Women and the Irish Revolution: Feminism, Activism, Violence


November 2020

Linda Connolly

This books is an important new reassessment of women’s roles in the War of Independence, with contributions from some of Ireland’s most esteemed historians.


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The narrative of the Irish revolution as a chronology of great men and male militarism, with women presumed to have either played a subsidiary role or no role at all, requires constant renewal. Women and feminists were extremely active in Irish revolutionary causes from 1912 onwards, but ultimately it was the men as revolutionary ‘leaders’ who took all the power, and indeed all the credit, after independence. Women from different backgrounds were activists in significant numbers and women across Ireland were profoundly impacted by the overall violence and tumult of the era, but they were then relegated to the private sphere, with the memory of their vital political and military role in the revolution forgotten and erased.
Women and the Irish Revolution examines diverse aspects of women’s experiences in the revolution after the Easter Rising. The complex role of women as activists, the detrimental impact of violence and social and political divisions on women, the role of women in the foundation of the new State, and dynamics of remembrance and forgetting are explored in detail. Important and timely, and featuring previously unpublished material, this book will prompt essential new public conversations on the experiences of women in the Irish revolution.


Introduction: Women and the Irish Revolution ~ Linda Connolly
1. Nationalism and Feminism: the Complex Relationship between Suffragist and Independence Movements in Ireland and India in the early Twentieth Century ~ Louise Ryan
2. Comradeship: Feminists and Revolutionaries in Holloway Prison 1918-1919 ~ Lucy McDiarmid
3. Gendered Memories and Belfast Cumann na mBan 1917-1922 ~ Margaret Ward
4. Cumann na mBan, Martial Women and the Irish Civil War 1922-23 ~ John Borgonovo
5. Women’s Political Representation in Dáil Éireann in Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary Ireland ~ Claire McGing
6. Towards a Further Understanding of the Sexual and Gender Based Violence Women Experienced in the Irish Revolution ~ Linda Connolly
7. Compensation Claims and Women’s Experience of Violence and Loss in Revolutionary Ireland 1921-23 ~ Marie Coleman
8. Female Fatalities in Co. Cork during the Irish War of Independence and the Case of Mrs Lindsay ~ Andy Bielenberg
9. The Homefront as Battlefront: Women, Violence and the Domestic Space during War in Ireland 1919-1921 ~ Mary McAuliffe
10. ‘When we’ve licked the wounds of history’: Literary Representations of Women’s Experiences of the War of Independence and Civil War ~ Ailbhe McDaid
11. Remembering and Forgetting: The Tuam Mother and Baby Home and the Irish Revolution ~ Sarah-Anne Buckley and John Cunningham
12. ‘Brightening’ ~ Doireann Ní Ghríofa

About the Editor: Professor Linda Connolly is the Director of the Social Sciences Institute at Maynooth University. She has published extensively, including two books: The Irish Women’s Movement: From Revolution to Devolution (2003) and Documenting Irish Feminisms: The Second Wave (with Tina O’Toole, 2005).

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