info@ruthfinnegan.com

Lucy Agnes Campbell

Lucy Agnes Campbell 1907-1995

My  mother Agnes (‘Little Aggie’) was born in the ancient city of Derry ( the ‘oak grove’  – dairi) that had been founded by Saint Columba  as, then, an island  in the

curve of the river Foyle

Shewas  her parents’  fifth, and youngest,  child, coming after the Catherine who died in childhood. She grew up, in Derry,  then took a degree in English at Quuen’s University Belfast where she met, then married, Tom Finnegan, my father, from an intellectually gifted Belfast family. He took up a job as classics teacher, then Professor, in Magee College, Derry, then a Presbyterian seminary.

My mother’s great student adventure was her months in Germany – no money, not speaking the language, few if any contacts, but determined. Her experiences there are vividly described in her journal, Deutschland 1929. Otherwise apart from brief holidays her only absence from the city of her birth was her enchanted stay in rural Donegal during the war, which had a lifelong and pervasive  effect on her. These months  are recounted with wonderful vividness in her engaging Reaching for the fruit, and have been an inspiration to the members of her family ever since.

All her life she strongly supported Tom, my principled father, in his pacifism (his booklet on the subject, War at any cos?, was, appropriately, one of the first Callender Press publications), in his left wing community work – much of the latter led by herself – and in their joint far-reaching international connections, especially in Germany and South Africa. Later she lived in Birmingham when he became President of the Christan federation of Selly Oak Colleges and  herself a lecturer  at the Westhill  College of Education. This was  after they had been pushed out of Northern Ireland for their liberal views.

She was always  a weird and wonderul story-teller, mainly in the oral mode but also as a novelist and dramatist. She  inspired  (and no dout sometimes irritated) all who knew her and a generation of family and friends after her. Together with myself, Ruth, her eldest daughter she was the founder and direct inspiration of the Callender Press.

It was at her request that it is named, Callender, after the earlier maternal forebears pictured above, to carry on her dream of bridging human divides with words, wisdom and love – or, at least, the human endeavour, it is all we can do, trying to do so.

The Derry ‘Peace Bridge’

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