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Mary Elmes – Gairm chun Gnímh


This is the incredible story of Cork woman Mary Elmes,
who risked her life to save Jewish children from
a concentration camp in Southern France.

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Mary Elmes – Gairm chun Gnímh

The powerful life story of an Irishwoman whose action-packed and courageous life was played out at the very heart of some of the major European conflicts of the last century. Shot over three continents and featuring exclusive interviews with her family, leading historians and archive footage never seen before, it is a masterful chronicle of a forgotten heroine.

Born in Cork city in 1908 where her father ran a pharmacy in Winthrop Street, Mary Elmes was never going to conform to what was expected of a woman of her generation. After securing a scholarship to study at Trinity College Dublin in 1928, she won the prestigious Gold Medal for academic excellence. This in turn entitled her to a scholarship at the recently-established and politically radicalised London School of Economics. The LSE experience changed her life forever.

Now fully politicised, Mary went to Spain and began driving ambulances in the mayhem of that country’s brutal Civil War. Later she ran children’s hospitals in the killing zone of Alicante. As General Franco’s forces pressed for victory, hundreds of thousands of his opponents fled northwards across the border into France. Mary followed them into the Rivesaltes concentration camp near Perpignan. When France fell to the Germans, this camp became the main collection centre for transporting Jews “to the east”. It was here that Mary would risk her life to save Jewish children from the Nazi gas chambers.

Contributors to this important programme on a true Irish heroine include her children Caroline and Patrick Danjou, John Baskin, Joel Mettay, Dr Róisín Healy, Ronald Friend, Dr. Ciara Breathnach and Dr. Gearóid Barry.

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