Research Pioneers 10: Mary S. Pierse

Research Pioneers 10 – Mary S Pierse

Mary S. Pierse edited, in 2010, the pioneering Irish Feminisms, 1810-1930 (Routledge). In these five volumes, she brought together 180 documents from a variety of genres that invite enticing and creative connections between historical documents, periodical press contributions, and literary texts. ‘The scale of editorial endeavour here’, Margaret Kelleher’s review of the collection notes, ‘was clearly immense and the achievement, including imaginative selections and meticulous textual detail, is warmly to be welcomed’ and goes on to refer to the timeliness of Pierse’s project: ‘Read in the context of our contemporary economic and social crises, the relevance of many of the writings collected by Pierse (including political manifestoes, crusading journalism, new educational agendas, as well as poetic and fictional reimaginings of personal and social responsibility) appears even more compelling.’ Among those many Irish women writers whose works Pierse’s retrieval efforts draws renewed attention to are M. E. Francis, Rosamund Jacob, Katherine Cecil Thurston, Rosa Mulholland and Nora Hopper.

Read More

Research Pioneers 9: Elke D’hoker

In 2011, Elke D’hoker co-edited a ground-breaking collection of essays entitled Irish Women Writers: New Critical Perspectives (Peter Lang). Seminal in the field, this work helped to shape the critical framework of Irish women’s writing and acted to lead the way for future researchers. Among her expansive list of publications in English and French on Irish writers from the late nineteenth century onwards, D’hoker’s 2016 study Irish Women Writers and the Modern Short Story (Palgrave, 2016) stands out for making an innovative contribution to the corpus of research. By focusing on the genre’s development from the late nineteenth century via the works of George Egerton and Somerville and Ross to the twenty-first century with attention to collections by Anne Enright and Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, this book offers a compelling analysis of the ‘lines of influence’ that connect Irish women writers across space and time. Heather Ingman has described this study as ‘a stimulating and engaging account that justifies its focus on women writers by the fresh angles it opens up on the Irish short story so often viewed as settled around themes and styles defined by male writers and critics.’

Read More

From the archives: Annie M.P. Smithson Correspondence with Edmund Downey

Kathleen Williams, Network Team

In 2016 staff at the John J. Burns Library at Boston College had opportunity to review a large collection of materials related to Irish women during the revolutionary period in Ireland that had been assembled by collector Loretta Clarke Murray.  These materials in many cases spanned the time frame that included the pre-1916 Rising period through the Civil War, and for papers of some figures such as Kathleen Clarke, up to the mid-20th century.

Read More

Network Publication: Irish Women Writers at the Turn of the Twentieth Century: Alternative Histories, New Narratives

Edited by Kathryn Laing and Sinéad Mooney

Introduction: “A Palpable Energy”

Kathryn Laing and Sinéad Mooney

Silenced female voices, the gendered gaps and absences in archives and literary histories, and silence as theme and technique, all feature in many of the essays included in this collection. Addressing these occlusions and retrieving these voices is the chief thread that connects this project to numerous predecessors, not least the groundbreaking publication in 2002 of volumes IV and V of the Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, dedicated to women’s writing and traditions in response to their underrepresentation in the original three volumes. However, Irish Women Writers at the Turn of the Twentieth Century: Alternative Histories, New Narratives, while still addressing itself to issues of representation, retrieval and reconsideration of the silenced, ironically finds itself participating in a rich and multi-voiced critical conversation.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Research Pioneers 5: Lucy Collins

Lucy CollinsPoetry by Women in Ireland: A Critical Anthology 1870-1970, published by Liverpool University Press in 2012, has made a crucial intervention in the field of Irish women’s literary history. As one reviewer described it, it reveals ‘a hitherto hidden history of poetry’ and ‘contradict[s] the received narrative of Irish poetry’. Anthologies form a vital part of recovery work that opens up new avenues for research and reinvigorates teaching practice. We’ve taken the opportunity to ask Collins to reflect on the opportunities and challenges of such critical editing.

Read More