New book on trailblazing Athleague vet Aleen Cust

Niamh Ní Chróinín, TG4’s newly-appointed ambassador for children and presenter of the dedicated children’s channel Cula4, together with Cllr. Michael ‘Moegie’ Maher, Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council, will launch a bilingual workbook on the life of Aleen Cust.

The book launch will take place at Mountbellew Agricultural College ATU Campus (H53WE00), on Friday, April 21st. at 11 am.

Entitled ‘Ever and Always: The Marvellous Story of Aleen Cust – Britain And Ireland’s First Female Vet’, the publication is a bilingual Primary School workbook.

Ms. Cust was the first female veterinary surgeon to work in Ireland, or indeed the world, in 1900. Her life has been documented by RTÉ radio and television and also in drama by the Roscommon Amateur Society in a work written by Tommy Murray.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Nollaig Feeney, Heritage Office, Roscommon County Council, said there is great pride around Athleague in the story of Aleen Cust, adding: “The Heritage Office is delighted to support the ongoing Aleen Cust celebrations and I hope schools all around Co. Roscommon enjoy this wonderful workbook”.

This workbook was funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Decade of Centenaries Local Authority Funding); Galway County Council, Roscommon County Council and Tipperary County Council.

Aleen Cust was born at Cordangan Manor, close to Tipperary town in 1868 to Leopold and Lady Cust, a land agent for the Smith-Barry estate. After Leopold’s untimely death in 1878 at forty-six years of age, the family moved back to England and Aleen became a ward of the Widdrington family of Newton Hall, Northumberland, close to the Scottish border.

Aleen’s ambition was to be a vet and despite being disowned by her family she went to the New Veterinary College in Edinburgh and graduated with merit in 1900. The Royal College in London refused her permission to sit their final examinations because she was a woman.

Undeterred, Aleen returned to Ireland and took a position assisting a well-known veterinary surgeon in Athleague, William Augustine Byrne.

Members of the public are invited to attend this launch in Mountbellew to remember one of the region’s trailblazing women. For further information please contact Ita Gordon, Galway County Council by email to