Mary Gillham and her Aran Islands visit of 1979
|Scientist and adventurer, © Mary Gillham
Dr Mary Gillham (1921-2013) was a pioneering naturalist and prolific wildlife author who took an active interest in the environment for over 80 years.
In 1959, Mary was a member of the first Antarctic expedition to include women scientists and after a period in New Zealand and multiple African countries, she spent almost thirty years lecturing at Cardiff University, on the natural heritage of South Wales. A tireless campaigner to protect species and habitat, Mary was awarded an MBE in 2008.
Towards the end of her life it became apparent that Mary had accumulated a vast archive of maps, illustrations, travel notes and manuscripts. Also over 30,000 slides and with the help of her family, colleagues and the South East Wales Records Centre, a successful application was made to the Heritage Lottery fund and the Mary Gillham Archive Project was born.
Above is the introduction to the Mary Gillham archive from which the manager of the South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, Adam Rowe, has kindly allowed us to bring you a selection of the photos Mary brought home after a trip to Árainn and Inis Oirr in 1979.
It’s obvious from looking at the archive that Mary was an outstanding teacher, scientist and adventurer but more than anything else, her photos indicate that she had a really great sense of fun.
|Kicking football on the West Wales island of Skomer. © Mary Gillham 1921-2013
The morning sight of a garden that had been visited by perhaps twenty asses during the night was a source of furious outrage or sympathetic amusement, depending on whether the garden was your own or your neighbours.
The islands were changing rapidly in 1979 and the introduction of electricity at Christmas 1975 would see many old ways disappear.
Mary Gillham was accompanied by a group of fellow enthusiasts and it seems that Inishbofin at the western end of Co. Galway was also visited.
Mary took a lot of photos of the plant life and it can be accessed in the archive.