Women and War: Ireland in the Twentieth Century

Newcastle University: 19th March 2015

Keynote Speaker: Dr Moynagh Sullivan (NUI Maynooth).

Evening Readings by: Colette Bryce and TBC

The purpose of this day is to gather together researchers who are interested in discussing the role of women in Ireland throughout the prolonged periods of conflict and unrest that marked the twentieth century. The day will include a keynote address and a round-table discussion by a panel of experts on the way that women have been effected by war during the twentieth century and how this has been represented. There will also be readings by creative writers who have an interest in this subject. Multi-media and interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged.

Ireland in the twentieth century was beset by conflict, trauma and war. This has had a detrimental effect on the lives of all who have lived throughout these times, which continues to impact on women’s lives. War within Ireland’s context has had particular connotations for how women have been placed within society and for progressing feminist struggles. Women continue to fight to find a platform for their stories and to be part of the public discussions both about the historic and current political debates concerning conflict and war.

Recent commemorative projects have focused on the history of wars in Ireland: WWI during the political unrest in Ireland, the approaching centenary of the 1916 Rebellion, the events that ultimately led to Ireland’s independence and the creation of the separate six counties of Northern Ireland. In addition Ireland’s neutrality during WWII impacted all of Ireland, but particularly the border regions between north and south until long after the Emergency was over, thus bringing continued trauma into women’s lives. The thirty years of the Northern Ireland Troubles extended war into the streets and homes, and women bore the hardships of poverty, loss of housing and employment, imprisonment, grief and often daily fear.

Women’s experiences and responses to these events need to heard.  This symposium questions women’s roles during times of war, how their lives were impacted by the effects of war, how they are represented in times of war, how they are reflecting back or memorialising their experiences of the war, the part women are playing in the peace process in Northern Ireland, and how women conceive the impact of war on their identities.

Funded and Supported by the Gender Research Group

Already Confirmed:

  • Dr Cathy Gormley-Heenan (University of Ulster);
  • Dr Anne Whitehead (Newcastle University);
  • Dr Lucy Collins (UCD); Dr Fidelma Ashe (University of Ulster);
  • Dr Paula Blair (Newcastle University);
  • Dr Una Convery (University of Ulster);
  • Dr Linda Moore (University of Ulster).

 Call for Papers:

The programme will include a series of 20 minute papers on women and war in Ireland on topics such as, but not restricted to:

  • the historical role of women during war and conflict
  • the influence of gendered war propaganda
  • the problematic relationship of women in politics during war
  • the role of religion on women’s lives
  •  the figure of Mother Ireland
  • social problems, such as domestic violence and employment specific to women during war
  • women and pacifism
  • women as historical witnesses
  • women’s literary and theatrical representations of war
  • women and borders
  • the impact of war on Irish feminist groups
  • women and prison
  • memorialising the war from the female perspective
  • post-war gendered identities

Please submit a 250 word abstract along with your name and affiliation to:

The final date for submission of the abstract is 23rd February 2015.

Any queries for clarifications can also be send to the above address. Please also indicate if you would like to be considered for the round-table discussion or have any questions that you may wish to have raised during this discussion.

The event, which is supported by the Gender Research Group, will includes coffee breaks and lunch. Any dietary needs will be accommodated as far as possible on request.

Attendees can also choose to remain for a literary event in the evening that will relate to Irish women and war, which will include creative writers from the English Department.

Please note that delegates may end the evening by joining us for a dinner at a local restaurant. This will be organised separately to the main event. Please let us know in advance if you wish to be included.

The event will be held mainly on the ground floor of the Percy Building. There is disabled access and a lift. Please let us know if you have any special requirements.

 There are a large number of hotels, B&B and hostels in and around the Newcastle and Gateshead areas that cater for most needs and budgets. There is also good public transport, which includes a metro system that links to the airport and central train station.