Inspired by bravery – Ireland’s Holocaust Heroine

By Carol / May 7, 2018 /

People who risk it all to help others are inspiration for all of us. Some of these brave souls are well known – Schindler, Tubman, Esther – while others slip quietly into history. Irishwoman Mary Elmes is one of the later.

Mary Elmes, humanitarian

Mary Elmes’ humanitarian work spanned wars and countries and eventually landed her in a Gestapo-run prison. But not before she and her friends rescued more than 400 children from Nazi death camps.

I learned about Elmes from David Lawlor on his blog History With a Twist. Following is the start of David’s post and the link to the rest of Elmes’ story.

Ireland’s Holocaust heroine

The great events of our past – the wars and the genocides – are just a series of small steps strung together… steps that when looked back upon appear to be a seamless, momentous journey.

And because of that, we tend to overlook many of those very people who created the events that make history so extraordinary.

The name Mary Elmes is not one that conjures up any special memory to most people, and that’s probably just the way the Corkwoman would have wanted it.

Look at her photo and words like ‘refined’, delicate’ and ladylike’ spring to mind. Mary Elmes was all those things and more besides. She was also fearless, iron-willed and relentless in her cause – to bring help and succour to frightened, dispossessed people in fear for their lives. Were it not for Mary, hundreds of children would have died at the hands of the Nazis and thousands of refugees could have starved to death.

To read more, click here

Who is your inspiration?

Do you know other average people who’ve put themselves at risk to help others? Please share. These people often don’t get the recognition they richly deserve.

On a related note …

From social media to lunch in real time.

Two years ago this month, I visited Ireland and had the opportunity to meet and enjoy lunch with David. We’d known each other for a long time through social media, and it was a treat to meet in real time. We could have talked writing and life for far longer.

I encourage you to sign up for David’s blog, which celebrates what he calls ‘the bit players of history.’  You’ll be fascinated by the people whose stories he shares. While you’re there, check out his books. David writes terrific WWI-era historical fiction.


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  1. Carol Ervin on May 7, 2018 at 9:45 am

    Wonderful to see two virtual friends together in reality!

    • Carol on May 7, 2018 at 9:13 pm

      Meeting the authors I’ve met on line is one of the joys of travel. I still hope that you and I will connect some day, Carol. We came close a couple of years ago.

  2. David Lawlor on May 7, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Very nice reblog, Carol – and a great reminder of that lunch we had. I hope yo make it over here again and we can spend a bit longer together – the cliff walk to Greystones awaits!

    • Carol on May 7, 2018 at 9:14 pm

      Ever since you mentioned the cliff walk to Greystones, that adventure has been on my mind. I’d love to make the walk with you, David.

  3. Merril Smith on May 8, 2018 at 5:50 am

    An inspiring story of heroism–and a fine tale of friendship from social media, too!

  4. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on May 8, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    Carol, thanks for introducing me to some really interesting people, some who are still with us and some who are not, but have left their mark, living their convictions quietly and humbly. I love historical fiction ever since I was introduced to it as a child by my grandmother who bought me a book about a little girl who played violin during Martin Luther’s time. It’s in German and probably out of print by now.(see my blog post Dec. 2016
    Would love to meet you, Carol, but I’m quite sure Manitoba is not on your travel itinerary!

    • Carol on May 8, 2018 at 1:45 pm

      History has so much to teach us, if we pay attention. The story of the little girl who played violin had an impact since you remember it years later.

      Don’t count me out for showing up on your doorstep someday, Elfrieda. I love to travel.

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