This 'new journalism' by Irish Times women writers first appeared on the Women First pages during the 1970s. Taken together, the pieces reflect the enormous social changes of the years when, as the first woman's page editor Mary Maher put it, 'Irish women were invented'. They also make great reads, wise and witty looks at an emerging Ireland that seethed with change in those years - years when the women's pages of the Irish Times were the unmissable part of the day in an island awakening from a long sleep of isolation while it geared up painfully to join the rest of Europe. Changing the Times showcases the best writing in the Irish Times, pioneered by Maeve Binchy, Mary Maher, Mary Cummins, Mary Leland, Nell McCafferty, Gabrielle Williams, Mary Holland, Renagh Holohan, Christina Murphy, Geraldine Kennedy, Maev Kennedy, Eileen O'Brien, Caroline Walsh, Theodora FitzGibbon, Ella Shanahan, Olivia O'Leary, Elgy Gillespie and others.
Among the highlights: Nell McCafferty profiles Ian Paisley (in her first piece for the Irish Times) and interviews the family of the first girl to be tarred and feathered; Maeve Binchy interviews Samuel Beckett, Seamus Heaney and Theodora FitzGibbon; Mary Maher delivers her take on leaders of the women's revolution; Mary Holland follows the North, while Renagh Holohan is caught in its explosions; Elgy Gillespie spends time with Muhammed Ali; Mary Cummins describes the searing issues of the day. Together, this anthology gives these writings the afterlife they richly deserve. The idea for the anthology came when writer Davey Hennigan asked her to recall a forgotten interview with fighter Muhammad Ali for his biography of Ali's Irish visit, The Big Fight. It made her realize many pieces in the Irish Times perished around a single of cod and chips, and that they deserved another airing. If newspapers print "the first draft of history", as is often said, Irish Times women writers, bringing their "new journalism" voices delivered what were second and even third drafts, and make indispensable reading.
Food writer and journalist ELGY GILLESPIE worked on the Irish Times from 1971 to 1986. She freelances from her current home in San Francisco, and is author of the Rough Guide to San Francisco Restaurants and a cookbook You Say Potato!.