Herstory – Women and Feminism are an integral part of Irish Heritage and Culture
Galway Civic Trust / Dúchas na Gaillimhe, have made a commitment to support and nourish the ideal of seeing women have the same opportunities as men within Irish society. As an organization involved with the promotion and presentation of heritage, it is obvious that in a democratic society there is a real need for social equality and inclusiveness. We are intersectional feminists in that we recognize the historical contexts surrounding the oppression of people based upon culural constructs and perceptions.
We feel privileged to work with the NWCI and the organizations under their umbrella, such as HerStory.ie who are engaged in admirable heritage work and historical research focused upon providing a gender-balanced perspective of Irish lives. We look forward also to working with all community groups in the Galway region, including Community Work Ireland, as feminist changemakers.
Galway Civic Trust would like to hear from you, members of the public, with any ideas, suggestions, stories, photographs, nominations or proposals with regards to furthering the advancement of gender equality within the heritage sector. You are invited to contact Declan O’Shea who is based at our offices in the Hall of the Red Earl, Druid Lane, Galway. Declan is a Feminist Changemaker with the NWCI, and a member of the Feminist Studies Association (UK and Ireland).
WORKING WITH 37 HERSTORIANS FROM UNIVERSITIES ACROSS THE UK AND IRELAND, WE ARE BRINGING HUNDREDS OF REMARKABLE IRISH WOMEN OUT OF THE SHADOWS. HERE ARE JUST A FEW…
Women had been involved in the peace process in Northern Ireland since the beginning, but in early 1996, Monica McWilliams and Avila Kilmurray discussed the upcoming peace talks and lamented the fact that due to the lack of women in politics, women’s voices would not be heard or considered by the politicians negotiating plans for Northern Ireland’s future. Working closely with the Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform – a group that campaigned for women’s equal civic and political rights – they began lobbying the Northern Ireland Office for a gender-proofed party list system by which men and women were alternated in equal proportions on their lists. Read more at HerStory.ie…
HERSTORY IS EVERY WOMAN’S STORY
Founded in 2016, the Herstory movement tells the stories of modern, historic, and mythic women.
The discovery that sparked a movement
In contrast to the handful of women we learn about in Irish schools, Herstory discovered that there are over one thousand fascinating women featured in the Dictionary of Irish Biography. The amnesia of women’s stories is not just an Irish problem – this is a global phenomenon.
Our mission is to give the public authentic female role models and a game-changing education programme, inspiring countries around the world to start their own Herstory movements.
Solas: 2021 Herstory Light Show
Women: Our History
Re-examining history from a female perspective, this book celebrates the numerous important roles women have played in culture and society that are less often told.
Packed full of evocative images, this gloriously illustrated book reveals the key events in women’s history – from early matriarchal societies through women’s suffrage, the Suffragette movement, 20th-century feminism and gender politics, to recent movements such as #MeToo and International Women’s Day – and the key role women have had in shaping our past.
Learn about the everyday lives of women through the ages as well as the big ?names of women’s history – powerful, inspirational, and trailblazing women such as Cleopatra, Florence Nightingale, Emmeline Pankhurst, Eva Peron, and Rosa Parks – and discover the unsung contributions of lesser-known women who have changed the world, and the “forgotten” events of women’s history.
Placing women firmly centre stage, Women – Our History shows women where they have come from, and, in celebrating the achievements of women of the past offers positive role models for women of today.
We propose sites for new street names, sculptures for International Women’s Day
On a tour of Ireland, one might easily ask: where are the women? There are statues to a few (we counted just five), a smattering of commemorative plaques, and the Rosie Hackett bridge in Dublin. But most of Ireland’s remarkable heroines are invisible.
Perhaps this is because, although there has always been a tradition of casting generals in bronze or chipping them out of marble, a great deal of women’s heroism has always been unsung. Who would ever erect a statue to a nurse? Or a needleworker? In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re changing that with our own modest proposal: a new map of Ireland, with sites for sculptures, new street names and even a mountain pass.
On our map we have inventors, social reformers, artists, scientists, a pioneering aviator and a mountaineer. There could have been so many more. With one exception, all the women in our list are no longer with us, but all deserve to be celebrated and remembered into the future.
1. Cesca Trench/Sadhbh Trinseach (1891-1918)
Statue, Achill, Co Mayo
Attending the summer school Scoil Acia gatherings on Achill Island promoted the Irish nationalism of the English-born Cesca Trench. She changed her name to Sadhbh Trinseach as she embraced the cause, supporting Irish goods, folklore, the language and the Irish literary revival. Best known for her political cartoons and posters, she joined Cumann na mBan, and delivered first aid during the Easter Rising, which she referred to in her diaries as “a tragic mistake”. Her significant art career was cut short on her death, in 1918, from Spanish flu.
2. Kathleen Lynn (1874-1955)
Lynn Station (currently Ballina Station), Co Mayo
Mayo-born Kathleen Lynn became a doctor after seeing sickness and poverty in the west of Ireland. A suffragette, she also supported the workers during the 1913 Lockout and became chief medical officer of the Irish Citizen Army during the Easter Rising. She was imprisoned alongside Constance Markievicz, and her diaries from this period are now available online. Elected vice-president of Sinn Féin in 1917 and a TD for Dublin in 1923, she also cofounded St Ultan’s Hospital for Infants.
3. Susan Lily Yeats (1866-1949) and Elizabeth Lolly Yeats (1869-1940)
Lily and Lolly Yeats Street (currently Grattan Street), Sligo
Working with the Dun Emer Guild, which pioneered arts and crafts during the Celtic revival, the Yeats sisters specialised in embroidery and printing. They later set up Cuala Press, which published new works including those by their brother WB Yeats, John Millington Synge and Patrick Kavanagh. It was the only arts and crafts press to be run and staffed by women.
4. Queen Medb (pre-Christian era)
Statue, Rathcroghan, Co Roscommon
Queen of Connacht, ruling from Rathcroghan, spouse of numerous husbands, a hero of The Táin; the wild and powerful Medb is the epitome of the warrior queen. She is also the type of woman whom generations of Irish women were told, by both church and State, they could never be. It’s not about starting cattle raids; it’s about owning the power.
5. Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849)
Statue, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford
You might think Maria Edgeworth wouldn’t need a statue, given she shares her name with a town, but, once one of the most celebrated writers of her day, she and her legacy have been largely forgotten. Sir Walter Scott, who has plenty of statues to himself, declared himself in her literary debt. Jane Austen was also an admirer. Castle Rackrent is often credited as the first true historical novel. Edgeworth also held advanced – for her time – social-reforming views on women, education and politics.
6. Kay McNulty Mauchly Antonelli (1921-2006)
Statue, Creeslough, Co Donegal, and McNulty Square, Dublin
Born in Donegal, Kathleen Rita McNulty emigrated with her family to the United States when she was three. A mathematical genius, she calculated ballistics trajectories during the second World War, with the job title “computer”. One of the team of six who programmed Eniac, the world’s first general-purpose digital computer, she solved a major problem with its functionality. Dublin City University named a building for her, but how about also renaming Grand Canal Square, in Dublin’s Silicon Docks?
7. Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1943-)
Statue, Lurgan, Co Armagh
When the Lurgan-born astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars (radiation-emitting neutron stars), she was notoriously passed over for a Nobel Prize in favour of her thesis supervisor, who had initially dissed her results. Last year she donated her $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics to support study scholarships. That’s some woman.
8. Mary Ann McCracken (1770-1866)
Businesswoman, lover of music, social reformer and abolitionist, Mary Ann McCracken has been overshadowed by her brother, Henry Joy McCracken, executed in 1798. But she worked to revive the oral music tradition of Ireland, was a philanthropist and fundraiser for the poor of Belfast, and led the Women’s Abolitionary Committee. Aged 88, she could still be seen at Belfast docks handing out anti-slavery leaflets.
9. Bríg (pre-Christian era)
Bríg Street (currently Grafton Street), Dublin
Knocking the duke of Grafton off his pedestal, or rather renaming Grafton Street in her honour, is no less than Bríg is due. A member of the Tuatha Dé Dannan, and a goddess in her own right, Bríg is most associated with spring and fertility, as well as being patron of medicine, art, cattle and sacred wells. She was known, even by Christian monks, as “the goddess whom poets adored”.
10. Sybil Connolly (1924-1998)
Statue, Merrion Square, Dublin
Famous for dressing Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor, Sybil Connolly employed about 100 women during the depressed 1950s. Thanks to another brilliant Irish woman, the Dalkey-born Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow, Connolly took the fashion world by storm from her very first collection. Based on Merrion Square, she never ceased to champion Irish fabrics.
11. Mainie Jellett (1897-1944)
Jellett Square (currently Fitzwilliam Square), Dublin
One of Ireland’s first and most interesting abstract artists, Mainie Jellett, who was born at 36 Fitzwilliam Square, pursued her art with a passion. She went to London, and then to Paris, with Evie Hone, to develop her own form of cubism. Renaming a square would be a fitting tribute to Jellett, who wrote that “the art of a nation is one of the ultimate facts by which its spiritual health is judged and appraised by posterity”.
12. Phyllis Clinch (1901-1984)
Statue, Rathgar, Dublin
Phyllis Clinch, who was born in the Dublin suburb of Rathgar, achieved international fame in the 1930s for getting to grips with potato viruses, leading to the creation of disease-free spuds. To a nation scarred by the blight that led to the Famine, this merits a statue at the very least. She also worked on tomatoes and sugar beet, and was one of the first four women to be elected to the Royal Irish Academy.
Become a Feminist Changemaker
Becoming a Feminist Changemaker with the National Women’s Council means you will make a real difference to advancing women’s equality. We need your support more than ever to campaign against the continued discrimination of women. With your contribution as a Feminist Changemaker, you will support us to ensure that women have voice in all the decision-making spaces about our lives, so that women are no longer excluded or left behind.
The FSA is a UK and Ireland based network promoting feminist research and teaching, and women’s studies nationally and internationally. Through its elected executive committee, the FSA is involved in developing policy on issues of central importance to feminist scholars in further and higher education, supporting postgraduate events and enabling feminist research. Committed to raising awareness of women’s studies, feminist research and women-related issues in secondary and tertiary education, the FSA liaises regularly with other gender-related research and community networks as well as with policy groups.
We are feminist. We deeply believe in the need of equal rights and opportunities for men and women. And we know that is not a reality. YET. We are also committed in doing our part to work towards that real equality.
We know that all feminists have that in common. Some of us are angry, some of us are optimistic, some of us are focus in the big international problems, some of us have also declared war to the micro- misognysims we live every day. Some of us are women and some of us are not. But we are in this together.
We don’t want this space to be a place to grant membership to a very exclusive and pure club, there is no exam and we are not here to tell you which kind of feminist you need to be. What we DO want to be is the brand that help you through your journey, who gives you a community, who challenges your beliefs and invite you to think further or differently, we want to encourage you to start conversations, to educate others, to understand more and action it, to make the most of your feminism so you have more impact, we want you to feel part of something bigger than yourself but to do it in your unique way. We want to help feminism to change the world, is that too much to ask for?