6 April 2023

~2 minutes read

Book honouring Ireland’s first female vet to be launched in Mountbellew

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Book honouring Ireland’s first female vet to be launched in Mountbellew

Galway Bay fm newsroom – A new bilingual book on the first female vet to work in Ireland or Great Britain will be launched in Mountbellew this month. (21/4)

Aleen Cust was born in Co. Tipperary in 1868 and later worked for Galway County Council, before volunteering during the First World War.

But despite repeatedly showing brilliance in her veterinary studies, she was refused recognition for most of her life because of her gender.

Aleen Cust professed her unwaivering desire to be a vet from a very young age.

But she faced an uphill battle despite excelling in her college studies and winning awards.

Aleen wasn’t allowed to call herself a vet, or join the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, simply because she was a woman.

She instead started practicing as a veterinary assistant in Co. Roscommon, where she learned everything there was to learn about caring for animals.

Later she worked as a veterinary inspector for Galway County Council – but wasn’t allowed to use the word “veterinary”, and was instead just called an “inspector”.

Local newspapers at the time referred to her appointment as “disgusting” and “absolutely indecent” and suggested women should stick to caring for other women.

Aleen also served in the First World War, treating and caring for war horses near the front in France – when she returned home, she took over a vet practice in Roscommon.

But it wasn’t until 1922, after a two decade struggle, that she was officially recognised as a veterinary surgeon.

Her life is now the subject of a fascinating new bilingual book for primary school children, aptly entitled “Ever and Always: The Marvellous Story of Aleen Cust”.

It’ll be officially launched at the Mountbellew Agricultural College on Friday April 21st at 11am.

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