A research initiative on 'Women and Irish
Society: Understanding the Past and Present Through Archives and
Social Research' received a significant research grant from
the Higher Education Authority Programme For Third Level Institutions
in Ireland. The Women and Irish Society project represented a collaborative
venture between staff from the Departments of Applied Social Studies,
English and Sociology in University College Cork. The project was
successfully launched on Friday, the 18th of February 2000, in University
College Cork and it was attended by a number of academics from Ireland,
England and Canada who constituted the panel of experts and who
provided support and guidance to the project.
The overall project aimed to develop UCC as an international centre
for excellence in research into Women in Irish Society. It sought
to illuminate the transformation of women's lives in Irish society
over time and place, through sociological, literary and applied
social research. The project was developed in partnership with the
Boole Library and it underpinned the development of an international
centre for research into Women and Irish society with the findings
disseminated in diverse ways - through electronic media, a seminar
series, international conferences and publications.
The oral history strand of the project
sought to document the working lives of women in Munster during
the period 1936-1960, through the collection of oral histories.
The project is a study of the stories of women who engaged in paid
work in the period 1936-1960. It is designed to elicit information
from women about their experiences of working, their family lives,
their schooling and their impressions of how women's lives in Ireland
have changed since this period. The project aimed to examine if
and how, women experienced or reacted to the prevailing social,
cultural and legal definition of females as home-based and unpaid
workers. The researchers believe that the focus on Munster was important,
in facilitating investigation into the extent of organised, female
labour activity in this part of Ireland.
Much of what is already known about women's involvement in the
labour movement focuses on events that occurred in Dublin. By contextualizing
the women's accounts with official records as well as locally available
oral, textual and visual sources, the research provides a rich and
vibrant insight into Munster women's working lives, in this under-researched
period of Irish history.
A Young Ms. Madge Ahern (Research Participant)
The other two strands of the project were:
Women and Literature:
Women Writers Web site
Project Leaders: Dr. Pat Coughlan,
Dr. Eibhear Walshe.
Project Researcher: Dr. Tina O' Toole,
Department of English.
A detailed scholarly bibliography of Munster women writers from
1800 onwards will be compiled with a view to exploring the role
of regional, class and gender factors in the formation and literary
achievement of key writers.
Feminism & The Women's
Poject Leader: Dr. Linda Connolly
Project Researcher: Tina O' Toole, Department
Archives and sources documenting aspects of the political, social
and intellectual development of feminism and the women's movement
in the Irish context will be identified, collated and developed
into a data base. The material will be published as a documentary
chronicle and a sociological analysis of feminist politics and the