Recovering Irish Women Writers: Lady Virginia Sandars, a Contemporary of Wilde, Hardy and Kipling

Dr Paul O’Brien (MIC, Limerick)

Lady Virginia Sandars (17 March 1828 – 26 January 1922)

Lady Virginia Frances Zerlina Taylour was the youngest daughter of Thomas Taylour, the 2nd Marquess of Headfort and Olivia Stevenson. A member of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy, Virginia lived in the large, eleven-bay Robert Adam designed, Headfort House in County Meath. Her father, Thomas Taylour, 2nd Marquess of Headfort, was connected through marriage to the Earl of Dunraven and the Earl of Spencer. The vast Taylour estate amounted to 20,000 acres in Cavan and Meath. Taylour represented Kells in the Irish parliament from 1776 to 1790, subsequently sitting as MP for Longford until 1794 and Meath until 1795.

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Research Pioneers 8: David Clare, Fiona McDonagh and Justine Nakase

David Clare, Fiona McDonagh and Justine Nakase are in the final stages of a project that promises to be a milestone in scholarship on women’s contribution to Irish theatre. They are co-editing the weighty two-volume collection The Golden Thread: Irish Women Playwrights (1716-2016), forthcoming with Liverpool University Press. This project evolved from their ‘Irish Women Playwrights and Theatremakers Conference’ at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, in June 2017. Together the editors combine expertise in Irish drama and theatre from the eighteenth century to the present.

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Reflections on the lockdown

We asked members to share their experiences of life in lockdown. In these strange times, we wonder, how quarantine is impacting our lives as scholars, students, and academics. Working from home is now the reality for so many globally. New work and research practices had to be put in place quickly, as the pandemic took hold, changing day to day. Universities and institutions changed to online provision, and libraries have been quick to update and extend online access. New professional development classes on virtual learning environments and communication tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams were rolled out. These measures all necessary to make sure all our citizens are protected.

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Research Pioneers 7: Margaret Kelleher

Margaret Kelleher’s first monograph on The Feminization of Famine and her co-edited volume on Gender Perspectives in Nineteenth-Century Ireland, both published in 1997, had gender questions at the very heart of her research. Her seminal work interrogated questions of tradition and canonicity in such influential articles as ‘Charlotte Riddell’s A Struggle for Fame: The Field of Women’s Literary Production’ (2000), ‘Writing Irish Women’s Literary History’ (2001) and ‘“The Field Day Anthology” and Irish Women’s Literary Studies’ (2003). We took the opportunity to ask her about the historiography of Irish women’s literary history and new opportunities for researchers in the digital age.

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Research pioneers 6: Gerardine Meaney

The publication in 2002 of The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing: Women’s Writing and Traditions volumes 4 and 5 was a watershed moment in Irish literary history. Gerardine Meaney was among the principal co-editors of this endeavour, which evolved in response to the failure of the initial three volumes of The Field Day Anthology to dedicate due attention to women’s contribution to Irish literature. Gerardine Meaney is also one of two Irish women to be awarded an ERC Advanced Grant in 2020, the first two women in Ireland, in any discipline, to gain such an award. In addition, she has shaped the field with her monographs on Gender, Ireland and Cultural Change (Routledge, 2010), the co-authored Reading the Irish Woman: Cultural Encounter and Exchange, 1714-1960 (Liverpool University Press, 2013), and extensive list of journal articles and chapters on a range of Irish women writers – including Katherine Cecil Thurston and Emily Lawless – stretching back more than three decades.

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