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RTÉ One, Thursday, 8.30pm
Ear to the Ground

Programme 15

Brigid Shelly, Cow Painter
Mamo McDonald, ICA
 Julian gets to work on fixing Phil Coman's bullock

Tuesday 16 February 2010

We take a look at 100 years of the Irish Countrywomen's Association and Darragh McCullough meets a woman who has become known as the 'Cow Painter'.

ICA
In 1910 Anita Lett set up an organisation that would change the lives of Irish women forever. Many were struggling to cope with the difficult living conditions, at a time when families were large, money was tight, and jobs were scarce. The ICA was established to change this and to improve the lives of rural women, and it subsequently played a key role in changes such as the lifting of the marriage ban, and the strive for women to achieve financial independence.

As the ICA celebrate 100 years in existence, Helen Carroll looks at the crucial role this association has played in empowering rural women. She speaks to Mamo McDonald, mother of eleven, one of the longest standing members of the ICA, and a revolutionary figure who has described herself as a "born again feminist". Mamo has witnessed the huge changes in rural women's lives throughout the years, and believes that the ICA has played a key role in this.

Mad Cows
Darragh McCullough meets Waterford artist Brigid Shelly, a woman who has become known as the 'Cow Painter'. Bringing a 'pop-art' look to local cows, Brigid convinces Darragh of the aesthetic beauty of cows. Traditionally a much overlooked animal by artists, Brigid's work has become increasingly popular and can be seen on the walls of Teagasc and marts around the country.

Regularly seen hopping over ditches to capture a particular look, expression or pose, Brigid's enthusiasm for cows initially amused local farmers - but they're gradually coming around!

On call with the vet

This time of year is one of the busiest for most vets, with cows calving and lambs lambing and plenty of crises to challenge the most caring of people.

This week, Ella spends the day with Tom Julian, in practice in the heart of the golden vale in Cashel. Throughout the day, Ella gains a fascinating insight into a challenging and rewarding job - one that a lot of farmers depend on.