the country was changing and a caricature for those who did.

As time went on, Míne slipped out of the limelight, acting on her Christian beliefs privately: free grinds for those sitting state exams, providing a place at the table to anyone who called, particularly the homeless and children.

Much of her work was for those she, supposedly had no time for: unmarried mothers and divorced people.

Mostly, she brought her knowledge of the public service and legal process to help those faced with resistant officialdom.

For people who called to her post office or the house behind, she filled out forms, made calls to government departments, attended court and wrote affidavits.

It was this last work that brought Míne back into the limelight in January 2009:

"Mrs. A" is a mother from Roscommon who, along with her husband, has been convicted and jailed for sexually abusing their children.

During her court case, the judge wanted to know why, after years of reported neglect and bad parenting, social workers had failed to bring the children into foster care.

The social workers told the judge that a plan to have the children cared for by relations had been agreed with the parents but, at the last minute, the mother had obtained an High Court injunction preventing the plan from going ahead.

The name mentioned in relation to the injunction was Míne Bean Uí Chribín. She had written the affidavit and assisted the mother in subsequent court cases.

In a statement at the time, Míne said that, like the social workers involved in the case, she had no idea of the level of abuse in the home.

Míne Bean Uí Chribín died on August 6th. last. Almost immediately, the online abuse began - anonymous posters welcomed her death.

Her family were hurt. Her grand-daughter, Bláithín needed to reconcile her memory of an elderly woman who was endlessly available to others with the image of an ultra-conservative hate figure on the Late Late Show.

In "Míne Bean Uí Chribín - My Granny" she talks to Míne's family and friends; those she campaigned with and who campaigned against her.

She also meets with the HSE childcare manager who dealt with the family in the Roscommon Incest Case.

Bláithín de Burca is a 21-year old Communications graduate who doesn't share many of her grandmother's beliefs, except for one inportant one: tell a good story right.

Music used: Cóir Naomh Paipin

Narrator/Reporter: Bláithín de Burca

Producer: Ronan Kelly

First Broadcast Sept 29th., 2012

'Documentary on One is the home of Irish radio documentaries and the largest library of documentary podcasts available anywhere in the world. We tell stories in sound, mostly Irish ones, and each documentary tells its own story'

Documentary maker: Ronan Kelly

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Documentary Maker: Bláithín de Burca

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