UCC Women's Studies hosted a successful Herstory salon on 20 March 2017.

The event was held in the relaxed surroundings of the staff common room and was fully sold out.

The salon was kindly opened by Professor Patrick O'Shea, the new president of UCC.

Dr Amy Prendergast author of Literary Salons Across Britain and Ireland in the Long Eighteenth Century(Palgrave, 2015) discussed the role of three Irish women in the world of the eighteenth century salon.

Our speakers included staff and students across the UCC Women's Studies community speaking about women past and present. 

Further information can be found here


This conference considers how the expressive, experiential terrain of the body meets, interrogates and re-calibrates our understanding of on-going questions of agency, action, and subjectivity in order to attend to the various ways in which bodies tell their own stories  at the intersections of arts, activism and scholarship.

Abstracts & Presenters

Siobhán Clancy

Reading Between the Lines is a participatory reading event hosted by artist Siobhán Clancy that highlights the ongoing censorship of books in Ireland dealing with the subject of abortion.

In the wake of a number of referenda following the X Case, acts were passed in Ireland regarding rights to travel for abortion services and to access information about them. The Regulation of Information (Services Outside the State for the Termination of Pregnancies) Act, 1995 modified earlier censorship acts to allow publications with information about “services provided outside the State for the termination of pregnancies”. The ongoing prohibition of sale of 8 books is symptomatic of a culture of silence that still surrounds abortion in Ireland despite the fact that it is a ‘body story’ shared by over 150,000 people since 1980.

By accepting this invitation to read texts aloud, participants will perform an embodied gesture of dissent in a collective effort to de-stigmatise a common reproductive healthcare experience. Texts will be provided.

 Bio: Siobhán Clancy’s practice explores models of socialization that impact on individual wellbeing in contexts of health, disability, education and young people.  Working in collaboration mainly with youth, community and wom(y)n’s groups, her work is usually presented live as a performative event or situation. Siobhán also co-produces work with home|work, a feminist art collective that confronts censorship and self-censorship through art, action, performance, conversation and camaraderie. home|work emerged from a research and development phase undertaken by Siobhán with activist members of the Abortion Rights Campaign. It is funded under The Arts Council Artist in the Community Scheme Phase I Award managed by Create (The National Development Agency for Collaborative Arts)

 Faizan Fiaz

Poshida is a groundbreaking independent documentary following LGBT individuals in Pakistan, exploring their history, culture and challenges.

Bio: Faizan Fiazidentifies as non binary, and is a journalist and filmmaker who has worked extensively in Pakistan for news organisations such as the Associated Press, CCTV News, BBC, Channel 4 News, Radio France International, Daily Telegraph, NPR, Vice News and others. This is their first film.  

 Prof. Nuala Finnegan, University College Cork

Staging feminicidio: Bodily horror in stage adaptations of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666

Roberto Bolaño remains a mythical if rather controversial figure in the field of Hispanic literature. His posthumously published 2666  featuring the graphic “The Part About the Crimes” in which he explores the cases of hundreds of women killed in the U.S.-Mexico border town of Ciudad Juárez was transposed to stage by Alex Rigola, former director of the famous Teatre Lliure in Barcelona. The description of more than 100 crimes in the original novel is translated to the stage via a masterclass in compression in the form of one body –Rosita Mendez – played by actor, Alba Pujol and a scene during which the body ‘wakes up’ and re-enacts her rape, torture and death conveyed through a series of noises, shouts, moans and a few coherent words. In this paper I would like to ask what are we to make of the screaming writhing body of Rosa Mendez and consider her excessive presence through a number of theoretical frameworks informed by Georges Batailles, Irigaray’s ideas of parler femme among others. If the screams of Rosa Mendez raise problematic questions in relation to the ethics of staging gender violence as spectacle as well as the boundaries between art and activism, they also register the conditions of accelerated globalization and its consequences for the bodies of impoverished women who inhabit the peripheries or border zones of this new global world order. Following this, perhaps it is possible to see how the register of the voice and the display of this body in extremity converts the play into an act of dynamism, expressed through a body that is transformed into a live testimony of its own death. This dynamism stands in direct contrast to the dead ‘things’ that populate the novel’s exploration of the topic and unsettle in other ways key motifs that have characterized the feminicide debate in the region since it began including sometimes stultifying binary oppositions that lock the narrative into one about globalization and late capitalism filtered through the time-worn Agamben script of exceptionality about the border zone and its inhabitants.

Bio:  I graduated from NUI Galway with a BA in Irish and Spanish and then undertook an MA by Research at University College Dublin with a thesis on the surrealist prose poetry of acclaimed Spanish poet, Vicente Aleixandre. In 1996 I was awarded a PhD from the University of Glasgow on the notion of the monstrous feminine in the work of Mexican writer, Rosario Castellanos. This was later revised for publication as The Monstrous Feminine in the Writing of Rosario Castellanos (2001).

I was appointed as lecturer in Hispanic Studies in UCC in 1999 with responsibility for the direction of the newly established Centre for Mexican Studies. My previous academic appointments included two years as Head of Spanish at the University of Limerick and four years as lecturer in Spanish and Latin American Studies at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. I was Head of the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies from 2008-2013 and am currently Head of the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

As Professor of Spanish since 2008, my research is internationally recognized through my publications, my research supervision, project management experience, peer-esteem indicators, public engagement and as director of a successful research centre, Ireland’s only Centre for Mexican Studies. In my capacity as researcher, I have been an invited keynote speaker at a range of national and international conferences, seminars and workshops. I have served as External Examiner on numerous PhD boards and have been an expert reviewer for numerous international journals. I have supervised 13 PhD students to completion, a large number of Masters theses and am currently supervising 8 research students 4 of whom are co-supervised. I currently serve as Chair to the Association of Mexican Studies in Ireland of which I was co-founder. My teaching interests include Latino fiction, Latin American cinema, feminist theory as well as a final year module on Gender, Violence and Culture on the US-Mexican border.

My research areas cover modern and contemporary Mexican and Mexican American cultural studies with a particular focus on gender. I am Director of the Centre for Mexican Studies where I have led a number of research projects including the Boom Femenino: Reading Contemporary Mexican Women’s Writing (2010) and Transitions and Continuities in Contemporary Chicano/a Culture (2011). Current projects include an edited collection of essays on Juan Rulfo (Rethinking Juan Rulfo’s Creative World: Prose, Fiction, Photography) with Dylan Brennan and a larger scale research project on cultural responses to femicide in the US-Mexico border city of Ciudad Juárez.

I work as a referee for numerous journals in my field including

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (BHS), Bulletin of Latin American Research (BLAR), Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies (JILAS), Bulletin of Spanish Studies, Journal of Feminist Research, Journal of Inter-American Studies Association (FIAR), Hispanic Research Journal, Tesserae: Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies and the Journal of Transnational American Studies. I was

Chair and founding member of the Irish Association of Mexican Studies and am a member of Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS); the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland (AHGBI); the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) and WISPs (Women in Spanish and Portuguese Studies). I have taken a leading role as co-convenor of the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences cluster on Identities and as Head of School have overseen the establishment of the Centre for Advanced Study in Languages and Cultures (CASiLaC) in September 2014 with current director, Dr. Patrick Crowley.


 Prof. Gerry Kearns, Maynooth University

“From Panopticon to Arcade: Stories of Bodily Discipline in the Asylum”

The carceral archipelago of independent Ireland had religious and colonial roots. To the west of the city of Cork, in Sunday’s Well, a city gaol was opened in 1824. In 1852 it received a neighbour on its city side, a new district lunatic asylum named after the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Eglinton. In 1872 the Good Shepherd convent and Magdalen Asylum with its orphanage and laundry joined the string and in 1893 St Kevin’s Asylum extended the district asylum out towards the convent completing along the brow of Sunday’s Well more than a mile of institutions that confined and disciplined bodies in various ways. In 2005, Cathal Coughlan re-animated this history with a song-cycle, Flannery’s Mounted Head, that reflected upon these stories, asking questions about the new disciplines of a commercial society. In this paper I want to use Coughlan’s work to think about some of the bodily disciplines of colonialism, capitalism and catholicism.
Bio: Gerry Kearns is Professor of Human Geography at Maynooth University. He works at the intersection of political, medical and historical geography. He is the author Geopolitics and Empire (Oxford University Press 2009) and co-editor of Spatial Justice and the Irish Crisis (Royal Irish Academy, 2014). He is currently working on The Geographical Turn, a study of how geographical themes are treated in modern Irish culture, and on Making Space of AIDS, a study of the geographical metaphors that are part of the cultural politics of the AIDS pandemic.


 Dr. Elizabeth Kiely, University College Cork

Child Beauty Pageantry: Sexualisation or Subversion at Play?

Child Beauty Pageants and related TV programmes such as Toddlers & Tiaras feature children (mainly girls) competing in beauty pageants.  These involve both beauty and talent routines which involve work on the bodies for participant children.  In some countries there have been moves to legislatively ban pageants (France) or at the very least to register such strong societal cultural disapproval that such pageants cannot be held (Ireland). The dominant narrative as to why child beauty pageants are problematic is that they ‘sexualise’ participants; however what other ways of reading or interpreting child beauty pageantry may be eclipsed by this dominant narrative?  The focus of this paper will be on critically analysing discourses that make up the normative cultural interpretation of child beauty pageantry. The paper will also explore other critical readings of child beauty pageantry that may help us to better understand why such pageants trouble us so much.

 Bio: I joined the School of Applied Social Studies as a college lecturer in 1996. Prior to this I worked in research and in different community based youth work posts.  My research and teaching interests include social policy, particularly youth policy and practice, penal policy and feminist social policy. I also teach modules in research methodology.  I was awarded a Government of Ireland Senior Research Scholarship in 2002 to complete my PhD.

With Dr. Máire Leane I have undertaken an oral history project on women’s work in Munster in the 1940s and 1950s, which was funded by the HEA and which has generated an on-line multi-media oral archive ( and a number of articles. Based on this oral history project and in co-operation with Dr. Máire Leane I have written a book entitled ‘Irish Women at Work 1930-1960, An Oral History’ which was published in 2012 by Irish Academic Press.

Also in collaboration with Dr. Máire Leane, I have co-edited a reader entitled ‘Sexualities and Irish Society’ which was published by Orpen Press in 2014. I was Principal Investigator on an Irish Research Council funded project entitled ‘The Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Children in Ireland, An Exploratory Study’ completed and submitted to the Government Department of Children and Youth Affairs in September  2014 and presently being prepared for publication.  I was principal investigator on an NYCI funded Review of Youth Health Inequalities, completed and submitted to the NYCI in 2014 and also in preparation for publication in 2015.


 Susanne Leutenegger

Feldenkrais Method session

This practical Workshop in the Feldenkrais Method is for those who are curious to learn more about “How you move when you move”.

A lesson in the Feldenkrais Method offers a non-competitive, exploratory setting where you develop the ability to perceive and respond to subtle differences in breath, muscle tone and body alignment.

In a Feldenkrais lesson you will feel increased flexibility, greater stability and balance, better focus and attention and have more awareness of yourself in space and thus grow your ability to make creative choices and transform intentions into actions.

The founder of the method, Moshe Feldenkrais integrated fields such as Judo, physics, neurophysiology, human movement development, biology and learning theories.

“Moshe Feldenkrais studied the body in movement with a precision that I have

found nowhere else.” (Peter Brook)

Please wear warm comfortable clothes and come with sense of curiosity. Mats are provided.

Bio:Susanne Leutenegger was born in Switzerland and lives and works in Cork. She teaches the Feldenkrais Method in classes, workshops and individual lessons. She is also a painter and visual artist.


 Ríonach Ní Néill

The Area is a 25 minute dance film directed by Joe Lee and Rionach Ni Neill. It was made with Ciotog and the Macushla Dance Club and explores the groups relationship to the Dublin 1 area of the city.

Bio: Ríonach Ní Néill is Dance Curator at the Firkin Crane in Cork and also is also a dance artist and curator of the Galway Dance Days | Corp_Real International Dance Festival & Symposium. Her work is inspired by an engagement with human and social issues, viewing dance as a form of civic dialogue. As a performer Ríonach danced for many Irish choreographers including Finola Cronin, Fearghus Ó Conchúir, and Rex Levitates (now Liz Roche Dance), and was a longtime member of Tanztheater Bremen under the artistic direction of Urs Dietrich. She founded Ciotóg in 2006, for which she has choreographed 11 works that have been performed across the US, UK, Europe and Ireland, winning international awards. Ríonach holds a PhD in Geography from UCD and guest lectures in dance at the Bundesakademie für Kulturelle Bildung in Germany and the Landscape Architecture MA programme at the University of Sweden. She has developed dance programmes for older people, in both Irish and English, including the Macushla Dance Club in Dublin, now in its 10th year, and Ar Mo Sheanléim in the Conamara Gaeltacht, as well as dance projects for people living with dementia and people with psychiatric illness. She currently sits on the Arts & Health editorial panel.


 Dr. Jacqui O’Riordan, University College Cork

“The photos under the bed, and more”
When my mother died she left me a suitcase that contained photos and family memorabilia – a suitcase that throughout my life I had frequently spent hours rummaging through.   This paper uses the presentation of self/friendships/family to illustrate and narrate the fullness of a life. It illustrates the life course of the woman  who is suffering, in the closing years of her life, with Alzheimer’s. In trying to ensure the preservation of self and dignity,  we, as her family and friends, at this time in particular, prioritised individualised care and communication, despite the challenges presented. Her gift to me now enriches and personalises our story of this time and sets it in the context of the images we have through the photos in the suitcase – the photos under the bed.

Bio: I joined the School of Applied Social Studies, UCC in 2006. Previous to this I worked as an researcher in Tanzania, from 1996 – 1998. Following this I gained extensive experience in a range of equality concerns through my work with the Higher Education Equality Unit (HEEU) from 1998-2002. I continued to work as an independent researcher in Ireland from 2002 – 2006 during which time I tendered for and completed a number of community sector research consultancies. I also completed my PhD, ‘Balancing Lives and Livelihoods: interactions of employment and gendered identities in Ireland’ in 2005.

In general, my research interests embody the activist and academic and focus on a range of issues concerning gender, equality and diversity in local and global contexts. I have a particular interest in examining intersections between lives and livelihoods, women’s studies and gender, and a critical analysis of care, drawing on the feminist ethics of care. I became involved in researching the area of child migration and the analysis of different experiences of children globally, in the late 2000s and to this end, I am a founder-member of the Child Migration and Social Policy Research Group in the School of Applied Social Studies.

Drawing on these interests, my research contributions include analyses of aspects of child trafficking, care for children, migrant children’s experiences and interactions of education, community supports for people, younger and older, living with disabilities, as well as analysis of care and family carers in Ireland. I support students in their work in areas of gender relations and identities, migration, sexuality, community and personal lives.

 Maeve O’Riordan

Private lives: public bodies: women of the Irish landed class, 1860-1914.

Female members of the Irish landed class (the wives, sisters, daughters of landowners, and occasionally landowners in their own right) did not work in gainful employment during the period 1860-1914. Instead, they contributed to the prestige and status of their families through their roles as hosts, household managers, mothers, philanthropists etc. These women did not have ‘public’ roles, in that they did not leave their homes in employment, nor did they take on military or parliamentary careers like their husbands, and yet they, and their bodies, were publically scrutinized as evidence of their families’ position in the world. Clothes and jewellery worn by women were signifiers of wealth. It was women’s bodies which ultimately fulfilled the most important task in any of these families;  as it was only wives who could provide a legitimate heir.

This paper will analyse commentary on female bodies in the press, in art, and through correspondence, to argue that though women fulfilled ‘private’ as opposed to ‘public’ professional roles, their bodies were consistently available for public consumption.

 Bio: Maeve O’Riordan is an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates at Maynooth University. She completed her PhD under the supervision of Dr Clare O’Halloran at UCC in 2014. Her first monograph Women of the Irish Country House, 1860-1914, will be published by Liverpool University Press in 2017. She is the author of several contributions to edited collections on  women, childhood, and sexuality, her most recent publication will appear in a special issue of the Women’s History Journal on Irish women and the First World War. She was the curator of the 2015 exhibition Lives less ordinary: the women of Airfield (John Paul II Library, Maynooth University, Castletown House, Airfield House).

 Ailbhe Smyth

Title: ‘Layers and Loose Ends: Body Histories’ 

 Bio: Ailbhe is teacher, theorist, essayist, poet, and political activist who has been central to the development of Women’s Studies and the recognition of LGBT rights in Ireland. She was a senior UCD academic for many years and the founding director of WERC, the Women’s Education and Resource Centre in UCD, which delivered/s courses within both the University and the community.

She played an important role in writing, editing and commissioning publications for feminist publishing house Attic Press, including The Abortion Papers (1992), a response to the X case which came to court in that year.

She has been active on feminist and radical issues since the 1970s, and is currently on the steering committee of the Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment. She is a former chair of the National Lesbian and Gay Federation and her involvements have included membership of the steering group of the LGBT Diversity Programme, and of ERA (Equality and Rights Alliance).

Board memberships have included: GAZE LGBT Film Festival; Irish Medical Aid for Palestine; and Ballyfermot STAR. She is a Co-Convenor of Feminist Open Forum and National Convenor of the People Before Profit Alliance.

Colleagues produced a Festschrift for Ailbhe that acknowledges and celebrates her intellectual and activist contribution to change in Ireland:



Performance, Politics, Protest

(Hosted by Drama and Theatre Studies in cooperation with Women's Studies)

9am Welcome and opening remarks, Dr. Máire Leane, Vice-Head of College, CACSSS, UCC

9.10 -10.55am      Panel 1:  (Dis)appearing Acts: Counter/acting & Counter publics

Chair: Dr. Vittorio Buffachi

Dr. P.M.G. Verstraete, Hacettepe University Ankara, “Performing Arts at the Vanishing Point of Social Protest in a ‘New’ Turkey”.

Dr Gillian Whiteley, Loughborough University, “From being one to being many: minor acts of dissent and the creation of counterpublics”.

Dr. Cecilia Sosa (University of East London –CONICET/Universidad Nacional Tres de Febrero, Argentina), “The Performances of Blood: Queering Feelings of Kinship in the Aftermath of Argentina’s Dictatorship”.

Dr. Mark Chu, University College Cork, “Dario Fo, terrorism and the judiciary: locating the surreal”

10.55-11.10 Break (15 mins) Tea/Coffee

11.10-12.30   Panel 2 : Creative Acts and/of Citizenship

Chair: TBC

Dr. Eileen Hogan, University College Cork, “Performing Protest through Playing Praxis: Well-being and postmaterial values in Cork’s music scene”

Becci Jeffers, University College Cork, “The dramaturgy of young people’s activism”.

Dr. Helena Buffery, UniversityCollegeCork, “Bodies of Protest: the Dancer as Effigy and Heteropathic Witness on the Contemporary Catalan Stage”

12.30-1.30 Lunch Break

1.30-3.15-  Panel 3: The (inter)play of politics, protest and community

Chair: Dr. Sandra McAvoy

Sarah O’Toole, NUI Galway, “The Ladies Day Suffragette Caper: Feminist Strategies for Media Decolonisation through Performing the ‘Irresistible Image’.”

Jenny RogersUniversity CollegeCork, “From Ancient Grudge Break To New Mutiny: Using the Digital Archive to Inform Contemporary Practice”.

Dr. Niamh Hourigan, University CollegeCork, “Political Polarization and Water Protests: Austerity, Resistance and Changing Values in Ireland”.

Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick, Ulster University“Honour, Gender and Democratic Community”

3.15- 3.30 Break (15mins) Tea/Coffee

 3.30-4.50 pm Panel 4: Alternative spaces: Interruption, (re)invention and interventions

Chair: TBC

Joe Parslow, RoyalCentralSchool of Speech and Drama, University of London, “‘A Queer Threw Up At the Sight of That’: Queer Performance, Protest and the Loss of Queer Spaces in London”..

Mary Roynane-Keane, Independent Artist,  “Art and Alzheimer’s”.

Dr. Lee Campbell, LoughboroughUniversitySchool of the Arts, “Cinematic interruptions: intermeshing cinema, live performance, slapstick and technology”

4.55 Keynote Introduction Chair: Dr. Máire Leane, Vice-Head of College, CACSSS, UCC

 5.00- 6.00 Keynote

Prof. Vicki Callahan School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California

Skillful Digital Activism: Cultivating Media Ecologies for Transformative Social Change”

This presentation explores the conceptual frameworks and practical strategies employed in social change campaigns that have utilized digital media as a crucial component of their organizing tool kit.   Moving beyond the hazards of superficial social media engagement, or the justly maligned “clicktivism,” to transformative and long term impact, I examine a range of case studies that have worked to develop a “horizontal,” rather than top down, rich media ecology, which networks diverse groups, fosters community, and promotes real change.    Whether using virtual reality, interactive documentaries, or DIY tools, projects such as Hunger in LA, Lunch Love CommunityThrough the Lens Darkly/Digital Diaspora, VozMob, and#BlackLivesMatter are all pioneering digital tools and strategies in the struggle for social justice.

6.30-7.30pm Performance followed by Q&A:

Ava Hunt, Acting Alone

Venue: UCC Drama Lab, Connolly Complex, Western Road

Including brief Q&A Chair: Dr. Jools Gilson


 Women and Austerity

  Women’s Studies Conference

 13th June, 2015, Room G02, Western Gateway Building UCC.


 Keynote Speaker: (10.00am - 11.00am)

 (Chair: Dr Elizabeth Kiely, UCC) 

Prof. Mary Evans, Centennial Professor at the Gender Institute, London School of Economics 


‘In this talk I shall discuss the ways in which women ‘engage’ with money: not just in terms of our access to it but in terms of the way in which women, in both real life and in fiction, have constructed, discussed and articulated relationships with having and getting money. Social science has already demonstrated that women’s connection to money is less certain than that of men and that money is a major cause of friction in the family. But my concern is less with this important evidence but more with the ideas, the assumptions and the traditions that – essentially – keep women ‘away’ from money and in doing so contribute to the ongoing material poverty of women.’ 


Panel 1 (11.15am - 12.45am) 

(Chair: Elizabeth Madden MA, Cork Feminista) 


Deborah O’Flynn MA (OSS Cork – One Stop Shop Domestic Violence Information and Resource Centre): on impacts on agencies dealing with domestic violence. 

Dr Anna Kingston (UCC) on the effects of cuts on those with disabilities. 

Louise Bayliss MSc (SPARK, Single Parents Acting for the Rights of Kids): on policy and single parents.


In the afternoon we will look at imaginative responses to austerity with: 

Panel 2 (1.30pm - 2.40pm) 

(Chair: Dr Róisín O’Gorman, UCC) 


 Galway page and performance poet Sarah Clancy will read from and talk about her work. 

 Rita Fagan (community and women’s rights activist) will speak about a Dublin initiative, the ‘Spectacle of Defiance and Hope’.


 FILM: (2.45pm - 4.10pm approx.) 

The day will finish with a screening of Treasa O Brien and Mary Jane O'Leary’s film about Ireland, austerity and daring to dissent: 

Eat Your Children Film  


Nominated for the Cine TALENT Award, JDIFF 1915; Official Selection, Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015; Official Selection, Belfast Film Festival, 2015. 

Speaker Biographies 

 Keynote Speaker 

Prof Mary Evans

 I have taught Sociology and Gender and Women’s Studies for four decades and during that time have, amongst other things, been part of the group that established an M.A. in Women’s Studies at the University of Kent and published widely on aspects of feminist theory and fiction.  In recent years my interests have turned to three major themes: the impact of neo-liberal policies on the universities (Killing Thinking, published in 2004 ) , the place of detective fiction in literature ( The Imagination of Evil published in 2012 ) and most recently , not least because of the policies of ‘austerity’ ,the consistent repetition of gendered inequality ( The Persistence of Gender Inequality will be published by Polity later this year ). 

Panel 1 

Louise Bayliss (SPARK) 

I graduated  from UCD with an MSc in Equality Studies in September 2011. I started working as a mental health advocate but lost my job after I revealed treatment of women patients in St. Brendan's Hospital (Grangegorman).   

In December 2011, I was a founding member of SPARK in response to the reforms announced in  Budget 2012. Since that time I have campaigned against these changes. I have worked on policy papers with Fianna Fail, Stephen Donnelly TD and Senator Zappone. 

I have written articles about these changes and appeared on TV and radio programmes to highlight our concerns.  I have also given oral evidence to the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection.  

I am also a founding member of Equality Budgeting ( ) and I have also given oral submissions to various Oireachtas Committees. 

Anna Kingston (UCC) 

Dr Anna Kingston has an MA in Women's Studies and a PhD in Social Policy. She is actively involved in disability organisations in Ireland. Her teaching is mainly on the topic of feminism and mothering/motherhood. Current research interests are contemporary mothering, gender, care and disabilities. She has given seminars, both nationally and internationally, relating to mothers of children with special needs. Anna currently holds a part-time position as UCC CARL-coordinator (Community & Academic Research Links) promoting collaborative research between community groups and students. Her publications include: Mothering Special Needs: a Different Maternal Journey, London: Jessica Kingsley, 2007, This book explores the lived experience of mothers raising a child with a learning disability, through interviews with mothers of children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome. 

Deborah O’Flynn (OSS) 

Deborah O’Flynn (MA) is a graduate of UCC’s Applied Psychology Dept.  Having taught in the College for a couple of years, Deborah left to Co-ordinate a European Project facilitated through the New Opportunities For Women fund and managed by the Sexual Violence Centre Cork.  One of the main strands of the project was to provide training for volunteers working in Rape Crisis Centres to gain a professionally accredited qualification.  For the past ten years Deborah has Co-ordinated the OSSCork (One Stop Shop Domestic Violence Information and Resource Centre).  The OSS is a support services for those experiencing Domestic Violence, their concerned family members and friends and Professionals who come across DV in the course of their work. 

Panel 2 

Sarah Clancy, Poet 

Sarah Clancy is a page and performance poet from Galway. Her most recent collection is ‘The Truth and Other Stories’ which was published by Salmon Poetry in 2014. Her other work includes two more collections-  ‘Stacey and the Mechanical Bull’ (Lapwing Press, Belfast, 2011) and ‘Thanks for Nothing, Hippies’ (Salmon Poetry, 2012), as well as a poetry CD called ‘Cinderella Backwards’ which she recorded with fellow Galway poet Elaine Feeney  in 2013.  Her poetry collections can be ordered on line from her long suffering publisher's website:  

She has been placed or shortlisted in several of Ireland’s most prestigious written poetry competitions including The Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize, The Patrick Kavanagh Award and The Listowel Collection of Poetry Competition.  For performance poetry Sarah has won the Cuirt International Festival of Literature Grand Slam Championships and has twice been runner up in the North Beach Nights Grand Slam. In 2013 on her second go at being Connaught’s representative in the all-Ireland Grand Slam Championships she finished as overall runner up. In March this year she was given the 2014 Irish People’s Poet Award. She is on twitter @sarahmaintains  and can be contacted by e-mail at  

Rita Fagan, Community Activist   

Rita is from a working class family in the Liberties, Dublin. She went to the sewing factory at 14. Through the 14 years there she became active in the Trade Union Movement. She spent 11 years voluntary and 1 fulltime in the Dublin Simon Community. From here she was sponsored by good people to partake in the Community & Youth work course in NUI Maynooth. On a placement from this course, Rita came to St. Michaels Estate. 28 years later she is still in this struggle with this grassroots community and is the director of the Family Resource Centre, Women’s Community Development Project. She has travelled widely and has been involved politically in the issues effecting Central America and Cuba. For 9 years she led a protest outside of the U.S. Embassy challenging U.S. foreign policy in the said region. She is also committed to the struggle of women at grassroots level who are very much on the margins and whose struggle on a daily basis is to survive structural poverty. Last, but by no means least, she believes that the struggle for justice and freedom not only embodies pain but also joy through celebrating our lives and the outcome of the struggle.

  For further information contact Dr Sandra McAvoy, or register here:



Women and Media: Feminist Concerns

a seminar hosted by

Women's Studies and Cork Feminista


Saturday 13th September, 10.00am to 1.00 pm

Room G02 in the Western Gateway Building

All welcome

Chair: Deirdre O'Shaughnessy:

Deirdre O'Shaughnessy is a journalist and broadcaster. As well as editing Cork's biggest talk show on 96fm, she writes features and op-ed for The Herald, The Sunday Business Post and Women Mean Business magazine.

She's a member of Women on Air and The 5050 Group and is currently researching the impact of political gender quotas in Rwanda at UCC.



Una Mullally (journalist and broadcaster)


Una Mullally is a journalist and broadcaster from Dublin. She writes a weekly opinion column for the Irish Times as well as features and interviews, and runs the pop culture blog PopLife. She has a particular interest in feminism, LGBT issues, music, contemporary theatre, pop culture, tech, and the impact of the internet on identity and behaviour. She co-founded the queer spoken word event Come Rhyme With Me, which acts as a funding mechanism for LGBT resource centre Outhouse, and has performed at the Dublin Fringe Festival, Body & Soul, Electric Picnic and First Fortnight. Her alternative music show for TG4, Ceol ar an Imeall, is currently in its sixth series, and she is also a reporter for the TG4 arts show Imeall. She co-founded the music documentary film festival OneTwoOneTwo and is a member of Agility, a collaborative group working on creative projects and start-ups. Her first book, an oral history of the marriage equality movement in Ireland, will be published in late 2014.


I’ll be talking largely about gender imbalance in the Irish media across print, radio and film, trolling, protecting women in the media and how the silencing of LGBT voices in the media is a feminist issue.


Sophie Bennett

Sophie Bennett is Co-Director of UK Feminista, - an organisation which supports and promotes grassroots feminist activism (  She was previously Campaigns and Policy Officer at Object and Welfare and Equality Officer at the University of Bristol Students’ Union.  She has taught at the Uganda Martyrs University in Uganda and founded the University of Bristol Feminist Society in 2009. Interviews with Sophie have appeared on Sky News, Channel 5 News, ITV news and in the Guardian, Observer and Independent.


In May 2013 UK Feminista and Object launched the Lose the Lads’ Mags campaign, calling on retailers to stop selling sexist, harmful lads’ mags. The campaign took on some of the UK’s biggest retailers and within six months of launching, the Co-op had withdrawn lads' mags from its 4000 stores and Tesco had age-restricted theirs. Since then Nuts and Front magazine have folded, Stuff has dropped objectifying images of women from its covers and Loaded has re-launched without its pornified content.

This presentation will explore what made the ‘Lose the Lads’ Mags’ campaign so powerful and why strategy was key. It will discuss the degrading and harmful portrayal of women in lads’ mags and how selling these publications can breach Equality Law.


Rachel Doyle: National Women’s Council of Ireland

Rachel Doyle has worked with the National Women’s Council of Ireland since 2004 and is Head of Development and Outreach at NWCI. She is a qualified community worker with over 20 years’ experience of working in the community and voluntary sector at local and national levels in Ireland including as co-ordinator of Galway Travellers Support Group (now Galway Travellers Movement) for 5 years and of the National Traveller Women’s Forum for 3 years. Her particular areas of responsibility in NWCI include provision of support for campaigns of survivors of institutional abuse, co-ordination of the Women’s Human Rights Alliance, NWCI’s anti-racism and integration policy work, promotion of gender mainstreaming in health services, local and community development, and membership support and development.

National Women’s Council of Ireland Presentation

Hearing Women’s Voices?

The under representation of women in the media and the portrayal of women in different media forms are of core concern to NWCI members and feminists in Ireland and throughout the world. The presentation will explore the causes and impacts of women’s exclusion from the media and the role and responsibility of the media in democratic society. It will outline key issues raised by NWCI to the BAI’s Draft Code on fairness, impartiality and accountability in news and current affairs and the AAI’s 2013 Review of the Code of Advertising Standards and the Code of Sales Promotion Practice.

In addition, the presentation will include an overview of NWCI’s new research project being undertaken in association with DCU’s School of Communications entitled “Hearing Women’s Voices”? Exploring women’s underrepresentation in current affairs radio programming in Ireland.

EU Recommendation CM/Rec(2013) 1 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on gender equality and media advises that: “Member States should particularly ensure, through appropriate means, that media regulators respect gender equality principles in their decision making and practice.” This recommendation comes in direct response to the continuing underrepresentation of women on the air, a situation that is particularly acute in Ireland in relation to radio coverage of current affairs, politics and economics.

The NWCI/DCU research project is being funded by the BAI and will document current levels of female participation in current affairs radio programming and identify any issues arising at production level which may be contributing to lower levels of participation. The presentation will outline the rationale for, issues being explored in and expected outcomes of the project.




A seminar hosted by Women's Studies and and ISS21


"Mizrahi Mothers, Wrapped in the Flag: Ultra-Nationalism, Apartheid, and the Divinity of Bureaucracy in Israel"



Dr. Sandra McAvoy, Co-ordinator of Women's Studies, UCC



Prof. Smadar Lavie's new book, "Wrapped in the Flag of Israel" (Berghahn Books, 2014) posits a model of state bureaucracy that operates by theological decree. In this system, the categories of religion, gender, and race become the ironclad rubric used to sort citizens into binaries: Jews versus Goyim, rich versus poor, Men versus Women, White versus Black. In so doing, Lavie explores the relationship between social protest movements in the State of Israel, violence in Gaza, protest movements in the surrounding Islamic World, and the possibility of a third intifada or a nuclear conflict between Israel and Iran.

Wrapped in the Flag of Israel also details Smadar Lavie’s life as a welfare mother and her leadership in Ahoti, Israel’s first Feminist of Color movement. It also exposes the structural apartheid between Jews from the Muslim and Arab World, or Mizrahim ―Israel’s majority citizenry―and the state’s European Jewish ruling minority. Through the lens of the 2003 Single Mothers’ March led by welfare mother Vicky Knafo and the "Tel Aviv-Tahrir" mass demonstrations of 2011, Lavie reveals how bureaucratic entanglements lead directly to pain, or what arguably can be seen as torture. Lavie uncovers the conundrum of loving and staying loyal to a state that uses its bureaucratic system to repeatedly inflict pain on its non-European majority who, despite this pain, is willing to sacrifice their lives for what they conceive of as the state’s security.


Book Launch:

Professor Lavie's book "Wrapped in the Flag of Israel" (Berghahn Books, 2014) will be launched by Dr. Kathy Glavanis in the CACSSS meeting room at 4.15pm.

All Welcome.


Biographical note:

Smadar Lavie is a visiting professor at the Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century, University College Cork. She is also a scholar in residence at the Beatrice Bain Research Group, U. C. Berkeley’s critical feminist research center. Lavie spent nine years as tenured Professor of Anthropology at U.C. Davis, before fleeing California for Israel with her son as a result of domestic abuse. Once inside Israel’s borders, Lavie became a target of the regime due to her lifelong, outspoken scholarship and activism for gender equity and social justice for both Israelis and Palestinians. Israeli authorities confiscated her passports and issued an eight-year-long stop-exit order that trapped her within the country’s borders. Barred from gainful employment due to her politics and skin color, she was forced to rely on state welfare to survive. Even so, she turned her efforts to help establish feminist, anti-racist social initiatives, including Israel’s first Feminist of Color social movement. Lavie is the author of The Poetics of Military Occupation, receiving the Honorable Mention of the Victor Turner Award for Ethnographic Writing, and co-edited Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity. She is the winner of the American Studies Association’s 2009 Gloria Anzaldúa Prize and the recipient of the 2013 "Heart at East" Honor Plaque for service on behalf of Mizrahi communities in the State of Israel.


The book can be ordered and viewed here




Women's Studies and the Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights

A Seminar to mark International Women's Day on 8th March

'The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence: the politics and process of drafting.’

Prof Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law, London School of Economics and Political Science

Discussant: Dr Louise Crowley, Faculty of Law, University College Cork


Date:March 6th

Time 1-2.30pm,

Venue: Moot Court Room, Aras na Laoi (first floor),

Law Faculty,

Gaol Cross,

University College Cork



Bio: Professor Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law, London School of Economics and Political Science

Christine Chinkin is Professor of International Law at the LSE and a barrister, a member of Matrix Chambers. Together with H. Charlesworth, she won the American Society of International Law, 2005 Goler T. Butcher Medal 'for outstanding contributions to the development or effective realization of international human rights law'. She was a member of the UN fact finding mission to Gaza in 2009 and a contributor to the subsequent Goldstone report.

She is an Overseas Affiliated Faculty Member, University of Michigan and has been a Scholar in Residence for Amnesty International (2005), as well as Visiting Professor at Columbia University (2004) and at the Arts and Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University (2003). Professor Chinkin is a member of the Kosovo Human Rights Advisory Panel (appointed 2010) and was a scientific expert to the Council of Europe Ad Hoc Committee on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women (leading to the drafting and adoption of the Istanbul Convention.) She has published widely in the fields of gender and human rights law, and public international law.

“Everything that explains the world has in fact explained a world that does not exist, a world in which men are at the center of the human enterprise and women are at the margin "helping" them. Such a world does not exist —never has” —Gerda Lerner

March is Women's History Month and this seminar is the second one organised by Women's Studies with a historical theme. (The first was the Irish Women and the First World War event on 1st March.)


Women’s Studies Seminar

 Thursday, 13th March at 2.00pm in ORB 220

 On Women and the Gaelic League


 Dr Renée Tosser, Université de la Réunion

 Dr Tosser is a sociocultural historian of Ireland’s revolutionary period 1890 – 1922

 All welcome – and it is always lovely to welcome back former students and colleagues


Paying the price to

the uttermost farthing?

Women and the First World War

This seminar, organised by Women’s Studies in UCC, will examine

aspects of Irish women’s views and experiences of the war


Women’s Studies Seminar – Sat. 1st March, 2014

Kane GO1 at 10.00 a.m. (registration from 9.30 a.m.)

There is no attendance fee. All welcome.

Do contact Sandra McAvoy at to register that you are coming so we can sort teas and coffees.



In August 1914 Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington summed up the position of the women of Europe:

 ‘all alike in their voteless condition … their hands are clean; they have no responsibility for this war. Like us, they have to pay the price none the less to the uttermost farthing. They have to deliver up the sons they bore in agony to a bloody death in a quarrel of which they know not the why or wherefore, on the side of the particular ally their Government has chosen for the moment: they have to face starvation at home for themselves and their children … many of them are exposed with their helpless daughters to the lust and outrage of a war maddened soldiery.’ (Irish Citizen, Aug 15, 1914)

We are in the early stages of raising awareness of the complex activities, views and experiences of Irish women during the First World War.

Programme for 1st March:

Session 1 (Chair Dr Clare O’Halloran)

10:00 Seminar opening and poetry reading by Eadaoin O'Donaghue:

Munition Wages by Madeline Ida Bedford

Hallow-e’en 1915 by Winifred M. Letts (1916)

10:15 – 11:25: Panel 1: Women and Forms of Work

Dr Mary Muldowney: ‘Unsuitable work for women’. Employment in munitions and railways during the First World War.

Dr John Borgonovo (UCC) Unionists, Nationalists, and Separation Women:  The Mobilisation of Cork Women, 1914-1918.

Dr Sandra McAvoy (UCC) Relief Work in a  War Zone: Cork Suffragist Susanne Day’s Experience.

11:25 – 11:30 short break


Session 2

11:30 – 12:05 Keynote Speaker (Chair Maeve O’Riordan)

Dr Rosemary Cullen-Owens: 'WOMEN OF EUROPE, WHEN WILL YOUR CALL RING OUT?' Appeal by Louie Bennett in Jus Suffragii, 1 March 1915, (Journal of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance).

12:05 -12:20: Break

Teas and coffees will be served


Session 3 (Chair Dr Sandra McAvoy)

12:20 – 1:10 Panel 2: Women and remembrance

Maeve O’Riordan (UCC): ‘I read the Times every day’: Lady Inchiquin’s First World War experience.

Clodagh Tait (Mary Immaculate College): Landscapes of loss: mourning and memory in an east Cork parish.

1:10 – 1:30 The Diary of Mary Martin

Rachel Murphy (UCC): We have started saying the rosary together for you every night’: A Mother’s Perspective on the First World War, based on The Diary of Mary Martin 1916, a Digital Project. (See: )

Close of event



Irish Feminist Activism and the Arts


Saturday 15th June, 2013

Registration 9.30 - 10.00am

Conference running time 10.00am to 5.00pm

Contact: for further information and to register (021 490 3654)


Some preliminary information on the programme.

This year’s Women’s Studies conference is something of an experiment as we called for proposals for performances as well as papers. We have some interesting material lined up for the day.

Two keynote speakers, Sonja Tiernan and Ailbhe Smyth, will introduce ways in which feminists past and present, denied of a more conventional 'P'olitical platform, have used the arts to reach into the core of their concerns and place them in the public domain.

Sonja Tiernan(Department of History and Politics Liverpool Hope University), whose biography of Eva Gore-Booth (1870-1926) was published by Manchester University Press in 2012, will present on 'Eva Gore-Booth; politics, parity and poetry' discussing how Gore-Booth used her creative writing to advance feminist causes.   ( and

Ailbhe Smyth, is a feminist activist, academic, and was a key figure in the development of Women’s Studies in Ireland – as well as in Attic Press. Her presentation is entitled 'More of your lip there, girl!': A Personal Reflection on Feminism, Culture and Protest.

Catherine Cabeen is a former member of the Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and the Martha Graham Dance Company among others. 

“Ready,Aim…  is a 20-minute solo performance created and performed by Catherine Cabeen.  The comedic, dance-theater work explores the history of Western concert dance in relation to female objectification and relates changes in traditional costuming to the manifestation of eating disorders. Ready, Aim… is a celebration of female anatomy and at the same time a reminder of the politics that are inherent in the female body in performance. Ready, Aim… is interactive.”  See Catherine’s website at

Members of Sawa Le Arts Collective came together in 2011when the women involvedwere at various stages of their asylum/migration journey in Ireland. They will perform scenes from the devised play “On our Way” and engage in discussion with the audience. The performance will be framed by an introductory video involving Women’s Studies PhD student Nilmini Fernando, whose feminist participatory research project brought the group together. It introduces ‘one formulation of feminist participatory research within an artist/academic/activist model using
drama as a “de-colonising” research tool that can facilitate self-representation and “embodied” activism - bringing the women along with
their stories.’ (See
and )

Valerie O’Connor, Chairperson of the National Campaign For the Arts is curator of the The Legacy Project,which has been initiated by the National Women’s Council of Ireland in the year that marks the centenary of the 1913 Lockout. Launched at the One Struggle
, organised by SIPTU Equality, on 9 March 2013, the project aims to challenge mainstream thinking on women and work and to celebrate women’s activism. The NWCI website notes three things that emerged in the development of the brief for the four artists involved:

 ‘Firstly, the growing experience of ‘precarity’ among women in particular; how changing work practices that remove security and redefine paid and unpaid work are becoming more and more mainstream. Secondly, the concept of access to 'representation'; whether that is legal, political, or cultural remains a struggle. Thirdly, 'visibility', or the lack of it; typically, the day to day work and working environments of those active in the voluntary and community sector remains invisible as the focus is normally on outcomes and specific output. In this case the commissions offer a great opportunity to address this at a time when the sector is undergoing change.’

(See and

Caitriona Reilly of Queens University Belfast will present on Performing Prostitution and the Postfeminist Problem in Contemporary Ireland: The Boys of Foley Street and Taking Back Our Voices: A collaboration with Ruhama. Caitriona will look at the representation of prostitution and the lives of sex workers in Ireland as depicted in contemporary performances.  With the current review of legislation, the paper raises current and key issues.

 Emma Campbell,artist, photographer and film-maker will present a short film and photographic series, representing the abortion journey in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The text and audio for the film are taken ‘verbatim from Hansard notes of a Northern Ireland Assembly debate on abortion access in June 2000.’ (See

 Katie Gillum,  activist filmmaker and researcher, and artist Siobhán Clancy will present on ‘how media may be used creatively - using the
Abortion Rights Campaign - as a case study and how creativity in the form of participatory arts can broaden feminist discourse.  Our multi-media
presentation examines post-modernist theories of cyber-feminism in current activist contexts.  We hope to reflect on how we, as an intergenerational network of pro-choice activists in contemporary Ireland engage in creative communicate currently.’  (; Katie has also contributed to:;;; Siobhan has also contributed to: ; 

 Liz Dunphy is a journalist and film-maker. LauraKinsella is an academic and film-maker whose research at DIT focuses on using media as a tool for social justice.  This research perspective influenced the work they will present on 15th June. Their ‘No More Shame Project’, an initiative designed to give voice to women in Ireland who have had abortions and who have been silenced for decades by ‘fear of criminal reprimand and
crippling social stigma’. ‘Migrating feminist activism to a digital platform, this lens based presentation focuses on the methodology and generative process of No More Shame.’ ( ; )

 Ann Rossiter’s bookIreland's Hidden Diaspora:The 'abortion Trail' and the Making of a London-Irish Underground, 1980-2000was launched at our Women’s Studies conference in 2009 ( ).

As Ann says, ‘Since Edna O’Brien sent The Country Girls to London more than half a century ago and imbued them with much of her own life experiences, including sexual desire, Irish women of the diaspora have become increasingly emboldened to dig where they stand and tap into their own life stories despite being marginalised or even edged out of the ‘mainstream’ Irish community in Britain.’  Ann will present three three-minute tales from a work in progress. Describing them, she says – ‘Rather than being in the established genre of ‘flash fiction’, these are in the style of ‘flash’ life writing.’

Colette Nolan’scontribution promises to be both challenging and playful. She suggests that the fact that the word ‘cunt’ is mainly used in anger or hate but very rarely in joy or love speaks volumes ... ‘ She works to encourage ‘the use of this word in a positive way’ . Colette’s workshops use poetry and Cuntcraft to encourage women to tell their stories. She will use spoken word performance, a continuous loop presentation of images from previous events and play-dough on 15th June. ( )

Lynne Glasscoe is a business woman and trainer who recently returned to Ireland after working in the Caribbean, Singapore and Central Asia. She raises a sustainable entrepreneur's questions about feminist activism and the arts. Asking us to be honest about the extent to which we are talking amongst ourselves, she considers some ways in which feminist activists might draw on entrepreneurial thinking to get their
messages out.




Women’s Studies with the Department of Government


University College Cork (UCC)




Women in Politics:

From Quotas to Representation


9.30am – 1.30pm

Friday 15th June 2012


Room 212, O’Rahilly Building

University College Cork


Legislation on political party funding and candidate gender quotas is currently being debated in Dáil Éireann.  The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill 2011 provides for a 30% gender quota for party candidates at the next election, rising to 40% seven years thereafter.  Non-compliant parties will risk financial penalties.


On Friday 15th June, the Department of Government and Women’s Studies (UCC) will host a morning seminar examining the introduction of gender quotas and its implications for candidate selection and women’s representation in Ireland.  Drawing from the British experience of affirmative action measures, the seminar will discuss the link between women’s descriptive and substantive representation.  The seminar will also examine the impact of women’s (under) representation on policymaking.    


Speakers include Minister Kathleen Lynch, Prof. Sarah Childs (Bristol University), Orla O’Connor (National Women’s Council of Ireland) and Fiona Buckley (University College Cork)


The seminar takes place in Room 212 of the O’Rahilly Building, UCC.  While attendance at the seminar is free of charge, attendees are asked to pre-register to ensure availability of seating.



From X to A B C: 20 Years On


Saturday 25th February 2012


Hosted by the Board of Women’s Studies UCC in association with Cork Feminista


Venue: Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, College Road, Cork

Room G05


11.00 AM- 1.30PM


Invited speakers : Dr Lisa Smyth (Lecturer in Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast);

Dr Brenda Daly (Lecturer in Law, Dublin City University);

Dr Mary Favier (Media spokesperson for Doctors for Choice);

Niall Behan ( CEO Irish family Planning Association).

This film will be shown  by Niall Behan on the day: video

Papers and Biographies


 Dr Lisa Smyth (Lecturer in Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast):

Title: Citizenship as Recognition: abortion politics since the X Case.

 How are struggles over women’s citizenship changing in the decades since the X case? This paper explores the consequences of that case, understood as an important moment of crisis in Ireland’s normative order. Attention is focused on the shifting status of gender equality, as long-term interactions continue to play out between those women who have been forced to travel in order to access legal abortions, the Irish state, international human rights law and politics, and domestic and international lobby groups. The dynamic public recognition of a range of norms, needs and interests across a variety of contexts, from the street to the European Court of Human Rights, have the potential to reconfigure the character of women’s citizenship, in ways which could not only provide stronger entitlements for those in need, but also in turn allow the role of citizen to be more fully inhabited and creatively remade by women themselves.


Dr Lisa Smyth Biographical information

 Lisa is a Lecturer in Sociology at Queen’s University Belfast, and has also been a visiting professor at San Diego State University’s Department of Women’s Studies. Her research interests lie in the fields of social roles, norms, recognition and action theory. Her forthcoming book, The Demands of Motherhood: Agents, Roles and Recognition (Palgrave Macmillan), is due to be published in May 2012. Her previous work includes Abortion and Nation: the Politics of Reproduction in Contemporary Ireland.


Dr Brenda Daly (Lecturer in Law, Dublin City University):

Title:  ‘Braxton Hicks’ or birth of a new era? The impact of ABC on Irish abortion law.

 This paper examines the impact of recent European Court of Human Rights’ jurisprudence regarding the Constitutional right of access to abortion in Ireland. The paper will consider whether the ECtHR’s decision in A, B, C v Ireland could result in a liberalisation of Ireland’s abortion laws.


Dr Brenda Daly

 Brenda’s doctoral research examined the issue of legal accountability of the medical profession from the patient perspective. Her primary research interests focus on healthcare law, patients’ rights and the effectiveness of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms used to determine accountability. Brenda has a particular interest in women’s rights to healthcare. Brenda is a member of the Patients’ Rights Research Team (a collaborative research team involving the School of Nursing and School of Law & Government at DCU) which undertook “A Review of the European Charter of Patients’ Rights: Health Care Rights and Responsibilities in Ireland” in April 2005.


 Dr Mary Favier (Media spokesperson for Doctors for Choice):

 Title: Twenty years since the X case.  Have health professionals made any difference?

 This paper will reflect on the health and medical related aspects of abortion care and progress since the X case.  Health professionals have an important but underdeveloped role in the abortion debate in Ireland.  Addressing the culture of silence within the nursing and medical professions remains an important priority. Recent research suggests that the doctors particularly GPs are less anti-choice than previously thought. Training in abortion care is changing and developments such as Medical Students for Choice are beginning to have an impact.


Dr Mary Favier

 Mary is a founder member of Doctors for Choice and organisation the advocates for free legal safe abortion in Ireland. She is a GP in Cork city. She has been a postgraduate education tutor and most recently has been chair of the Education committee of the Irish College of GPs.  She undertakes expert witness work in the medical indemnity area and is on the editorial board of the GP magazine Forum.


 Niall Behan ( CEO Irish family Planning Association):

 Title: ‘Have you not sorted that out yet?’  Turning support for abortion rights into legislative action.

 This paper explores why legislation for abortion in even the most limited circumstances has not been introduced in Ireland and suggests what pro-choice advocates need to do next.


Niall Behan

 Niall Behan is chief executive of the IFPA and has over twelve years’ experience leading NGOs in Ireland. As head of Ireland’s leading sexual and reproductive health provider, Mr. Behan is responsible for the overall implementation of the organisation’s strategic goals and objectives including medical service delivery, education, counselling, training and policy development. Prior to his work in the NGO sector, Mr. Behan worked as personal assistant to the Minister for Social Welfare.



Women’s History Association of Ireland


Hosted by Women’s Studies UCC

In Association with the School of History


Gender and Sexual Politics/ the Politics of Sexuality in Ireland


Friday 27th May and Saturday 28th May 2011


Friday 27th May Venue: West Wing 5 (Main Campus)


5.30 p.m. -6.00 p.m. Registration


6.00 p.m. Welcome


Symposium on Marriage in Ireland


Professor Maria Luddy (Warwick) and Professor Mary O’Dowd (QUB)


Professor Maria Luddy and Professor Mary O’Dowd will conduct a symposium on their AHRC-funded project, Marriage in Ireland, 1660-1925.


Funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Marriage in Ireland, 1660-1925, project will produce a major study of the history of marriage in Ireland. Themes it set out to examine included control of marriage by church and state; choosing a marriage partner and negotiation of formal and informal marriages; experience and reality of married life; and what happened when things went wrong, including how partners separated and how separation was viewed by family, community, church and state authorities.


Maria Luddy is Professor of Modern Irish History at the University of Warwick.  She has published widely on Irish women's history.  Her most recent book is Prostitution and Irish Society, 1800-1940 (Cambridge, 2007).   She is currently working, with Professor Mary O'Dowd on the AHRC-funded project A history of marriage in Ireland, 1660-1925.


Mary O’Dowd is Professor of Gender History at Queen’s University Befast. Her research interests have focussed on early modern Ireland and more recently on women and gender in Irish history.  She was a founding member of the Women’s History Association of Ireland and served as president of the International Federation for Research in Women’s History, 2000–2005.  She is a member of the Irish Manuscripts Commission. 


7.30 p.m. – 8.15 p.m. Wine Reception in the Staff Common Room hosted by the School of History.


 The MacCurtain/Cullen Prize for 2011will be presented during the wine reception in Staff Common Room.


 8.15 p.m. WHAI Conference Dinner in the Staff Restaurant

Saturday 28th May Venue: Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, College Road


9.30 a.m. – 10.00 a.m.  Registration



10.00 a.m. -10.45 a.m.  Keynote speaker Dr Leeann Lane (DCU)Venue G04


Single Women and Sex in the Newly Independent Irish State.


Dr Leeann Lane is Head of the Irish Studies Department at Mater Dei Institute of Education, a college of Dublin City University. Her book Rosamond Jacob: Third Person Singular was published by UCD in 2010. She has published on the co-operative work of George Russell and on the children's novelist Patricia Lynch.


10.45 a.m. -11.10 a.m.      Break - teas and coffees


11.10 a.m. – 12.40 p.m. Parallel Sessions

Panel I:  Sexual Politics and Crime   Venue GO4

Chair: Liz Steiner-Scott


Bláithnaid Nolan (UCD) (IRCHSS scholar): Was ‘Unnatural Crime’ the Real ‘Convict Stain’ of Van Diemen’s Land?


Dr Conor Reidy (UL): Gender bias and the enforcement of the Inebriates Act (Ireland) 1898: the case of the State Inebriate Reformatory at Ennis.


John Johnston-Kehoe (TCD) (IRCHSS scholar): The gendered politics of policing sex in Dublin, 1930-1960.



Panel 2: History and Current issues of Sexuality Venue  BHSC_102 (upstairs)

Chair: Dr Jennifer Redmond


Dr Linda Connolly (UCC): Historicising reproductive rights in Ireland since the 1960s: from fertility ‘control’ to ‘the promotion of’ (more) fertility.


Dr. Mary Muldowney (TCD): Breaking the Silence: Pro-Choice Activism in Ireland since 1983.


Dr Elizabeth Kiely (UCC): Living ‘in Seventh Heaven on Walton’s Mountain’ and not in the Real World: Analysing the Public Debate on the Irish Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Programme, 1996-2002.


12.40 p.m. 2.00 p.m. Lunch


***For WHAI members, the Associations AGM will be held in BHSC_ 104 (upstairs) at 1.30 pm



Saturday afternoon sessions



2.00 p.m. – 3.30 p.m. Panel 3: Body Politics Venue G04

Chair: Dr Clare O’Halloran


Dr Ann Daly (Independent Scholar):  ‘...a sudden and complete revolution in the female’ : The Adolescent Girl in Post-Famine Ireland.


Dr Aoife Bhreatnach (Independent Scholar): Bodies and Barracks: the medical treatment of men, women and children in the nineteenth-century British Army.


Dr Tanya Ní Mhuirthile (UCC): Building Bodies:  A Legal History of Medicalisation and Pathologisation of Intersex Bodies in Ireland.


3.30p.m. -3.45p.m.  Break – teas and coffees


3.45 p.m. – 4.45 p.m. Panel 4: Mid-Twentieth Century Perspectives Venue G04

Chair: Dr Mary McAuliffe


Dr Bryce Evans (UCD):“The married woman’s place, the mother of the family, is in the home”: the ‘Architect of Modern Ireland’ and Irish Women.


Jacinta Kelly (Manchester) Christine Hallett (Manchester) Jane Brooks (Manchester):  ‘To think I went off to England and I didn’t even know the facts of life’: Irish civilian nurses in Britain during the Second World War.


Abstracts and Biographies


Dr Aoife Bhreatnach

 Bodies and Barracks: the medical treatment of men, women and children in the nineteenth-century British Army.

 Army medical oficers provided treatment and medicine to all in the military family: men, women, children and servants. Many barracks had hospitals and a important duty of the medical officer was to supervise it’s operations. In fact, most medical officers were as preoccupied with the physical condition of the buildings as with the physical maladies presented by human beings. In his annual return on death, sickness and disability, an army doctor was careful to discuss ill-health in the context of the barrack’s built environment. Some of these barracks were huge complexes, capable of housing and training up to 1000 men. Although as architecturally prominent as asylums, workhouses and prisons, the relationship of these buildings to their surroundings and the people who lived in them, has not been adequately theorised. War office administrators believed there was an intimate connection between each barrack, the surrounding population and landscape, and martial illhealth, analysing morbity and mortality statistics accordingly. Some barracks were undoubtedly more unhealthy that others: for example, enteric fever (typhoid) was a persistent problem in the Royal Barracks in Dublin.

The focus on the barrack architecture by medical officers was, in part, a natural outcome of the forms they were required to complete. It also reflects the nineteenth-century obsession with drainage and ventiallation. However, appended to the voluminous barrack return form, the medical officers sent accounts of individual cases to London. Here the individual experience of sickness and treatment was captured. There is a wonderful immediacy to these case histories, possibly because they were compiled from contemporaneous case notes. When placed alongside the tables and statistics, these case histories show how medical doctors treated military paitents. This paper will discuss the experience of sickness and health in the context of selected Irish barracks, describing the gendered nature of medical treatment, and how this was mediated by the institutional architecture of the barracks.

Dr Aoife Bhreatnach, is a graduate of UCC and De Montfort University. She has held the Irish Government Senior Scholarship at Heartford College (2003-4) and an IRCHSS Post-Doctoral Fellowship (2004-6) at NUIM. She is the author of Becoming Conspicuous: Irish Travellers, Society and the State (Dublin 2006).



Dr Ann Daly

‘.. a sudden and complete revolution in the female’: the medical profession and the adolescent girl in post-Famine Ireland.

This paper will examine the medical preoccupation with the female adolescent in Ireland in the second half of the nineteenth century. While much research has focused on the pathologising of the female body in nineteenth century medical discourse, this paper seeks to examine the subject in a post-Famine and specifically adolescent context. An emerging middle class, the result of increase in real wages and the overall increase in the size if farm holdings in Ireland, was to have profound effects on the social landscape of Ireland at this time. New ideas of respectability and moral conformity would influence the developing and ambitious medical profession. In the absence of a privileged or aristocratic class, the efficacious nature of the middle classes in Ireland is a subject that requires closer research.

This paper seeks to explore how increasingly doctors in Ireland applied essentially middle class ideas of respectability and the idealization of the family in their discourses on the female body. By examining leading medical journals, textbooks and hospital records I seek to highlight how the years between childhood and marriage was defined as a fraught and precarious period in the life of a female. With the backdrop of later marriages and the increasing importance of childhood, female adolescence had new significance in late nineteenth century Ireland. This paper will highlight the list of ambiguous mystery illnesses that were viewed by the medical profession as inherent in pubescent females. The scientific question of a weak and vulnerable female biological system will be explored in terms of the socio-economic realities of Ireland at this time. The ongoing struggle of medicine to find an organic aetiology for such illnesses points both to the anxiety of a profession struggling for respectability and a society’s new willingness to protect and pathologise female puberty. 

This paper will examine firstly the increasing authority of the medical profession in Ireland in the second half of the nineteenth century, an influence that would match the social and moral impact of the Catholic Church. The second section of the paper will examine how the female body became defined as sick by doctors, their discourse through medical journals, textbooks and handbooks emphasized the inherent weaker state of the female physical system that had resonance with the discourse of the middle classes and corroborated the view that reproduction was the most important function of the female Thirdly the paper will examine the ambigious illnesses such as (among others) menstrual disorders, anemia, chlorosis and hysteria that were specifically reserved for pubescent girls . Finally the paper will attempt to raise questions of the lure of sickness for girls and examine, tentatively the intimate connection between these vague illnesses and femininity. Did girls need to be sick to be feminine?

Dr Ann Daly is a recent PhD graduate from NUI Maynooth. She is currently teaching history in second level (Ratoath College). Her thesis, entitled The Dublin Medical Press and Medical authority in Ireland 1850 – 1890, looked at contemporary medical journals as a portal to exploring women's lives in nineteenth century and how the medical profession increasingly saw their role as moving far beyond the art of healing, defining their remit as moral guardians of society.



Dr Linda Connolly

Historicizing reproductive rights in Ireland since the 1960s: from fertility 'control' to 'the promotion of' (more) fertility.

 This paper will attempt to historicize the transformation in the public discourse in Ireland from the 1960s onwards in the arena of reproductive rights. In particular, a shift from the emphasis on fertility control and limitation from the 1960s (evident in campaigns to legalise contraception and abortion) through to the 1980s towards a more recent emphasis on promoting and generating more fertility (through reproductive technologies and policies concerned with addressing the overall decline in fertility in Ireland since the 1980s in particular, for example) will be mapped and analysed. The interrelationship between fertility trends and the politics of reproductive rights in Ireland, from the 1960s on, will be explored.


Dr Linda Connolly is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Sociology and Philosophy in University College Cork. She has published a number of articles and books primarily in the field of Irish studies on a range of subjects, including social movements and politics, feminism and the women's movement. Books include The Irish Women's Movement: From Revolution to Devolution (2003) and Documenting Irish Feminisms (2004 co-authored with Tina O’Toole). She is a co-editor and the Managing Editor of the Irish Journal of Sociology.


Dr Bryce Evans

“The married woman’s place, the mother of the family, is in the home”: the ‘Architect of Modern Ireland’ and Irish Women

Seán Lemass (1899-1971), commonly lionised as the ‘Architect of Modern Ireland’, uttered the above words on “the married woman’s place” during a Dáil debate in 1952. While equal pay for women performing work of equal value as men was the case ‘in the United States and in most of the Scandinavian countries’, in Ireland - Lemass argued - it was ‘contrary to our way of life’.

Almost uniquely among the ‘great men’ of twentieth century Irish history, Lemass enjoys an elevated standing in the popular imagination. Synonymous with modern, forward-looking Ireland, his ‘progressive’, ‘pragmatic’ outlook is often juxtaposed with the anti-materialism and ‘backwardness’ of his colleague Éamon de Valera. This paper departs from existing biographical literature on Lemass, exploring the significant gap in knowledge surrounding his attitude towards Irish women and their place in society and the economy.

Based on extensive research and re-examination of the life and career of this former Taoiseach, this paper outlines Lemass’s attitudes towards female employment, women’s rights and roles, and changing sexual cultures. It contextualises and deconstructs Lemass’s public discourse on women across five decades of political life. Using previously unpublished archival material, it re-discovers the voices of women who were integral to Lemass’s public and private life. Today, as the assumptions of ‘Modern Ireland’ are agonisingly reappraised, this paper takes a fresh look at its ‘Architect’. This is the story of the ‘Architect of Modern Ireland’ with the women written back in.  

Dr Bryce Evans is an historian based at the Humanities Institute of Ireland, University College Dublin. A graduate of the University of Warwick and the NUI, he teaches modern Irish and European history in the School of History and Archives, UCD. His latest publication - The Other Lemass - is out in August 2011, published by the Collins Press (Cork).


John Johnston-Kehoe


The gendered politics of policing sex in Dublin, 1930-1960

A consciousness of criminal sexual behaviour has become an undeniable element of popular and academic conceptions of twentieth-century Irish history. One contribution of historians to this discourse has been to refute the contention that unspeakable acts such as the sexual abuse of children were literally unheard of in the past.

 My paper seeks to contribute to our understanding of the historical response to criminal sexual conduct by examining how sex was policed in Dublin by the Garda during the middle third of the twentieth-century. The paper is based on published police statistics, unpublished data collated by the police for government, and an extensive sample survey of the prosecution of Dublin sex crimes at the Circuit and Central Criminal Court, 1927-1960.

 What do the sources suggest about the relative intensity with which various sexual offences were policed and prosecuted? How potent was the State in prosecuting sex offenders? What role did policewomen have in policing sex crime in Dublin, and how does an understanding of how sex was policed inform a history of women in policing in Ireland?


John Johnston-Kehoe is an IRCHSS Scholar affiliated to the Centre for Contemporary Irish History at Trinity College, Dublin. The title of his research project is Women in Policing in Twentieth Century Ireland.


 Jacinta Kelly, Prof Christine Hallett and Dr Jane Brooks.

 ‘To think I went off to England and I didn’t even know the facts of life’: Irish civilian nurses in Britain during the Second World War

‘Two things in life are certain – death and nurses’. This popular adage gives rise to a perception that nurses are more versed in sex education and thereby conferred with greater promiscuity by virtue of their occupational membership. For thousands of Irish women who travelled to Britain during the Second World War this was furthest from the truth. As a result of economic depression in Ireland and the emergence of work and professional opportunities for women in Britain during the Second World War, especially nurses, substantial numbers of young, often teenage women found themselves in the position of economic migrancy and enforced separatism.

This study aimed to understand the sex education preparation of women who travelled from Ireland during the Second World War to train as nurses in Britain during the period 1939-1945.Through 23 oral history interviews with apprentice nurses weexplored how women removed from their native existence understood and negotiated their sex education experience and what meanings they ascribed to these personal memories. Despite provision of biological and mechanical understandings of sex education in preparatory nurse training the nuances of sex education remained a source of puzzlement, mystery and trepidation. The absence of a role taken by parents and foundational education system in Ireland ensured that sexual naïveté prevailed amongst Irish nurses.

Jacinta Kelly is a registered nurse and currently a doctoral student at the UK Centre for the History of Nursing & Midwifery, University of Manchester School of Nursing, and Midwifery & Social Work. Christine Hallett

Professor Christine Hallett, UK Centre for the History of Nursing & Midwifery, University of Manchester School of Nursing, and Midwifery & Social Work, Manchester, UK.

Dr Jane Brooks, UK Centre for the History of Nursing & Midwifery, University of Manchester School of Nursing, and Midwifery & Social Work, Manchester, UK.


Dr Elizabeth Kiely (UCC)

Living ‘in Seventh Heaven on Walton’s Mountain’ and not in the Real World: Analysing the Public Debate on the Irish Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) Programme.

The first formal programme on Relationships and Sexuality Education was introduced in the Irish schooling system in the late 1990s. Its introduction stimulated an active debate in the Irish media.  For the purpose of this paper, the coverage of RSE in the letters pages of two newspapers The Irish Times (1 /1/ 1996 – 31/12/2002) and the Irish Examiner (1 /7/1997-31/12/2002) provides the body of material for analysis.  Influenced by poststructuralist modes of enquiry and utilising the tools of critical discourse analysis, I explore the content and uncover the common stylistic features of RSE media contributions.  I also analyse the competing discursive perspectives on RSE to explore what they reveal about perspectives on children / students, family, school and nation.  This paper is derived from a PhD thesis on the Sex Education Curriculum, which was completed in 2004 and was supported by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Dr Elizabeth (Liz) Kiely is a senior lecturer in Social Policy in the School of Applied Social Studies in UCC. She teaches modules on research methodology, feminist social policy, youth policy and practice and penal policy and she has published work in these fields.  She is a member of the teaching team on the Masters in Women’s Studies Programme in UCC. 


 Dr. Mary Muldowney


Breaking the Silence: Pro-Choice Activism in Ireland since 1983.


This paper will consider the pro-choice movement in Ireland from the perspective of activists in the various campaigns on the issue of abortion that took place in Ireland between the early 1980s and the early years of the twenty first century. It will present extracts from oral history interviews with people who participated in the Anti-Amendment Campaign in 1983, the widespread protests about the X Case in 1992 and the campaigns associated with the 1992 and 2002 Referenda, as well as campaigns on other “hard cases” and various initiatives to promote the inclusion of abortion as part of reproductive health services in Ireland. The stories of pro-choice activism will be balanced with an examination of other sources, such as an analysis of the voting patterns in the referenda and comparison of the propaganda documents produced by anti-abortion and pro-choice groups from 1983 to 2002.

 The forces of reaction that were so influential in 1983 have mainly modified their agendas to coincide with public sympathies or have retreated from the stage. To what extent that can be attributed to the efforts of the campaigners featured in this paper will be considered. Another key focus of the paper will be on the effect that attitudes to gender have had on the social change evidenced by the three Referendum results. The interviewees all referred to the silence about abortion that has been a feature of dealing with the issue in Ireland and there will be comparisons between the experiences of older activists who were involved in the early campaigns and younger people who have become active since the 2002 Referendum.

 Dr. Mary Muldowney is a Research Associate at the Centre for Contemporary History at Trinity College Dublin. She is the author of The Second World War and Irish Women. An Oral History (2007) and Trinity and its Neighbours. An Oral History (2009) as well as many book chapters and journal articles using oral history interviews as her primary source. Her current research interests include an oral history of the Irish pro-choice movement and an investigation into the employment of women in Irish railway companies during both world wars.


Dr Tanya Ní Mhuirthile (UCC)

Building Bodies:  A Legal History of Medicalisation and Pathologisation of Intersex Bodies in Ireland.

Historically, the law recognised three types of bodies as conferring legal status: male, female and hermaphrodite. Contemporaneous to increased specialisation in medical knowledge about hermaphroditic conditions, the laws governing the registration of persons were introduced: intersex is notable in its absence from these legal provisions. Drawing on case law which has directly concerned the manner in which bodies are legally categorised as either male or female, this paper identifies the manner in which intersex ‘disappeared’ from legal consciousness.

It will then turn to an examination of the effect which this categorisation has had on intersex people, through an exploration of those few cases where the person before the court has been acknowledged as intersex. Of particular importance in this context is the role of the birth certificate as both a historical record, or ‘snapshot’, of events at a particular moment in time and as a crucial and current identification document.

Finally the paper turns to a brief consideration of how the historical acceptance of the intersex body in law, and the ability to self determine the manner in which the person chooses to interact with the legal system might be re-introduced. To this end, the paper will briefly examine two legislative reform possibilities: the introduction of gender recognition legislation and the amendment of the system of birth registration.

Dr Tanya Ní Mhuirthile is a graduate of University College Cork (BCL 2000; LLB 2005; PhD 2010) and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (MDra 2002). She joined the Law Faculty at University College Cork in October 2009.  Tanya has recently completed her doctoral studies on intersex and the law. She is a member of the board of directors of Transgender Equality Network Ireland. Her research interests lie in the areas of consent and medical ethics, human rights law and gender theory.


 Bláithnaid Nolan

Was ‘Unnatural Crime’ the Real ‘Convict Stain’ of Van Diemen’s Land?

This paper focuses on how the sexuality of convict women transported in the first half of the nineteenth century to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) was monitored by the British establishment to argue that the anxious discussion and ensuing policies used to observe, curtail and ‘correct’ convict women’s bodies reveal the processes by which Victorian gender, class and race regimes were socially constructed at this time.  The body of convict women was the foil for the idealised notions of white, domesticated femininity.  The paper closes with the argument that convict women used various strategies of resistance or revolt, and were considered to have committed the greatest offence when they traversed the feminine into the terrain of the ‘masculine’ – ‘lesbian’ acts can therefore be perceived as one these strategies of resistance or revolt.

Bláithnaid Nolan has a degree in Communication Studies (DCU) and an MA in Women’s Studies (UCD) as well as in Film Studies and Television Studies (DCU). She is currently in the second year of PhD in Women's Studies, in the Women's Studies Centre, in the School for Social Justice, in University College Dublin, as an Irish Research Council for Human Social Sciences, Government of Ireland Scholar. In 2010 she was awarded the Lord Edward Fitzgerald Memorial Fund Travel Grant and travelled to Tasmania.


Dr Conor Reidy (University of Limerick)


Gender bias and the enforcement of the Inebriates Act (Ireland) 1898: the case of the State Inebriate Reformatory at Ennis


The Irish State Inebriate Reformatory was opened at Ennis local prison in county Clare in 1899 as an institution for the punishment and reform of habitual criminal drunkards. The reformatory came about as a result of the Inebriates Act 1898 and during a period when British penal administrators were becoming more open to experimentation. The reformatory at Ennis was one of four such institutions that opened in Ireland between 1899 and 1910, the other three being operated by clerical orders, local authorities and philanthropists.

 The most significant feature of the system, both in Britain and Ireland, was the disproportionately higher number of women detained for alcohol-related criminality. This was in spite of a far greater number of convictions for males. Historians have posited numerous possible reasons to account for this imbalance including the ‘reclamation of women as the future wives and mothers of a healthier imperial race’. (Hunt, Mellor and Turner, 1990).

 This paper will attempt to understand the specific nature of this double-standard as it applied in Ireland from the opening of Ennis Inebriate Reformatory in 1899 until its closure in 1917. It will open with an outline of the inebriate reformatory system and how it came about in Ireland. The second section will profile the inmate population at Ennis with specific reference to gender division, criminality, and occupation. The third and final section will consider the gender imbalance among Irish inebriates. It will attempt to identify the reasons for this imbalance. It will discuss the wider relationship between gender, criminality and imprisonment and offer conclusions as to why habitually drunken women were apparently treated differently from the other criminal classes.

 Dr Conor Reidy is a lecturer in History at the University of Limerick and is the author of  Ireland's 'moral hospital': the Irish borstal system 1906-1956 (Irish Academic Press, Dublin, 2009). He is currently working on a study of the Inebriate Reformatory System and penal reform in early twentieth century Ireland.






The Board of Women’s Studies

invites you to a celebration of

100 years of International Women’s Day and

20 years of the UCC Masters in Women’s Studies

Sunday 6th March, 2pm

The River Room, Glucksman Gallery, UCC


Featuring Ungovernable Bodies performing

‘This is my Constitution’

A play about Irish women’s campaign to change the draft 1937 Constitution

(based on materials from the period)

Written by Kathy D’Arcy, Directed by Judie Chambers


Moving in from the Margins: Women’s political representation in Ireland

organised by

Women's Studies UCC University College Cork (UCC) in conjunction with the Political Studies Association of Ireland (PSAI) Gender Politics Specialist Group. 


Saturday, 18th September 2010

Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, Room G04


Conference Programme

9.30 - 10.00:                Registration


10.00                           Welcome


10.00 – 10.20:             Opening Address

Mary White, TD, Minister for Equality, Integration and Human Rights


10.20 –11.30: Strategies for increasing women’s representation

Chair: Fiona Buckley – Department of Government, UCC


Prof. Yvonne Galligan (Queen’s University Belfast)

Leading by Example: Why it is important to have more women in Irish politics?


Susan McKay (National Women’s Council of Ireland)

I'm alright Jill: political power is fine for me but it would diminish and insult you. Irish women with power speak out against other women getting it.


11.30 – 11.45: Break


11.45 - 1.15: Impact of (under) representation of women on policy-making

Chair: Dr. Jacqui O’Riordan – Women’s Studies, UCC


Noirín Clancy (Women Into Public Life Project)

Supporting, Empowering, Transforming


Dr. Eileen Connolly (Dublin City University)

Women in Parliament and Substantive Representation - a Cautionary Tale?



Dr. Margaret O’Keeffe (Cork Institute of Technology)

Women’s Political Representation in Ireland: Taking ‘Particularity’ Seriously


Joanne Vance (National Women’s Council of Ireland)

Our Health and Our Wealth


1.15 – 2.15: Lunch


2.15 – 2.45: Ireland: An Unfinished Democracy


Senator Ivana Bacik (Rapporteur, Joint Oireachtas Committee)

Gender Injustice – Getting Women into Politics and into Power


2.45 – 3.30: A woman’s voice: women politicians’ experiences of political life in Ireland

Chair: Prof. Yvonne Galligan – Queen’s University Belfast


Máire Hoctor, TD

Gemma Hussey, former Cabinet Minister

Kathleen Lynch, TD

Senator Mary White


3.30 – 3.45: Break


3.45 – 4.30: Roundtable Discussion

Chair: Dr. Sandra McAvoy – Women’s Studies, UCC


Each session will begin with contributions from invited speakers. This will be followed by a questions and answers session on the themes addressed.  Contributions are welcome and encouraged.


 Thanks to Dr. Jacqui O’Riordan for technical support.



Irish Feminisms and the Future

Facilitated by the Board of Women’s Studies

and Supported by the IFPA as part of its 40th anniversary celebrations

 University College Cork

 Saturday 9th May 2009

Brookfield Health Sciences Complex (College Road) Room G05


What is the future for feminism and the women's movement in Ireland? How can we build on what has been achieved since the 1970s while facing the challenges of the current economic situation?


9.30am-10.00am am Registration


10.00am- 10.30am. Welcome followed by Keynote Speakers:


Ailbhe Smyth (Women’s Studies UCD)and Therese Caherty

IS FEMINISM NECESSARY? Why we set up Feminist Open Forum


 10.30 am – 11.15 am Session  I


Chair Liz Steiner-Scott


Orla O’Connor  (Head of Policy National Women’s Council of Ireland) 

 Opportunity for welfare reform or further reinforcement of structural inequality for women.


Angela O’Connell MA (PhD candidate NUIG)

  “…a consistent act of radicalism” – lesbian families in a changing society


11.15am - 11.30 am   BREAK


11.30 am – 12.15 pm  Parallel Sessions as below.


11.30 am - 12.15 pm - Session II - in main lecture theatre G05

Chair Dr Maeve Conrick


 Mary Crilly MA (Director, Sexual Violence Centre, Cork)

 What has changed, if anything, in responses to sexual violence in the past twenty-five years?


Nusha Yonkova MA, MSc. (Anti-Trafficking Project Coordinator, Immigrant Council of Ireland)

 Globalisation, Sex Trafficking and Prostitution – The Experiences of Migrant Women In Ireland. (April 2009 report)


 11.30 am - 12.15 pm  - Session IIIin  BHSC_Room 104

Chair Dr Maire Leane


Ann Daly PhD

  ‘A craze for spaying’: gynaecology in Ireland 1860-1890. (The paper will briefly relate aspects of the issues involved to the Neary case.)


Martina Hynan M.Phil

 Joining the Dots ..… Birthing Experiences and Maternal Identity


12.15 am – 1.15 pm Session IV and Book Launch


Catherine Conlon MA (Ad Astra/Crisis Pregnancy Agency PhD Scholar, Women’s Studies Centre, School of Social Justice, UCD)

 Critical Reflections on ‘Crisis Pregnancy’ Research


Book Launch


Ann Rossiter’s book, Ireland’s Hidden Diaspora: the ‘abortion trail’ and the making of the London-Irish underground, 1980-2000, was published recently.


Ann Rossiter PhD (Irish Women’s Abortion Support Group (IWASG and Irish Abortion Solidarity Campaign (Iasc)).

 Anne will speak on her book and it will be formally launched.


1.15pm – 2.00 pm  LUNCH


2.00 pm-3.15 pm Session V


Chair Dr Orla O’Donovan


Patricia Kennedy B.Soc.Sc., M.Soc.Sc., PhD (UCD)

 Changes and Continuities in Maternity Policies: Comparison of Maternity Legislation in Estonia and Ireland


Anne Coakley PhD (Carlow College)

 Gender,Care and the Labour Market; The Changing Partnership between the State and the Family


Jen Dewan  PhD (Columbia NY)

'If You're Not In, Then You Can't Win': Feminist Activism and Social Change in Ireland.


3.15 p.m. -3.30 p.m.  BREAK


3.30-4.30 Round Table Session


An opportunity to discuss issues raised during the conference, to input ideas from the floor and perhaps to discuss any follow-up.


Biographies and Abstracts




Why we set up Feminist Open Forum


Feminist Open Forum was set up by Therese Caherty and Ailbhe Smyth in October 2008 to provide a new space for feminists to get together to discuss issues and ideas, to debate fresh views and perspectives, and to act strategically for change. Since then, there have been several meetings, a workshop and a rally, all in Dublin. In our presentation, we’ll talk about the personal and political reasons why we started FOF, and the Forum’s aims and activities so far. We hope to have a productive discussion with activists at the conference about how FOF can develop nationally to involve women all over Ireland.    


Therese Caherty is a journalist working and living in Dublin. She is co-founder of the Feminist Open Forum, a new space for feminists to get together to share views and experiences, to discuss current political issues, and to strategise and plan actions for change. FOF meets monthly.


Ailbhe Smyth is a feminist activist and educator. She lectured for many years in UCD where she directed WERRC, the Women’s Education, Research and Resource Centre. She is chair of the National Lesbian and Gay Federation, and is an active member of the People Before Profit Alliance. Currently, she works as a consultant with community and voluntary sector groups.  



Anne Coakley

 Gender,Care and the Labour Market; The Changing Partnership between the State and the Family

  Framing the analysis in the context of  the changing  economic landscape, this paper explores the  transitions  occurring in gender, care and the labour market .

  EU funded investment in childcare from the 1990s aimed to promote gender equality in the labour market in particular to facilitate women’s participation in paid work.   Unlike the high investment public provision model  found in Nordic countries, Ireland belongs to a group of countries including Australia and Canada where the  private market model is the focus of state funding on  childcare together with  direct cash subsidisation for parents. 

    In many European countries a state partnership with the family has evolved  sharing the responsibility of childcare.  Over a decade of extensive economic growth in Ireland, the lack of public investment in childcare as an investment in children represents a lost opportunity.  It also means that in these uncertain economic times the Government can further distance itself from a childcare service that is largely located in the private market.   This paper examines the changing partnership between the state and the family in the context of rising unemployment and further changes in migrationpatterns across Europe.  


Dr Anne Coakley is a lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at Carlow College.  Her research interests and publications are on gender and the welfare state, mothers and poverty and on transitions in gender, care  and the labour market.




Catherine Conlon MA (Ad Astra/Crisis Pregnancy Agency PhD Scholar, Women’s Studies Centre, UCC)

 Critical reflections on Crisis Pregnancy


Since deciding to research the issue of abortion among Irish women for my MA (Women’s Studies) Minor Thesis 1993-1994, I have continued to focus on the broad topic of crisis pregnancy in my research to date.   Between 1995 and 1998 I was a member of the Trinity College Dublin multi-disciplinary research teamwho conducted a large-scale government funded study entitled ‘Women and Pregnancy Study’ culminating in the publication by Government Publications of ‘Women and Crisis Pregnancy’ (Mahon, Conlon and Dillon, 1998).  This study recommendations’ were the basis for the establishment of the Crisis Pregnancy Agency. Between 2003 and 2006 I was commissioned by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency to undertake two pieces of research on issues in counselling and support services for women facing a crisis pregnancy (Conlon, 2005) and on the development of services for women concealing a pregnancy (Conlon, 2006).  Ten years after the publication of Women and Crisis Pregnancy, this paper sets out to explore some of the insights, understandings and questions that have arisen for me across all of these projects, unified by a focus on the situations faced by women faced with a crisis pregnancy in contemporary Ireland.  It is intended to be both reflexive and critical and to consider whether the knowledge generated through this research activity of mine has had any transformative impact on Irish women who continue to be subject to one of the most oppressive abortion regimes in the world.


Catherine Conlon graduated with an MA in Women’s Studies from UCD in 1994 and has since worked as a social researcher both within the university sector at Trinity College Dublin (Department of Sociology) and WERRC/WSC, University College Dublin, as well as in the public sector as Research Officer at the National Council on Ageing and Older People. As Research Co-ordinator at WERRC 1999-2006 she worked on a range of projects in the areas of social policy, gender and equality, gender and health, and women’s adult education. She is currently engaged in PhD research involving women concealing pregnancy with funding from UCD's Ad Astra programme and the Crisis Pregnancy Agency Fellowship programme. 



 Mary Crilly MA

 Violence Against Women in Ireland -26 years in the frontline


 I  have worked in the area of Sexual Violence since  1983. In that year  there were 260 cases of sexual crimes   reported to the Gardai.  In 2007, there were 1200 cases of sexual violence reported to the Gardai.  In  1983 the population was 3.5 million people. Now it’s over 4 million. Does this mean that there is an increase in Sexual Assaults or just more reporting.  Either way Ireland has the lowest conviction rate in Europe at 8%. Have attitudes changed towards victims or are they still deemed responsible for the behaviour of the perpetrator.      Let us  look at the  figures / developments and see what if anything has changed over the past 26 years.


Mary Crilly is a founder member and Director for 26 years of The Sexual Violence Centre Cork (Cork Rape Crisis Centre).   A feminist activist she has witnessed and been party to much of the change in Irish society and institutions over those 26 years.  She is most noted for her tireless campaigning for policy and legislative change in the fields of sexual violence, sex trafficking, domestic violence and human rights.  She is active at local, regional, national and international levels.  Side by side with activism is her commitment to ensuring the provision of the highest quality services to victims of violence.  She has received several honours for her work.  In 2007, she published,   Sexual Violence in Ireland. The Criminal Justice System A guide for Victims.  In 2008, Mary made the time to undertake the Masters Programme in Women’s Studies in UCC and for her thesis, researched the issue of Gender Proofing in City and County Development Plans.



Ann Daly PhD

 ‘A craze for spaying’: gynaecology in Ireland 1860-1890. (The paper will briefly relate aspects of the issues involved to the Neary case.)


As the nineteenth century progressed, the medical profession’s interest in the workings of the female body expanded. Increasingly, it believed that the functions of the female body – both physical and psychological – were inextricably linked to her reproductive system, in a way that had no correlation in men. The aim of this paper is to explore this medical preoccupation with the female body, specifically the uterus and how the Dublin Medical Press corroborated this medical hypothesis of femininity. The paper will firstly begin with a brief introduction to thenineteenth century medical journal – the Dublin Medical Press and outline its significance as a primary source. The paper will then explore the medical definition of the female body as pathological, and how this definition validated conventional ideas of femininity and women’s sexuality and ultimately lead to an increase in invasive gynaecological surgical procedures on women. The medical profession in the nineteenth century perpetuated the belief that sex and reproduction were more fundamental to female nature than to the nature of males. Puberty, menstruation, childbirth, the menopause, among other notable fundamentally female milestones, were estimated to influence the female body and mind in ways that had no correlation in men. The reproductive role of women was idealised and given new centrality but paradoxically femininity was, by definition, a deviation from the standard of health represented by the male and not only were her biological functions defined as diseased, they were also the breeding ground for a medley of psychological disorders. These beliefs, centred on the premise that the female’s physical and psychological disorders derived from her reproductive system and that pathology defined the norm of the female body, legitimised and sanctioned the medical authority over women. The ovary, fallopian tubes and most especially the uterus of women became pathological and were promoted by the Dublin Medical Press and other medical sources as indicators of the overall malady of women. These biological body parts became synonymous with the flawed female system that necessitated the surgical intervention of medical science. The paper will explore the alarming rise in gynaecological surgery in the 1870 and 1880’s and attempt to explain this increase. Finally (and briefly) I will juxtapose the nineteenth century preoccupation with gynaecologiocal surgery with the recent scandal in 2003 entries on the disgraced former consultant Dr. Michael Neary, who was struck off the medical register in 2003 for unnecessarily removing women’s wombs. The level of peripartum hysterectomies (carried out within six weeks of giving birth) in Drogheda was 20 times above the national or international average. Between 1974 and 1998, 188 of these types of hysterectomies were performed in Drogheda, 129 of them were by Dr. Neary. This paper will conclude that the medical profession has not learnt from the mistakes of the past. The medical profession has policed itself and the failure of this practice is clear to see in the Neary case.


Ann Daly is a recent PhD graduate from NUI Maynooth. She is currently teaching history in second level (Ratoath College)and taking undergraduate tutorials in Maynooth. Her thesis, entitled The Dublin Medical Press and Medical authority in Ireland 1850 – 1890, looked at contemporary medical journals as a portal to exploring women's lives in nineteenth century and how the medical profession increasingly saw their role as moving far beyond the art of healing, defining their remit as moral guardians of society.



Jennifer Dewan PhD

 'If You're Not In, Then You Can't Win': Feminist Activism and Social Change in Ireland

 Ireland is a drastically different place than it was when the ad hoc committee called for the establishment of a National Commission of the Status of Women in 1968.  The economic boom beginning in the 1990s only heightened the larger structural impacts of social change wrought by modernization over the past few decades.  The success of the Irish economy (and indeed the success of the women's movement) led to the restructuring of social relations indicative of late capitalism, and this in turn has altered the conditions of possibility for feminist activism.  The women's movement — if indeed it can be called a 'movement' — has changed dramatically since the 1970s.  By the mid-1980s, feminist activists had successfully publicized many previously stigmatized issues from divorce to abortion, strategically lobbied the government for equality and contraception legislation, and gained funding for a variety of women's services.  However, conflicts over divisive issues disallowed any long-term cohesiveness from forming, and the history of the women's movement is marked more by fragmentation than cohesiveness. 

The diversification and professionalisation of the women's movement allowed it to become 'mainstream', integrated into the workings of the state in the form of 'state feminism'.  Networked to but existing beyond this 'mainstream' feminism is an entire realm of political practices that at times functions as only implicitly feminist.  On the ground, feminist practices and subjectivities are fragmented and decentralized, existing in a diverse array of local and community groups, activists, practices, and ideologies.  Activists no longer attempt to create a unified 'social movement' in a traditional sense, but practice 'movement activism' where groups and individuals coalesce into campaigns at particular moments for important issues. It is clear both from the activity of mainstream organizations associated with 'state feminism' and from the proliferation of local and community groups and activists focused on bettering women's lives in ever different ways, as well as the networks formed between and among these strands, that activists continue to 'practice politics' around women's issues even if the conditions that underlie those practices have altered in response to larger economic, political and social changes in Irish society. This paper will explore some of these aspects of the feminist politics and their relationship to the conditions of late capitalism to better understand feminist practices and subjectivities now.


Jennifer K. DeWan's  paper is part of a larger dissertation research project on feminism, political activism and social change in Ireland, based on over two years of ethnographic fieldwork in Cork.  She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University in New York City in May 2008.  She is currently editing her dissertation for publication.   



 Martina Hynan M.Phil

 Joining the Dots ..… Birthing Experiences and Maternal Identity

 “Connect or Join the dots: to understand the relationship between different ideas or experiences." 


Etymology: from a children's activity in which a picture can be seen when you draw lines to connect numbered dots” Keywords: Narratives, maternal identity, visual culture, feminist theory.


During the past year I have worked as an artist-in-the-community with a group of women in Co. Clare exploring ways of telling their birth stories visually, this has resulted in the creation of Keeping Mum, a community art project, offering participants a creative and supportive environment to reflect on their birth experiences.  We have completed the research and development phase of Keeping Mum.  During this time the women re-engaged with personal memories of giving birth and have created individual artworks representing a specific aspect of their experiences.

   In this paper I would like to share my reflections on the development of Keeping Mum and also suggest ways of deepening and broadening this project. Coming from both an art and women’s studies background allows me the opportunity to create connections across visual culture, feminist theory and body politics.  I believe that it is by creating connections, by ‘joining the dots’ that we will create a comprehensive narrative one capable of reflecting our many and varied experiences of being mothers in Ireland today.


Martina Hynan is a feminist visual artist living in Ennis, Co. Clare. She is currently working as co-ordinator and artist with the community-based art project,  “Keeping Mum”, exploring ways to share birth stories visually. The experience of becoming a mother in 1998 has shaped much of Martina’s research interests surrounding birth and motherhood. She has taught Women and Visual Culture as part of the Women’s Studies Programme at NUI Galway. She ran the feminist art workshop ‘Drawing on Feminism’, as part of this year’s International Women’s Day Conference, hosted by the National Women’s Council of Ireland and Banulacht, at Croke Park, Dublin.

She is actively involved with Birth Choice Clare and the Clare Women’s Network.

Martina has an M.Phil in Women’s Studies from Trinity College Dublin and a BA (Hons) from the University of Wales.



 Patricia Kennedy

 Changes and Continuities in Maternity Policies: Comparison of Maternity Legislation in Estonia and Ireland

This paper draws on path dependency theory to explore continuities and change in maternity protection legislation in relation to time (leave) and money (benefits) in Ireland and Estonia in an attempt to contribute to comparative literature on maternity policy. The choice of countries allows for the consideration of the relationship between religious ideas and political ideologies and the development of social policies. Both societies have changed unrecognisably in the last eighty years since they achieved independence, Estonia in 1918 and Ireland in 1921. Ireland has changed from an economically depressed, inward-looking protectionist state to a thriving outward-looking Celtic Tiger economy and member of the European Union, now facing the challenges of the global economic recession. Estonia experienced a brief period of independence, followed by 50 years of Soviet occupation and re-independence which then enabled the country to become a member of the European Union. Both are small countries on the periphery of powerful colonising eastern neighbours. Both countries inherited the germs of social policy from their former overlords. Drawing on path dependency theory this article explores critical junctures which have shaped maternity policies for the future. It shows that in both countries, despite major changes and ‘explosions’ continuities persist. It suggests that path dependency may be a useful theory as we go forward in highlighting the current economic crisis as an ‘explosive moment’ which will undoubtedly shape policies for women in Ireland and raises issues in relation to future continuities and change.


Heili Einasto, MA in Gender and Culture from Central European University (Budapest), additional studies in International Women's Univeristy in Hannover (2000), University of California, Los Angeles and University of Turku, Finland. She is currently a lecturer in Tallinn University.

Patricia Kennedy, B.Soc.Sc., M.Soc.Sc., PhD  is a Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, School of Applied Social Science, UCD.  She is currently involved in European research project funded by DAPHNE on the prevention of sexual and gender based violence among refugee/ asylum community.





Angela O’Connell (NUI Galway)

 “…a consistent act of radicalism” – lesbian families in a changing society

 At the height of the economic boom known as The Celtic Tiger, Ireland had the second highest per capita Gross Domestic Product in the European Union. Despite this national wealth, however, women were still experiencing poverty as a result of gender discrimination, including a gender pay gap of between 11% and 14 % (NAPinclusion, 2007 – 2016) compounded for marginalised women by a myriad of other forms of ongoing discrimination.

During its period of economic growth, Ireland introduced equality legislation covering the nine grounds of gender, marital status, family status, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, religion and membership of the Traveller community.

The Towards 2016 Review and Transitional Agreement 2008-2009 sets out a vision for the future of an Ireland based on ‘a strong commitment to social justice and equality’ and the National Women’s Strategy 2007 – 2016 commits itself to promoting gender equality, recognising that legislation alone cannot achieve this without systematic positive action. In its Strategic Plan for 2009 – 2011, the Equality Authority stresses the importance of maintaining a focus on issues of equality and discrimination at a time of economic crisis.

Now that Ireland faces into a major international recession, those groups that are already vulnerable are the same people who will be worst hit by declining employment, budget cuts affecting public services and welfare, and inevitable reductions in funding for social equality initiatives. Lesbian women with children are vulnerable to discrimination on multiple grounds by virtue of their gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, and may also experience discrimination because of disability, age, race, religion and membership of the Travelling community.

The issues facing lesbian families saw few changes during the period of economic growth, with little progress made on addressing gaps in legislation covering access to fertility services; registration of births, adoption and guardianship of children born within lesbian relationships; marriage, separation and custody; and inheritance. While some movement was noted on the first of these, with a number of clinics in Ireland opening their doors to lesbian clients, opportunities to introduce non-discriminatory legislation on any of the issues including this one have been ignored, delayed or side-stepped by successive governments.

Still, lesbian couples (and single women) go right ahead and have children, exercising what I have come to call a resistant autonomy – making informed moral and practical choices to achieve self-actualisation in a society that continues to deny them recognition or rights.

My paper looks at how the women I talked with in my research on lesbian families live out their choices, by their actions rather than by direct political activism redefining family norms, challenging legislation and policy, and providing new models of gender, kinship and family structure that can inform and transform the future of mainstream society.


Angela O'Connell is currently writing up a PhD in Women's Studies at

N.U.I. Galway. She obtained her M.A. in Women's Studies in 2000 and her B.A. in 1985 from U.C.C. Angela previously worked in the University sector for ten years in Adult Education, Women's Studies and Equality, and now does freelance consultancy work in the community sector.  She lives in County Cork with her partner and 4 sons.


 Orla O’Connor (National Women’s Council of Ireland [NWCI])

 Opportunity for welfare reform or further reinforcement of structural inequality for women.


The current economic and employment crisis is showing the urgent need to create a modern welfare system which is flexible to the reality of women’s and men’s lives. While there is an opportunity to ensure that a feminist agenda is placed at the centre of reforming the welfare system, there is also a danger that women may be pushed back into traditional caring roles and further dependency. 


This paper will argue that the economic recession has brought into the spotlight the need for welfare reform which has been long argued for by the women’s movement in Ireland. The current social welfare system, characterised by a male breadwinner model has consistently discriminated against women. This model does not meet the reality of women’s lives, reinforces the unequal distribution of care work between women and men and continues to enforce women’s economic dependency.  Gender segregation is deeply rooted in Irish social policy and the consequences of this segregation are illustrated in women’s experience of poverty and economic dependency.


Central to a feminist analysis must be the creation of an ethic of care into the welfare system. For example the response to the current crisis in pensions presents a clear opportunity to make changes to social policy which could eradicate the cumulative discrimination against women in their older years and to redistribute some of the wealth in Ireland.


Orla O’Connor is Head of Policy with the National Women’s Council of Ireland. In that role, she is involved in a broad range of representational work, policy development and analysis. She has led negotiations for the NWCI in two national social partnership agreements, Programme for Prosperity and Fairness and Sustaining Progress and is involved with the Fingal Centre for the Unemployed.



Ann Rossiter

 Ann will speak on her book: Ireland’s Hidden Diaspora: the ‘abortion trail’ and the making of the London-Irish underground, 1980-2000


Ann Rossiter

Dr Ann Rossiter is a long-standing feminist who has been involved in the Irish Women's Abortion Support Group (IWASG) and Irish Abortion Support Group (Iasc - as in the Irish for 'fish' ) for many years. She is from Bruree, Co. Limerick and has lived in London for nearly half a century. She has also been an activist in feminist groups concerned with women and the Irish National Question, such as Women and Ireland and the London Armagh Group. The latter was set up to oppose the treatment of republican women prisoners, in particular the practice of strip searching. She has written a number of articles and essays on these subjects and holds a doctorate in the history of the encounter between Irish and English feminists during the years of 'the Troubles'. She taught Irish Studies for over a decade at various institutions, including Kilburn Polytechnic (now the College of North West London), Birbeck, London Metropolitan and LutonUniversities.



 Nusha Yonkova MA, MSc (Immigrant Council of Ireland)

 Globalisation, Sex Trafficking and Prostitution – The Experiences of Migrant Women in Ireland.


Nusha will speak about the report, published by the Immigrant Council of Ireland in April 2009,whichpresents stark evidence of the trafficking of women into and through Ireland for the purposes of sexual exploitation.  It shines a light on the reality that large numbers of migrant women are being sexually exploited in indoor prostitution in Ireland.  Drawing the experiences of these women, the report illustrates the severe emotional, physical and psychological harm that women who are trafficked and sexually exploited in Ireland endure.  This report was written by Carmel and Patricia Kelleher, of Kelleher Associates, Monica O'Connor and Dr Jane Pillinger.


Nusha Yonkova

Nusha Yonkova joined the Immigrant Council of Ireland in 2004, firstly in the Communications Department, then as an Information Officer consulting and supporting migrants. Nusha was appointed Anti-Trafficking Project Coordinator in 2007.  In addition to her present work, Nusha participates in the European Women Lobby’s project Migrant Women of Europe “Equal Rights, Equal Voices”.  In June 2008 Nusha was elected to the Executive Board of the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI).  She has recently become a member of the National Observatory for Violence Against Women in Ireland. Nusha holds a Masters of Science Degree in Engineering from the Technical University of Varna, Bulgaria and a Masters of Arts Degree in Intercultural Studies from DCU

Exploring Mothers: Discourses, Representations and Practices of Mothering

A Conference Convened by

The Board of Women’s Studies UCC


The Association for Research on Mothering in Ireland (ARMI) in conjunction with

May 24, 2008

University College Cork

Exploring Mothers: Discourses, Representations and Practices of Mothering

May 24, 2008

University College Cork



9.30pm – 10.00 pm - Registration


Welcome 10.00 10.05


10.05-10.45          Tina Miller –Keynote: Exploring Mothers: Overlap and Diversity in Caring, Loving and Ambivalent Mothering Relationships



10.45-11.00 Coffee



11.00 – 1.00 pm Parallel Sessions:


1.         Supporting Mothering -  O’Rahilly Building Room 156


Ellen Brady, UCD

Exploring Mothers: Representations and Practices of Mothering


Andrew Duggan, University of Huddersfield

Challenging Mother Blame: Narrative Conversations With Mothers


Adele Jones, University of Huddersfield

Letter to a Social Worker: Reflections on Adoption and Mothering – A Black Woman’s Perspective


Fionnuala O’Fiannachta

Supporting Mothering: A Personal Perspective


 2.         Constructing Mothers  -  O’Rahilly Building Room 132


Máire Leane, UCC

Understanding Mothers, Mothering and Motherhood in Contemporary    

Ireland:  the Potential of a Feminist Approach.


Noelia Igareda, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

Motherhood as a Subject of Law  


Angela O’Connell, UCG

Investigating Ideals of Motherhood from a Lesbian Feminist Standpoint


The VOICE Group: Susi Geiger (UCD), Lisa O’Malley (UL), Andrea Prothero (UCD)

The Mother of Consumerism: Why We Feel Our Newborn Will Only Be Happy in a €1000 Buggyl



1pm – 2 pm  Lunch



2.00pm-4.00pm - Afternoon Session



3.         Mothering and Employment  - O’Rahilly Building Room 156


 Maria Quinlan, TCD

The Impact of Motherhood on Workforce Participation: Has So Called  ‘Choice Feminism’ Failed Mothers In The Workplace?


Patricia Lyne, UCC

Women What Are You Waiting For? An Exploratory Study of Why Women Had Their First Child After The Age of Thirty in Ireland Between 1996 and 2006


Clare O’Hagan, UL

Irish Feminism, ‘Working Mothers’ and Reflexive Moral Reasoning


Meabh Smith

To Work or Not to Work: Sin an Cheist!



4.00 pm – 4.15 pm COFFEE

  1. 4.                    Plenary  Session - O’Rahilly Building Room 156



Supported by Women’s Studies, and the College of Arts,

 Celtic Studies &  Social Sciences, UCC







Board of Women’s Studies University College Cork



Mothering in Contemporary Ireland: Issues, Images and Actions.


Saturday June 9th, 2007


Venue: O’Rahilly Building, UCC, Room 123




9.30 - 10.10                 Registration and coffee


10.10-10.15                 Welcome


10.15 -10. 30               Poetry: Liz Willows


10.30 – 11.30             Keynote Address and discussion:

Dr Andrea O’Reilly: Associate Professor in the School of Women’s Studies at YorkUniversity, Toronto, Ontario.


11.30 – 11.45                                      Coffee


11.45. – 1.15               Session I


Patricia Kennedy (Senior Lecturer in Social Policy UCD)

Woman-centered Childbirth in the North East of Ireland


Clare Boyle RGN, RM, BSc(Nursing)

Breastfeeding in Ireland – Teaching the Converted.


Clare O’Hagan (UL, IRCHSS Scholar)

The Elephant in the Corner: the influence of normative constructions of motherhood on working mothers in Ireland



1.15 -2.10                                            Lunch



2.10-2.40                                          Session II


Hazel O’Brien (WERRC, UCD) Living in the Shadow of a Marriage: the effects of divorce on lesbian parents and their children.



2.40-3.10                     Session III     


Anna Kingston (UCC)

Becoming Resilient Agents: Exploring the lives of Mothers of Children with Special Needs.



3.10-4.10                     Session IV                 


Niamh Hehir  (UL)

Remote Madonnas, Caves and Wrenching Meditations: Representations of Maternity, and Jouissance as Inspiration in Medbh McGuckian’s The Book of the Angel.


Barbara Dunne (Galway/Mayo Institute of Technology)  

Mother Mary; Representations of the Black Madonna in Ireland.


4.10-4.20                                             Coffee


4.20 - 5.00                                           Plenary session and close of conference.



Board of Women’s Studies UCC


Buying Sex is not a Sport.


A Seminar on Trafficking in Women and Children:

Challenges for Ireland


Saturday 17th June – 10.30 a.m. to 1.25 p.m.


O’Rahilly Building UCC, Room 123


10.30a.m. Introduction – Dr Sandra McAvoy (Women’s Studies UCC).




10.35 a.m. - 10.55 a.m. Dr Eilis Ward (Department of Political Science and Sociology, National University of Ireland, Galway);


10.55 a.m. - 11.15 a.m. John O’Reilly (Speaking in a personal capacity, John is a Garda Inspector who worked with a UN anti-trafficking team in Bosnia);


11.15 a.m. - 11.35 a.m. Dr Joanna McMinn (Director, National Women’s Council of Ireland).


11.35 a.m. - 11.45 a.m. Questions and Discussion.


11.45 a.m. - 11.55 a.m. Break




11.55 a.m. - 12.15 p.m. Kathleen Fahy (Director, Ruhama);


12.15 p.m. - 12.35 p.m. Mary Crilly (Sexual Violence Centre, Cork);


12.35 p.m. - 12.55 p.m. Simon Coveney (T.D and M.E.P. member of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs and Human Rights spokesperson for the EPP-ED Group).


12.55 p.m. – 1.30 p.m. Discussion



 27TH MAY 2006


 Organised by:


Irish Postgraduate Gender and Women’s Studies Network


Board of Women’s Studies UCC

 27th May 2006 – University College Cork



9.30-10am: Registration – Room 156, The O’Rahilly Building


10-10.20: Welcome by Dr Sandra McAvoy and Opening address by Dr Rebecca Pelan


10.20-11.50: Session 1: Panels 1-3


1.      Negotiating Identities:


Meaghan Connaire (Communications, SUNY) – Confessions of an Irish-American Feminist.


Christine O’Dowd-Smyth (School of Humanities, WIT) - Literary Representations Of Dis-Embodiment & Dis-Placement In Postcolonial Algerian & Irish Women’s Writing: A Comparative Study..


Rhona Trench (Drama Studies, QUB)- Staging Morality In On Raftery’s Hill.


Niamh Hehir (Women’s Studies, UL) - Threshold Identities: The Abject and Embodied Subjectivity in The Flower Master and Other Poems.


2.      Genres, Stereotypes and Genders

 Annalisa Sommariva (Comparative Literature, Trento University) - Sex And The Irish Woman At The Turn Of The Century According To Two Irish Comedies


Jo McNamara (NUI Galway) - All-Conquering Heroines? An Analysis Of Female Portrayals Within Fantasy Genre Films


Katharina Greiner (Hispanic Studies, UCC) - The Irish Traveller Girl As Female Protagonist In Film And Literature: Marita Conlon-McKenna’s The Blue Horse (O’Brien Press, 1992) And Perry Ogden’s Pavee Lackeen: The Traveller Girl (An Lár Films, 2005)


Zelie Asava (Film Studies, UCD) - Multiple Ethnicities, Sexualities In The Crying Game (Jordan, Ireland, 1992)


3.      Performing Gender and Sexuality

Sonja Tiernan (WERRC, UCD) - “Refuse To Wear The Shackles Of Sex;” Cross-Dressing, Transexualism And Intersex In The Journal Urania 1916-1940.


Hazel O’Brien (WERRC, UCD) – Lesbian Parenting: The Renegotiation of Feminist Motherhood.


Linda Greene (WERRC, UCD) - Gender And Sexualities, Concrete Borders Permeable Membrane.


 11.50-12.00: Coffee


12-1: Workshop - Room 156



12-12.30: Jennifer Dewan to say a few words on her own experience of PhD writing, opening then to the floor for discussion.

12.30-1: Susan Cahill and Claire Bracken to introduce the IPGWN network and showcase the network’s template website, followed by a brainstorm regarding possible future activities of network and decision on name.


1-2: Lunch – University College Cork Staff Restaurant



2-3: Roundtable Plenary Discussion on Irish Feminist Futures – Room 156


Chair:   Dr. Sandra McAvoy (Women’s Studies, UCC)



Prof. Pat   Coughlan (English, UCC)

Dr. Katherine   O’Donnell (WERRC, UCD)

Dr. Rebecca Pelan   (Women’s Studies, NUIG)

Dr Maryann Valiulis (Women's   Studies TCD)



3-3.15: Coffee



3.15-4.45: Session 2: Panels 4-6


1.      Submerged Histories


 Alice McDermott and Mark Power (History and Cultural Studies & Communications, WIT) - Putting Them in their Place: Writing Irish Nurses into Factual Great War Literature.


Ana Nunes (School of English and Drama, UCD) - “From The Fantastic To Magic Realism: The Spectral Presence In Phyllis Perry’s Stigmata”.


Julie Richko (School of Archaeology, UCD) - Homes, Homelands And Identities: Archaeologies Of Nineteenth-Century Irish Peasantry And Its Diaspora.


Parvin Ghasemi (School of Lit. and Humanities, Shiraz University, Iran & Newcastle University) - Memory At Work:  Regeneration And Empowerment In Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse.


2.      The Body


Deirdre Quinn (Centre for Media Studies, NUI Maynooth) - Marching Back To Maternity: Foucault, Butler And The Space Of The HIV/AIDS Body In Irish Broadcasting.


Jenny Murphy (School of English and Drama, UCD) - The Body In Almodóvar’s Work: A Site Of Rhizomatic Symbolic Violence.


Michael Hutchen (School of Philosophy, UCD) - The Body In Its Sexual Being.


Jeannette Boyne - By The Pricking Of My Thumbs: The (Un)Imagined Body.


3.      Theory and Politics


Emma Bidwell (Dept. of English, UCC) - You Are So Embarrassing! : Feminists And Queers And The Spaces In Between.


Jennifer Dewan (Anthropology, Columbia University) - Merely Theory? Some Thoughts On Feminism, Activism And Academic Practice.


Michael O’Rourke (School of English and Drama, UCD) - Butler’s Untimely Politics.




Abstracts and Speaker Biographies


Asava, Zelie (Film Studies, UCD)

Multiple Ethnicities, Sexualities In The Crying Game


This paper will question ideas of race, gender and sexuality through the figure of Dil in The Crying Game. Dil engages in various maquerades, performing performance, femininity and Englishness.  This film concurs with theoretical arguments of social constructionism.  Jordan highlights the superficiality of gender position and identity, race and nationality, boundaries and divisions – exemplifying in Dil the slippage between signifier (external, visible construction) and signified (psyche).  Jordan is interested in what lies between boundaries, interstices: the in-between in society thus he undermines the fixity of ideology, sexuality, nation, the absoluteness of identity.

I will refer to texts by Laura Mulvey and bell hooks to show how Dil’s transgressive identity transforms traditional representations and how the presence/absence of different racial groups on screen informs our understanding of these groups in society; thus exemplifying a sociological link between cinematic and social mixed-race representation. 


I am a second year PhD student at UCD in Film Studies.  My area of research is the representation of mixed-race people in French and American cinema.  I also teach a course on gender and race in cinema and next year will lecture on world cinema.


Bidwell, Emma (Dept. of English, UCC)

“You Are So Embarrassing! : Feminists And Queers And The Spaces In Between”


In the last ten years queer theory and queer politics have slowly been making their presence felt in Gender and Women’s Studies.  Queerness is subtly changing the epistemology of feminism.  Even a brief mention of Judith Butler in a Women’s Studies Course, or an awareness of transgenderism, alters the traditional understanding of gender and, therefore, of the ontological grounds of feminism.  This understanding, however, travels both ways.  Queer theory, arguably, owes much of its theoretical background and ‘voice’ to feminism, specifically to feminism’s search for new ways of being.  Why then do these two so often view each other with embarrassment and defensiveness?  Is there a possibility of dialogue between the two or are the moments of intersectionality only going to produce bewilderment?   If feminism is based upon a definition of woman and queer theory argues for a fluidity of gender can there be any viable dialogue between the two?


In this paper I will address these questions and argue that, due to its size and demographic make-up, Ireland has a unique opportunity to respond to the difficulties that currently disrupt dialogue between these two schools of thought.  If the emerging voices of young women are to be heard, I believe that the gap between feminism and queerdom must be bridged.  Feminism will then remain vital and transformative.



Emma Bidwell is in her final year as a PhD. candidate at University College Cork, her thesis is entitled ‘Female Masculinity in the Works of Carson McCullers’.  She is a Government of Ireland Scholar funded by the IRCHSS.  She has presented papers at the Lesbian Lives Conference in 2003, 2004 and 2006, the Queer The(e)ories Symposium at UCD, and at the American Literature Association Conference in Mexico. Her particular areas of research are female masculinity and gender performance.  Emma teaches Modern Literature with Oscail and a seminar on Writing on the American South in UCC.


Boyne, Jeanette “By The Pricking Of My Thumbs: The (Un)Imagined Body”

It must be possible ‘to concede and affirm an array of materialities that pertain to the body, that which is signified by the domains of biology, anatomy, physiology, hormonal and chemical composition, illness, age, weight, metabolism, life and death’ (Butler, Bodies That Matter, 65), and to acknowledge that each of those categories has a history and a historicity, i.e. that they are determined by and within discursive relations of power that are available for contestation.  My goal in this paper is to speak about the embodied subject within an historical/theoretical approach that neither denies the materiality of our bodies nor imprisons us within the body.

When neuroscientist Eric Kandel (In Search of Memory), finds learning at the cellular level, the unitary body atomises, dis-integrates, only to reintegrate, to reappear for the first time so to speak, as culturally-inflected body image—an image so powerful that following an amputation, despite the physical, intellectual, and visual evidence that a limb is no longer there, it nevertheless continues to itch, or to cramp.  The phantom body image has multiple sources, from proprioceptive input from the lived-in, sensible body, to a ‘memory’ of the Lacanian real (the space between consciousness and symbolic self-consciousness), to the cultural environment.          

Lacan describes somatic symptoms as ‘the silence in the supposed speaking subject’; Damasio argues that ‘the comprehensive understanding of the human mind requires an organismic perspective’; Elizabeth Grosz says that ‘bodies and minds are not two distinct substances or two kinds of attributes of a single substance, but somewhere in between these two alternatives’.  I am hypothesising that the mind is to the brain as body image is to the body—a virtual reconstruction, a series of images, perceptual and recalled, represented topographically, integrated in time and in constant interactive—symbolic—flux.  As the body is to the mind (its source) so the mind is to the body image, creating a bidirectional triangular relationship—body, mind, body image (all contested terms)—in constant dynamic tension, within which the sujet en procès is always already in a state of becoming.


 Jeannette Boyne is a migrant from the English department to psychology.  Having worked on representations of women, hysteria, and madness in nineteenth-century literature for a PhD in English at Sussex University, Jeannette followed that thread into the twentieth century and is currently working toward a post graduate diploma in psychology.  She is particularly interested in the relationship between mind and body—that is, in how the embodied subject is, so to speak, minded.


 Connaire, Meaghan (Communications, SUNY)

“Confessions of an Irish-American Feminist”

 This paper investigates Irish-American feminism.  What does it mean to be an Irish-American feminist in today's world? It can be summed up in one word: contradiction. Practicing a radical feminist lifestyle while retaining Irish-American roots proves to be difficult. The desire to change the capitalist system which oppresses many runs parallel to a pride in how Irish immigrants in the United States, in making better lives for themselves through hard work and subsequent worker exploitation of the capitalist system.  My project is situated within my own politics of location—comprised of my family history, Irish history and feminist philosophies; an understanding of who I am and where I will go begins to materialize.  Having been raised Irish-Catholic, I challenge the notion that organized religion is not conducive to feminism. Living in a world that is rapidly globalizing, it is crucial to question how important it is to label oneself Irish-American. The desire to practice a life rooted in non-violent philosophy is met with the violent history of not only my family but of Ireland itself. Violence is romanticized in Irish history and is passed down from generation to generation. How can non-violent philosophies accommodate violent pasts? Is it even possible? In addition issues of globalization, this paper locates Irish Feminism within Irish and American History, which until recently has amounted to studying the everyday life experiences of men in these cultures.  To be an Irish-American woman is to be born into a man's world. It is pertinent to the future of feminism that both Irish and American women realize there are hundreds of women to write back into our histories.  As such, the paper calls for the inclusion of women in Irish and American history and utilizes artifacts from the work of Matilda Joslyn Gage and Hanna Sheehy Skeffington to advance a politics of intercultural feminism.


Meaghan Connaire, undergraduate SUNY Cortland, Cortland, NY. I will be receiving my bachelor’s degree in Communications with a concentration in journalism and minors in Women’s Studies and Professional Writing. I am a third-generation Irish-American and plan to earn a Master’s in Irish Studies or Irish History.


Dewan, Jennifer (Anthropology, Columbia University)

“Merely Theory? Some Thoughts On Feminism, Activism And Academic Practice”

 In my experience learning and teaching women’s studies, I have found that there is a split between people who ‘do theory’ and people who don’t.  Since I myself am firmly entrenched somewhere in the middle of that split, I realize that such sweeping generalizations do not describe what real people do.  However, I do think it describes a real debate that lies at the heart of the practice (and theory) of women’s studies, namely the relationship between practice and theory.  Women’s studies occupies a unique position in the academy: it is an academic discipline (or multidiscipline) as well as a basis and forum to promote social change.  Women’s studies is concerned with making women visible and exploring the reasons why they are not, as well as seeking out ways in which to effect social change. It is simultaneously academic and political, theory and practice.  And yet there is a reticence to ‘theory’, particularly those varieties of critical theory (for instance, poststructuralist and postmodern theories) deemed ‘too difficult’, ‘too trivial’ or even ‘apolitical’.  According to sociologist Steven Buechler social theory was developed as a way to “discipline and normalize an unruly world”, particularly in the context of colonial expansion (Buechler 2000:3).  Indeed, the development of social theory – and its corresponding practices - can be linked to the proliferation of capitalism and liberalism around the globe.  But it has also been the means by which thinkers have attempted to change the world, providing the basis for radical and revolutionary social change (e.g. Marxist theory, feminist theory, queer theory).  In this sense, theory and practice necessarily co-exist.  This paper will explore some thoughts regarding the uneasy relationship between theory and practice in the discipline of women’s studies, and its effect on the future of feminism, activism and academic practice in the modern world. 


I am a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at Columbia University.  I am currently writing my doctoral thesis on social change, political activism and feminism in Ireland.  The thesis is principally concerned with examining the relationship between citizens/activists and the state in the context of late capitalist modernity (i.e. European integration, economic change, globalization). I spent two years in Cork conducting ethnographic research among women's groups and political activists as well as historical and archival research.


Ghasemi, Parvin (School of Lit. and Humanities, Shiraz University, Iran & Newcastle University)

“Memory At Work:  Regeneration And Empowerment In Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse

 To The Lighthouse investigates the characters’ journey to the past in search of their true identity and rewards them with a sense of assertion of self and an understanding of others.  Thus, Annette Kuhn’s theory in Family Secrets (1995) implying that memory work has the power to uncover personal experiences and incidents in the characters’ mind, “things buried deep in their past” (3), can be productively applied to To The Lighthouse to reveal the characters’ quest for identity and their eventual achievement of self-recognition. The journey to the lighthouse is undertaken on several levels.  In addition to its physical/literal level of actualization, it is a mental and psychological journey.  While Mr. Ramsay, James and Cam take part in both physical and mental journeys, Lily Briscoe, the Ramsays’ surrogate daughter, feels no need to undertake the physical journey as her mental trip to the past is sufficient for her to accomplish her ends towards self-discovery.  Lily, who dominates the point of view in part III of the novel, is, particularly, very active in the mental quest in search of her gender identity and her own definition of individual self and womanhood.  Lily’s final revelation, the epiphany, comes at the moment of the eventual arrival at the lighthouse which coincides with the completion of her creative work (the painting begun 10 years ago) and memory work as she achieves an insight into her own self.  This self-realization, which is achieved by other characters as well, indicates that “the unfolding in memory texts of connections between memory and the past / memory and time, memory and place, memory and experience, and memory and images, memory and the Unconscious” (kuhn 5) can be utilized to empower the individual via self-knowledge.


Parvin Ghasemi is Assistant Professor of Eng. Lit at School of Lit. and Humanities at Shiraz Univ., Iran (currently an academic visitor at Newcastle Univ., UK).  Her academic interests include American Fiction, African American Literature, and Women and Gender Studies.  Her articles have appreared in Alif, American Univ of Ciaro, Language Forum, India, Kerman Univ. Journal, and Tabriz Univ. Journal, Iran.  She is the author of Novel Textbook and Five Stories (translation). She earned her B.A in Iran (78), M.A. from SUNY-Brockport (80) and Ph. D. from The Pennsylvania State Univ. (dissertation on Toni Morrison's novels 1994). At present, she is spending a sabbatical year at Newcastle University (UK) working on Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, and a modern Iranian woman poet, Forough Farrokhzad.


Greene, Linda (WERRC, UCD)

“Gender And Sexualities, Concrete Borders Permeable Membrane”

 In this paper I attempt to critically reflect on gender role expectations, sexuality and body politics via an exploration of problematic definitions of sex and sexual identity.  Historically the female body has been loaded with partriachicaly informed heteronormative theory placing it categorically and uniformly into a particular sex role at both the social and diagnostic level. The lesbian body particularly has become a highly politicised landscape with borders and territories as women are labelled lesbian or ‘not lesbian enough’ depending on body type, dress and appearance. This paper attempts to briefly analyse the complex relationship between the body, sex and sexual identity as so called ‘subversives’ attempt to radically transgress such limitations and live their lives on their terms.  By exploring the limitations of borders surrounding sex and sexuality I endeavour to promote different ways of understanding, loving and being. This paper seeks to analyse such borders and explore the potentially ‘dire’ consequences of not fitting neatly into the two-sex model of sex or the nexus of heteronormativity. Such borders effectively seek to contain and control and quite deliberately function as tools of social surveillance and disempowerment. The paper might be of particular interest to researchers concerned with gender and identity politics.


Current research topic focus; Lesbianism and Sports. Linda graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1999 and went on to complete her MA in Women's Studies at UCD.  An ex-International and professional level athlete she currently teaches Photography and is in her 3rd year of her PhD research at WERRC, UCD.


 Grenier, Katharina (IRCHSS Postgraduate Scholar, Hispanic Studies, UCC)

The Irish Traveller Girl As Female Protagonist In Film And Literature: Marita Conlon-McKenna’s The Blue Horse (O’Brien Press, 1992) And Perry Ogden’s Pavee Lackeen: The Traveller Girl (An Lár Films, 2005)”

 This paper examines the role of the female protagonist in Marita Conlon-McKenna’s The Blue Horse and Perry Ogden’s film Pavee Lackeen, with a view to establishing the importance of the figure of the Irish traveller girl in 21st century Irish film and fiction. I propose to show that the concept of Ireland’s ideal female protagonist, and particularly women’s perception of the ideal female protagonist, has been influenced by external rather than internal factors and may need some re-evaluation. My paper will explore this theory by analysing the two characters in question (Winnie in Pavee Lackeen and Katie in The Blue Horse) through a comparison between the modern stereotypical representations of the female protagonist in film and literature, and the character of the female protagonist in the Bildungsroman (novel of development) and the fairytale of female awakening.


Katharina Greiner is a Government of Ireland Scholar and a final-year PhD student in the Department of Hispanic Studies in UCC. She is currently completing her PhD thesis on Fairytale and the Cinderella Metaphor in Spanish Post-war Women’s Writing, and has presented a number of papers on related subjects in the past, including “Motherhood and the Mother-Substitute: The Fairy-godmother figures in Nada, La vieja ley and Mientras vivimos” at last year’s 1st Irish Postgraduate Women’s Studies Conference held in UCC. Originally from Germany, she completed her BA degree in Dublin City University, subsequently lived in Spain for two years and hopes to continue her study of Spanish women’s writing by expanding her research to include inter-cultural comparisons.


Hehir, Niamh (Women’s Studies, UL)

Threshold Identities: The Abject and Embodied Subjectivity in The Flower Master and Other Poems

 Medbh McGuckian wrote The Flower Master and Other Poems after her experience of pregnancy, childbirth and post-natal depression. It is a collection written from the perspective of a fractured identity, where a scattered self seeks reconnection and unification throughout. The unsettling effect of the maternal experience in this collection brings to focus the fluid, unstable and destabilising influence of the body, particularly the maternal body, in our negotiation of identity. It also indicates the extent to which our identity is derived and constituted by our corporal experiences.

 In this reading of the body in The Flower Master and Other Poems we begin to understand the body to be, as Braidotti suggests, “not an essence, but a play of forces”. The charge of essentialism has often prevented a full engagement with issues of the body in feminist discourse, with notions of biologism associated with any return to the body as a source of identity. In this paper, I will focus on the destabilising effects of the maternal body and attempt to, as Margrit Shildrick suggests, “interrupt the binary that positions the biological as static and culture as representative of development and change.”

 How then do we approach this analysis of identity and corporeality and what kind of subject is constituted by this fluid body? Julia Kristeva’s theory of the subject-in-process and her understanding of the abject offers an analysis of subjectivity that acknowledges the destabilising influence of a body that is “plural, fluid and unbounded.” The experience of the abject has particular consequences for the female body and consequently for our negotiation of female subjectivity. This paper suggests that this fluid body is integral to our understanding of the subject-in-process where we inhabit threshold identities, always acutely aware of the precarious nature of these subject positions. In these threshold spaces where, as Kristeva suggests ‘There I am at the border of my condition as a living being’ we understand how significant the body is to our understanding of identity, both as a destabilising and constitutive force in our negotiation of identity.


I am a Phd student with the Women’s Studies Department and the Department of Language and Cultural Studies at The University of Limerick. The subject of my thesis is a Kristevan reading of gendered spaces in Medbh McGuckian’s poetry. I am currently lecturing on the Certificate and Diploma courses in Women’s Studies.


Hutchen, Michael (School of Philosophy, UCD)

The Body In Its Sexual Being”

 The essay to follow is a philosophical elucidation of Merleau-Ponty’s conceptualization of the body and its sexuality.  In and through the phenomenology, Merleau-Ponty attempts to uncover a conception of the body, world, me, and you as part and parcel of the sexual interplay.  That is, drawing from Edmund Husserl, Merleau-Ponty depicts a world of intentionally affecting beings that are bound in and with the affections of other beings.  This intentional affectivity he calls sexuality.  The body, then, is the focal point of the affecting world, our world, and whatever resultant ‘thoughts’ found therein.  In the end, sexuality is not some by-product of human indulgence, but rather it characterizes the very way in which the world, and life itself, occurs.  


Currently, I am working towards receiving my Masters in Philosophy at UCD.  My thesis is going to be on the differences between the transcendental philosophies of Martin Heidegger and Edmund Husserl. Earlier this year, I spoke at a post-graduate philosophical conference in Galway, and I am a member of the Irish Philosophical Society. 


McDermott, Alice & Mark Power (History and Cultural Studies & Communications, WIT)

“Putting Them in their Place: Writing Irish Nurses into Factual Great War Literature”

 Predictably, given the extent of the horror and mayhem so widely associated with its conduct, front line experiences of the First World War have resulted, in the past ninety years or so, in the production of a large body of literature attempting to document and interpret individual, community, national, and international responses to same.

 Since the 1990s, in particular, that already sizeable resource has been further enlarged because of a significant resurgence of interest in, and production of, Great War literature.  This renewed awareness was influenced, no doubt, by the ending of the Cold War at which time so many of the issues first raised prior to 1914 re-emerged in Europe, engendering a recognition more objective, perhaps, than had been the case previously, that the conflict, quite apart from its political/military result, was also largely responsible for ushering in the so-called ‘modern world’ in place of the world of Victorian Imperialism.

 Perhaps the most dominant feature of this entire body of factual Great War literature is its almost exclusive focus on the male experience of the conflict., entirely understandable in many ways, considering that most of those on the front lines were men, so much of their subsequently published recollections focused on the military experience of war, and so many of them went off to war with a kind of ‘Boys Own’ sensibility regarding its conduct.  It has meant, however, that the voices of many women who served as military nurses and ambulance drivers throughout the campaign have been allowed to remain silent ever since and their activities, frequently regarded as less significant and exciting than those of their male colleagues, undocumented.

In Ireland, this situation has been further complicated by a fairly unique national ‘erasing’ of Great War recollection and also because the underlying class conflict which formed part of the nationalist struggle meant that many of the women who served in the war were from a ‘level’ who choose to remain in Britain after independence . The  result has been a total absence of published First World War memoirs by any of the tens of thousands of Irish women who saw front line service throughout same.

 The purpose of the paper  proposed for the conference is, therefore, to present, and explore the potential of, a means by which it may be possible to retrieve, despite the passage of the intervening years and, in most cases, solely from the secondary oral testimonies of descendents of their families, friends, and local community members, the stories of some of these women who were significant not only as members of a large group of hitherto ‘untapped’ front line witnesses to many of the pivotal campaigns of the First World War but also as the main providers of primary emergency medical care in the immediate and various aftermaths of all of its battles.


Alice Mc Dermott lectures in History and Cultural Studies at Waterford Institute of Technology. She holds a B.A. in English and History (NUIG), a H. Dip. In Ed. (NUIG), an M.A. in History (NUIG) and an M.A. in History and Local Studies (UL). Mark Power is a journalist on Waterford Local Radio. He lectures part-time in Communications at Waterford Institute of Technology. He holds a B.A. in English and History (NUIG) and an M.A. in Film and Television Studies (University of Amsterdam).


McNamara, Jo (NUI Galway)

“All-Conquering Heroines? An Analysis Of Female Portrayals Within Fantasy Genre Films”

 Fantasy, or rather its modern permutation in a standardised format as a stereotypical portrayal of heroic endeavours within a subverted reality, has recently experienced popularity few other genres enjoy. By creating a significant impact on cinema box offices, fantasy genre films have emerged as a new platform for female characters within fantasy texts to reach massive audiences. As a standardised experience where the forces of good struggle with permutations of malevolent powers, the role of women within fantasy films varies, dependent on source material and the impact of the creative collaboration on the work. Several interesting developments in how women are portrayed within the typical quest narrative have been documented on the silver screen.

 By means of analysing some prominent fantasy genre cinematic releases, this paper will explore what progress has been made in addressing inequalities in portrayals of women as well as trying to discover if feminism can exercise influence within the boundaries of mainly patriachal narratives. Using texts such as The Princess Bride, Willow, Labyrinth, and The Lord of The Rings trilogy among others, this paper will examine existing examples of female characters’ space to develop within male-dominated environments and question the female voice within the fantasy film genre.


Currently pursuing PhD studies on the topic of female fantasy authorship viewed through a feminist literary criticism lens, explorations of women operating within the parameters of the fantasy genre seem especially interesting to me. I completed a BA in English with Computer Science in UCC in 2003 and an MA in Writing in NUI, Galway in 2004.


Murphy, Jenny (School of English and Drama, UCD)

“The Body In Almodóvar’s Work: A Site Of Rhizomatic Symbolic Violence”

 The body in the cinema of Pedro Almodóvar is a representation of what Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari would call rhizomatic possibility (in which no hegemonic classifications or hierarchical systems of organisation are at play). Almodóvar’s bodies are limitless; while often appearing to have a multiplicity of sexual identities, they are in Deleuzian/ Guattarian terms, bodies without organs. Their rhizomatic structures allow a freedom of being and becoming in every sense, so that they are not restricted by identity, gendered or otherwise. However, in conflict with Deleuze and Guattari’s statement that there is “no ideology and never has been”, Almodóvar’s bodies reflects an ideology that cannot be denied. They embody the heterosocial, the other, the in-between as an opposition to hegemonic, homosocial structures.

 While the Almodóvarian body may be explored as a rhizomatic entity, there are also ideological conflicts present (which may be seen as hierarchical): between how the body is gendered and how gender is performed, and between gender and sexuality. In Deleuze and Guattari’s work, “woman” operates as a means by which to break down the hegemonic structure of “man”, but the necessary conflict that must accompany this in practice is not explored. In Almodóvar’s work, the rhizomatic body expresses its gender conflicts through violence – physical violence, symbolic violence and simulated violence. The second half of this paper will deal with the body as a site of splitting and struggle, in tandem with Baudrillard’s and Žižek’s ideas on symbolic and simulated violence.

 Using two of Almodóvar’s most recent films, Talk to Her (Hable con ella, 2002) and Bad Education (La mala educación, 2004), I will examine scenes of (sexual) violence and assess how these acts deterritorialise (and reterritorialise) the body, homosocial gender structures, and symbolic violence itself.


Jenny Murphy is a B.A. graduate of NUI Galway and received her Masters from University College Dublin. Now a PhD student of UCD, her topic of interest is the representation of images of sex and violence (in homo- and hetero-social frameworks) in the work of three directors: Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodovar and Neil Jordan.  She presented a paper at last September's "Gender and Violence" conference in the  University of Aberdeen and has recently turned her attentions towards Deleuze and Guattari, using their theories in conjunction with the work of the above directors to form the basis of papers delivered at conferences in UCD, Maynooth and Boston College  in 2006.


Nunes, Ana (School of English and Drama, UCD)

“From the Fantastic to Magic Realism: the Spectral Presence in Phyllis Perry’s Stigmata

 Among African American contemporary writers, female novelists have been at the forefront of recreating history, and more particularly the history of slavery. The aim of this paper is to examine how female writers have made a unique contribution to the African American historical narrative. For this purpose, I will examine Phyllis Perry’s Stigmata (1998), exploring the ways in which this author reworks traditional narrative devices in order to recreate a partially lost and fragmented history of the female slave. I will consider how Perry engages with the magical in order to rework the narrative model presented by Toni Morrison in Beloved (1987). In Stigmata, Perry interrogates both the nature of reality and its representation, introducing an innovative narrative form which reflects an imaginative world where the boundaries between the earthly and the ghostly become blurred. I will examine how magical realism provides the necessary narrative strategy through which a lost history can be recreated and how the ancestral spectre can function as a means of translating the absences of African American history into tangible presences, revising the tradition of the ghost tale in the search “for new representations […] in order to impart a stronger sense of the unpresentable”, as Jean-François Lyotard puts it. The paper will also emphasise how the female slave experience conditioned women’s relationship to history and literacy. The slave women’s ties to their children represented an added difficulty to their escape from slavery. Their links to their offspring and the homes they made for themselves were spaces where oral strategies were reinforced. I will examine the role of women as creators and bearers of oral traditions developed and passed on along a matrilineal line. I will focus my analysis on how orality enlarges the narrative space, shaping the representations of female history, identity, memory, motherhood, surrogacy, and the communities women create to sustain and support each other.


Ana Nunes completed her PhD in November 2005 at University College Dublin. Her thesis is entitled Representations of History in the Fiction of African American Women Writers. She has published several essays on African American women writers. Recent publications include articles on authors such as Paule Marshall, Gayl Jones, and Sherley Anne Williams. Nunes is a senior tutor in the School of English at University College Dublin, where she also teaches a seminar on Early American Writing.


O’Brien, Hazel (WERRC, UCD)

“Lesbian Parenting: The Renegotiation of Feminist Motherhood”

 This paper examines the processes through which lesbian mothers are renegotiating the boundaries of feminist motherhood. By examining key  feminist works such as Rich (1976), Chodorow (1978) and Oakely (2005), this paper suggests that there are commonalities shared between many feminist writers on motherhood which  both support and reject the lesbian vision of parenting. The paper argues that lesbian parents are often better placed to fulfil the feminist vision of parenthood, as they form new ways of mothering which although informed by patriarchy, is not enforced by it.

 By utilising some of the research conducted with lesbian parents, and those in long term lesbian partnerships such as Sullivan (1996),  Ryan Flood (2003), and Oerton (1997) it is possible to glimpse the realities of issues such as child care, division of household tasks, and emotional support. Other less tangible issues such as changes in identity from woman to mother and the institutionalisation of motherhood are issues that effect the lesbian mother no less than her heterosexual counterpart. It does appear that some issues connected to the mothering  process vary little between those in lesbian relationships, and those in heterosexual relationships. It must also be borne in mind that heterosexual women are also capable of reinventing the institution of motherhood.  This paper argues therefore, that the renegotiation of boundaries is spurred forward not by sexual orientation, but by alternate ways of living, and mothering.


I am currently a 2nd year PhD candidate in WERRC, where  I am conducting my thesis on the lesbian experience of parenting in Ireland. Prior to WERRC, I completed a M.A in Sociology at NUI Maynooth, on the theme of Modernity in Ireland, and completed a minor thesis as part of that course on the role of laypeople in the parish within the Dublin Diocese.  Also in NUI Maynooth, I completed a B.A (Hons) degree in Sociology and English. Although my research interests span wide areas, my specialist area is in the topic of sexualities, with reference to modern Ireland.


O’Dowd-Smyth, Christine (School of Humanities, WIT)

“Literary Representations Of Dis-Embodiment & Dis-Placement In Postcolonial Algerian & Irish Women’s Writing: A Comparative Study”

 In this paper, I wish to propose a comparative and thematic study of two very different yet complimentary emerging genres in contemporary postcolonial women’s literature: Algerian French language literature and Irish literature written in English. Through an intertextual reading of the autobiographical writings of Malika Mokeddem & Nina Bouraoui on the one hand, and Nuala O Faolain & Nell Mc Cafferty, I shall underline the very similar thematic of dis-embodiment and dis-placement common to postcolonial women’s writing in general.

 This paper shall also examine the concept of women’s autobiographical writing as intrinsically different to male writing – not only thematically but also structurally and linguistically separate and autonomous – and will also explore the socio- historical & socio-cultural reasons for this difference using the complimentary methodological tools of feminist theory, postcolonial theory (in particular the cross-colony identification theory) and literary theory.


Dr. Christine O’Dowd-Smyth is a Lecturer in French & Francophone literary & cultural studies at Waterford Institute of Technology. Her specialism is in Francophone Postcolonial Studies & Francophone North African women’s autobiographical writing. Her 2005 Ph.D thesis: Silence, exile and the problematic of postcolonial identity in North African Francophone Literatures drew on the comparative cross colonial analysis of Algerian & Moroccan postcolonial Francophone writers, both male, female & diasporic, with postcolonial Irish writers, writing in English. She has published extensively in international academic journals and has organised two International Conferences in WIT in the areas of Francophone Literatures and in Ireland/Newfoundland/Francophone world comparative studies. She organised the first WIT Writer in residence in April 2005 by inviting the Franco-Algerian writer & sociologist Azouz Begag who has since become France’s first Minister for Equality She is also a published poet, a feminist and lifelong political activist. She has recently started training for the auxiliary ministry in the Church of Ireland.


O’Rourke, Michael (School of English and Drama, UCD)

Butler’s Untimely Politics”

 Judith Butler has certainly produced a body of work that matters. It matters not only because it takes theory into the realm of difficult socio-ethico-political questions, but also because it does so without sacrificing the complexities, hesitations, and difficulties that necessarily surround such a project. For Butler, theory matters precisely as practice, as material responses to specific (and often horrific) political situations: it is an analysis of how these situations have come to be structured as they are, and how they can be changed without simply reinstituting the same normative interpellating discourses that gave rise to such situations in the first place. In accounting since Gender Troublefor identity as the product of still-conflicted exclusionary normative practices she asks us to consider the possibility of reinscribing our heterogeneous present and future. While categories of identity certainly cannot and should not be abandoned in such a project, Butler nonetheless argues for the theoretical and political necessity to “learn a double movement: to invoke the category, and, hence, provisionally to institute an identity and at the same time to open the category as a site of permanent political contest”. It is because her work has this relentlessly dual focus-calling for concrete responsive action in the present (ordinary time) while preserving the possibility, indeed necessity of a reinscribed future (messianic time)-that Butler’s work matters so singularly and so crucially.

Judith Butler is not a thinker who is normally or primarily associated with political theory or democratic theory. In fact Martha Nussbaum famously damned Butler’s “hip defeatism” in The New Republic, claiming that “For Butler, the act of subversion is so riveting, so sexy, that it is a bad dream to think that the world will actually get better. What a bore equality is! No bondage, no delight. In this way, her pessimistic erotic anthropology offers support to an amoral anarchist politics”. But, in recent years Butler has been outspoken about the war in Iraq, the detention of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, and a defender of Palestinian rights. In this paper, however, I want to think through the politics of her work, not just in the sense of the kinds of political activity that might be bequeathed by that work (a task that will almost certainly disappoint) but rather the constitutive role that politics plays for her in the formation of social arrangements, identity, and so on.  Second, I want also to highlight the fact that, in many of Butler’s writings since the mid-1990s there has been frequent reference made to both the state and to democratization, with Butler aligning her work with the post-Marxist project of radical democracy initiated by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. Finally, I am interested in the intersections (or crossings) between Butler’s post-identity politics, questions of “recognition” and democratic projects in a context in which the legitimacy (or motivation) of the state is frequently in question. In Butler’s post-identity politics one cannot assume that identity is pre-given, that it is foundational of a politics in some way or that it is an unquestioned premise of political argument. Rather, post-identity politics signals that identity is a construction that is put into question as soon as it is posited, something fluid, relational, and in-process



Michael O’Rourke is Faculty of Arts Fellow in the School of English and Drama at University College Dublin in Ireland, where he is completing a PhD thesis entitled “A Passion for the Impossible: Waiting for the Queer Theory to-come”. He is the editor (with Noreen Giffney) of Critical InQueery: A Reader, (with David Collings) a special issue of Romanticism on the Net on “Queer Romanticisms” (2005) and a special double issue of Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge on “The Becoming-Deleuzoguattarian of Queer Studies” (2006). He has edited two books with Katherine O’Donnell: Love, Sex, Intimacy and Friendship Between Men, 1550-1800 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003) and Queer Masculinities, 1550-1800: Siting Same-Sex Desire in the Early Modern World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). He co-edits (with Noreen Giffney and Myra Hird) Queeries: An International Journal of Queer Studies, and is series editor (with Noreen Giffney) of the Queer Interventions book series with Ashgate Press. His articles have appeared or will appear in Rhizomes, Medieval Feminist Forum, The History Review, Feminism and Psychology, The OSCHOLARS, Irish University Review, SCOLAG, Romanticism on the Net, South Atlantic Review, new formations, Irish Feminist Review, Sixteenth Century Journal, Sexualities and The Journal of Lesbian Studies.


Quinn, Deirdre (Centre for Media Studies, NUI Maynooth)

“Marching Back To Maternity: Foucault, Butler And The Space Of The HIV/AIDS Body In Irish Broadcasting”

 The body occupies an important space in our society, according to Foucault and Butler. Foucault proposed that the body is a space structured by society. However, he suggests that this space should be liberated from the constraints of such structures. Judith Butler develops this idea to a greater degree by suggesting that gender and sexuality are free floating entities which the body becomes an agent of through performance. Thus, the space of the body in the media becomes a space of performance.

 The focus of this paper will be to examine the chasm of difference between Foucault and Butler and to examine the HIV/AIDS body as a space of performance. This difference shall be explored through the mapping of the space of the HIV/AIDS body in Irish broadcasting. The representation of the HIV/AIDS body in the drama ‘No More Tears’, a drama based on the  tribunal, commonly known as the Blood tribunal  and in the controversial documentary ‘Bad Blood’ shall be used in this exploration.  However, the main focus of analysis will be the representation of the HIV/AIDS body in the current affairs programme ‘Prime Time’ since the beginning of this new century. The speaker shall consider the apparent retreat representation of HIV/AIDS into the maternal body in Irish broadcasting.


Deirdre Quinn is a second year PhD student under Dr. Chris Morash in the Media Studies Centre within the Department of English at NUIM. She completed an MA in Media Studies in DIT. Her research interests lie in the area of the body and its space of representation in the Irish culture, focusing on Irish broadcasting.


Richko, Julie (School of Archaeology, UCD)

“Homes, Homelands And Identities: Archaeologies Of Nineteenth-Century Irish Peasantry And Its Diaspora”

 This body of work is an exploration of nineteenth-century Irish peasantry in Ireland and overseas via a theoretically informed archaeological analysis of its material cultures and respective domestic spaces. The principle guiding this research holds that society is constituted materially and spatially, and that sensitive analysis of any society’s objects and landscapes of habitation, from the household-scale upwards, is necessary if it is to be understood in any holistic sense. Using selected case studies, the primary aims in this thesis are to document aspects of the material culture and domestic-spatial organisation of Irish peasant society and the diaspora during the mid-1800s. Secondly, this work will explore the transformation or resistance to transformation, of materialities and spatialities during the Post Famine-era rent strikes and evictions leading to transnational diaspora. Finally, this paper will explore how those transformations, or resistances to transformation, reflect four particular conceptualisations and negotiations of identity at critical moments of political, social, geographical or ecological rupture: the national/political/ethnic (‘Irish’), the social (‘peasant’), the gendered, and the ‘self’.

Research on gender in archaeology has had a slow birth and was muted in its early stages. Ethnicity and gender are intrinsically tied to tensions and negotiations within and among colonial locations. The idea and understanding of home is gender and ethnic-specific, carrying severe implications and expectations for the manner in which people should behave in each context. Gender construction is intrinsic in the production and deconstruction of memory symbols and their meaning.

 By the very nature of archaeology, archaeological findings become promotions for a nationalistic agenda. Nevertheless, there has been a constant failure for social theory to fully understand nationalism. Archaeology is steadily becoming praxis, a theory of action. To expand on this topic, the following paper discusses the social changes that occurred in the nineteenth century in Ireland and abroad using the household as the locus for memory. These social changes, furthermore, have reflected and shaped the households in this locale of Europe and abroad.


I am a 2nd year PhD student at UCD in the School of Archaeology. I received my BA in Anthropology from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. I received my MA from Illinois State University in Historical Archaeology and will be presenting my findings from my thesis research.

Current Research:

I am currently involved in the excavation of Derryveagh homes in Co. Donegal while examining the social changes that occurred in the nineteenth century in Ireland and abroad using the household as the locus for memory. These social changes, furthermore, have reflected and shaped the households in this locale of Europe and abroad.


Sommariva, Annalisa (Comparative Literature, Trento University)

“Sex And The Irish Woman At The Turn Of The Century According To Two Irish Comedies”

 The cinematic representation both mirrors and shapes identity and attitudes all over the world. The fairly recent establishment of a film industry in Ireland meant that through most of the Twentieth century, the country and its inhabitants were only represented on the silver screen through the eyes of foreign filmmakers. It was not uncommon to present Ireland as a country of violent, superstitious and ignorant people who were dominated by the dogmas of Catholicism. Obviously this stereotype was adopted to view both men and women, forging some patterns of behaviour, especially concerning sexuality, strongly influenced by the Catholic moral teachings, which were considered part of the Irish character. Lately, Ireland has developed its own film industry, among obvious financial conundrums, but also the support of EU, and benefiting from a new wave of interest on the part of both America and EU. Through the discourse analysis of two comedies, She didn’t Say No (1958) and The Most Fertile Man in Ireland (1999), the paper will investigate the representation of women’s sexuality in Ireland, as depicted in these two instances. Though the 1999 film revolves around a male protagonist, it simultaneously offers a stimulating array of female characters. The paper will first highlight the archetypical role of each version of femininity in the films and then, assess weather these characters adhere to the stereotype, create a new role model or, on the other side, if they were created in response to a precise socio-political agenda. The analysis will be contextualized with references to both historical and legal aspects of women’s life in Irish society. Finally, the conclusions drawn will be compared with two other traditionally Catholic countries: Italy and Spain.


Annalisa Sommariva graduated from Università degli Studi di Trento in 2003 defending a thesis on the representation of the 1970s troubles in film. That same year she gave a paper at the First Irish Film Studies Postgraduate Seminar organized by Trinity College, Dublin, on Peter Mullan’s Magdalenes Sisters (2002). In November 2005, she was invited as a speaker at the Third Annual Irish Studies Conference at University of Sunderland. She is about to complete a PhD in Comparative Literature at Università degli Studi di Trento on literary and cinematic representation of historical events.


Tiernan, Sonja (WERRC, UCD)

“Refuse To Wear The Shackles Of Sex;” Cross-Dressing, Transexualism And Intersex In The Journal Urania 1916-1940

 In 1916 a group of radical thinkers, led by Eva Gore-Booth, established the journal Urania.  This pioneering journal advocated the elimination of gender and proposed to reform the categories of men and women into one ideal feminine form.  While Urania advocated the deconstruction of gender, sexuality and the sexed biological body, the editors took a unique approach; rather than attacking the constructs of both genders, ‘masculinity’ is presented as unpleasant while ‘femininity’ is the desired choice of having just ‘one’ gender.  The central argument for the elimination of gender was consistent throughout every issue; challenging mainstream feminism, medical sexology and perceived norms of society.  In this paper I focus on the area of cross dressing masquerade, transexualism and intersex. In this area Urania provides us with an alternative archive of radical feminist thought and contributes vital information towards the history of intersex and gender re-assignment.   


Sonja Tiernan is Teaching and Research Scholar in WERRC, School of Social Justice at UCD.  She is undertaking a PhD on the literature of Eva Gore-Booth (1870-1926). Sonja has a Higher Diploma and an MA in Women's Studies from WERRC and was awarded the UCD Open Postgraduate Scholarship for 2005-2006 and has recently published an article; "Tipping the Balance with Historical Fiction: Tipping the Velvet as a Lesbian Feminist Device," in Irish Feminist Review, Ed Rebecca Pelan.  2005, Vol 1, pp. 161-85.   


Trench, Rhona (Drama Studies, QUB)

Staging Morality In On Raftery’s Hill

 Set in the Midlands of Ireland, Irish playwright Marina Carr’s 2002 drama, On Raftery’s Hill, centres on the issues of incest and rape in the Raftery household. This paper examines the construction of morality through familial sexual violation, particularly in relation to the female. The relationship between the loss of subjectivity and the concealment of a destructive identity emerges in the play’s narrative and is explored. The paper examines how abusive sexual behaviour embodies the imprint of a vast range of social meanings in the drama, specifically how unsavoury social concerns are made to ‘disappear’ through forms of denial and avoidance. The complexities involved in the mechanisation of such relationships reveal the ways in which individual and social value systems are built around abusive sexual behaviour in the play. On Raftery’s Hill also demonstrates how a socially controlled transparency advocated by the Irish State and designated to ‘guarantee individual security’, actually perpetuates the risk of personal safety. Julia Kristeva’s notion of abjection, which examines a particular kind of implosive subjectivity as a result of self-abasement, is used to interrogate Carr’s characters in relation to the Raftery family. The play shows the difficulties in breaking the cycle of incest controlled by patriarchal power and which requires a system of individual compliance.


I am a final year doctoral student at Queen's University Belfast researching the plays of Contemporary Irish Dramatist Marina Carr 1988-2002. The trajectory of my thesis explores the confrontation of the past in the present in Carr's work. Julia Kristeva's Theory of Abjection as articulated in 'Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection' is central to framing the argument, and the research also engages with colonial and post colonial theory.I am contributing to a book volume on 'Contemporary Irish Theatre' published by Colin Smythe and Oxford University Press in 2007. Contributors include Terry Eagleton, Conal Morrison, Marina Carr, Brian Friel, Melissa Sihra and more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Women’s Studies Conference

University College Cork

[Supported by the Faculty of Arts]


‘If I knew then what I know now: A Women’s Studies Post Graduate Forum.’


O’Rahilly Building Room 132

10.15 a.m – 5.00 p.m. on Saturday 21st May 2005

(registration from 9.30)


10.15 a.m. Welcome.

      Keynote Address: Professor Mary Evans, University of Kent, Canterbury.


11.00 a.m.- 11.30 a.m. If I knew then what I know now! Session I


A short questions and answers session on issues such as relationships with supervisors, time management and managing stress.


Panel: Dr Jacqui O’Riordan (UCC), Catherine Naji (University of Manchester), Dr Carmel Quinlan (UCC), and panel facilitator Dr Katherine O’Donnell (WERRC, UCD).


11.30a.m. – 11.45a.m. Coffee break


11.45a.m. – 1.15 p.m. Work-in Progress Workshops Session I  - 4 parallel workshops



Workshop 1 - O’Rahilly Building  - Room 132 – Facilitator Dr Breda Gray


Pat O’Neill  (UCC MA graduate) Doing their fair share? Men’s participation in domestic duties


Claire Murray (Government of Ireland (IRCHSS) Scholar, Law Dept., UCC) Unravelling the Mental Health Statistics


Maura Dowling  (NUI Galway) "An exploration of the meaning of intimacy in nurse-patient relationships in oncology"




Workshop 2O’Rahilly Building - Room 144 – Facilitator Dr Rebecca Pelan


Claire Bracken (Government of Ireland (IRCHSS) Scholar, School of English, UCD) Nomadic Journeying Through Repetitive Difference’: Irish Feminist Paradigms and the Poetry of Catherine Walsh


Niamh Hehir (UL) An Application of Julia Kristeva’s Concept of the Semiotic and the Chora to an analysis of Medbh McGuckian’s poetry


Ruth McKee (TCD) Grazia Deledda and Irish Women Writers



Workshop 3– O’Rahilly Building - Room 145 – Facilitator Dr Clióna O Gallchóir [UCC]


Sonja Tiernan (WERRC, UCD) ‘An Angel Troubles the Waters’: The Literary Work of Eva Gore-Booth


Kalene Kenefick (UCC) "The Odd Woman:  The Woman Writer in the Fiction of Una Troy".


Joanna S. Wydenbach (QUB) The process of recovering Irish Women’s Fiction 1900-1924



 Workshop 4– O’Rahilly Building - Room 303 – Facilitator Dr Maire Leane


 Katherina Greiner (UCC) Female Friends and Mother-Substitutes: The Fairy Godmother in Nada, La vieja ley and Mientras vivimos

Clare O’Hagan (Government of Ireland (IRCHSS) Scholar, Dept. of Sociology, UL) Motherhood and Paid Work


Dr Anna Kingston (UCC) In the Name of the Good Mother: a feminist ethnography of mothers of children with special needs in Ireland



 1.15 p.m. – 2.10 p.m. Lunch [In the Staff Restaurant]



2.10 p.m. -2.35 p.m. Meeting re establishing an Irish Women’s Studies Postgraduate Network. Claire Bracken will say a few words about the Athena postgraduate student forum. (,




2. 35 p.m. – 3.45 p.m. Work-in Progress Workshops Session II


Workshop 5O’Rahilly Building – Room 144 Facilitator Dr Katherine O’Donnell


Linda Greene  (WERRC, UCD) A documentary and analytical study of lesbian athletes' experiences in Ireland from 1980-present


Angela O’Connell (NUI, Galway) Boulders in the Gateway: Legal and Social Barriers to Lesbian Family Formation in Ireland




Workshop 6O’Rahilly Building - Room 145 – Facilitator Dr Kathy Glavanis


Eve Phillips (UCC. MA graduate) Constructive or obstructive? Theoretical dilemmas in the practice of community development


Jen Dewan (Columbia   University, USA) Ethnographic Fear, or the Ghost of Nancy Scheper-Hughes



 Workshop 7O’Rahilly Building - Room 132 - Facilitator Prof. Patricia Coughlan


Louise Denmead  (UCC) Cleopatra and Representations of Gender and Race in Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedie of Mariam


Ann O’Flynn (UL) Utopia or Fool’s Paradise



 3.45p.m.-4.00p.m. Coffee break


 4.00 p.m. - 5.00p.m.  If I knew then what I know now! Session II.


          Getting Published(O’Rahilly Building Room 132)

 Panel facilitator: Dr Rebecca Pelan (Women’s Studies NUI Galway)

 Panel: Sara Wilbourne (formerly of Cork University Press); Terri McDonnell (Woodfield Press and Round Hall Press); Prof. Mary Evans (University of Kent, Canterbury).

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