The Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr PJ Ryan, has unveiled a monument at the Memorial Peace Park in Ennis to mark the centenary of the foundation of Soroptimist International.
Soroptimist International is a global volunteer movement with a network of around 72,000 club members in 121 countries. The organisation advocates for human rights and gender equality. The first Soroptimist club was founded in Oakland, California, in 1921.
At the heart of Soroptimist International’s advocacy is its work across seven United Nations (UN) Centres, where its UN representatives work to ensure that the voices of women and girls are heard.
The Ennis and District Soroptimist Club was founded in 1964, with members from throughout County Clare.
Cllr PJ Ryan, Cathaoirleach, Clare County Council, said: “I am delighted to unveil the monument in the Memorial Peace Park today in recognition of the important contribution to human rights and gender equality made by Soroptimist International and the Ennis and District Soroptimist Club. The advancement of human rights is fundamental to progress in our society and I commend the organisation for its advocacy work in this county and beyond.
“Soroptimists have been incredible ambassadors for women and girls in Ennis, Ireland, and around the world. I know that they will continue to educate, empower and enable opportunities for women into the future.”
The Soroptimist International Centenary Memorial comprises a granite block marker post provided by sculptor, Michael McTigue, and a plaque that marks the location of a time capsule to be opened in 2121. The monument marks the founding of Soroptimist International in California in 1921 and the Soroptimist International Ennis and District Branch in 1964, along with the inscription: “Educate-Empower-Enable/Oideachas-Cumhachtaigh-Cumasaigh”. The monument’s dimensions are 4ft x 16” x 4”.
Ennis Municipal District assisted and provided support in identifying the location for the memorial within the Memorial Peace Park, and assisted in the installation of the monument.
In addition to the unveiling of the monument, an Irish oak tree (donated by the Tree Council of Ireland to mark the centenary) was planted at the ceremony, which took place on 29th October, 2021.
Rosalie Byrne-Muir, President, Ennis and District Soroptimist Club, thanked the Cathaoirleach and Ennis Municipal District for providing the location for the memorial plaque and oak tree: “Buried beneath the plaque is a time capsule. This was the idea of our member, Sarah Malone. Sarah researched the time capsule, and encouraged members and clubs from all over the country to contribute items.
It contains profiles of local and national Soroptimists, historical documents and memorabilia so that the work of our organisation will be remembered long after we are gone. The time capsule is registered to be digitally marked and tracked on a global website so that its location will be found in 2121 – 100 years from now.”
The name ‘Soroptimist’ was coined from the Latin soror meaning sister, and optima meaning best. ‘Soroptimist’ may therefore be interpreted as ‘the best for women’.