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Editors' Note: The historical silence and silencing of Irish women referred to by Eavan Boland in her introduction has been decisively broken by all the women writers contributing to our special double issue. We begin with a very relevant contemporary section entitled, Women's Reflections on the Peace. It begins with Monica McWilliams detailing the various activities of different groups making up Northern Ireland's women's movement since the mid-1970s as it attempted to respond to the impact of sectarian violence on individual women and their families. Their very diversity reflects political and domestic involvement heretofore ignored in mainstream writings about the "troubles." Then Eilish Rooney discusses the general divisions among republican, nationalist, and unionist women in Northern Ireland that have arisen in the last quarter-century suggesting that in their opposition to one another nationalist, republican, and unionist women may have actually learned how much they have in common and how to construct tactical alliances with each other. Both pieces emphasize the importance of capturing the recent activities and memories of those still living for history while they are still fresh and before their records and those women who died in the struggle are lost or destroyed. This section thus reflects the minds and voices of the women in Northern Ireland. Authors in the Article section also capture the minds and voices of Irish women. This is especially true of Margaret MacCurtain, who like Gerda Lerner and Anne Firor Scott in the United States, pioneered the field of Irish women's history. Her lead article is about a most important group of women in Irish history: Roman Catholic sisters. It is followed by Sue Ellen Hoy's discussion of women religious who left Ireland in the nineteenth century establish to convents and become teachers, nurses, and administrators in the United States. The sophisticated changes in the historical treatment of religious orders are also evident in writing about other groups of Irish women, but it seems more appropriate to start with them because they continue to play unsung professional and feminist roles in modem Ireland. If voices of Irish women's history and solidarity begin anywhere, it is within religious sisterhoods. The next set of articles deals with women and politics in the Irish Free State during the interwar years. Maryann Gialanella Valiulus points out that in keeping with most post-liberation countries, the Irish Republic utilized female symbols and imagery for its own purposes without recognizing women as full citizens. While Mary E. Daly duly notes the decline in the Irish women's movement in the early years of the Free State, she © 1995 Journal of Women's History, Vol 6 No. 4/Vol 7 No. 1 (Winter/Spring) 1995 Editors' Note 11 demonstrates that despite discriminatory practices, female employment, and migration patterns, especially in the 1930s, women sometimes benefitted more than previously recognized. Both articles raise the issue of women in a time of heightened nationalism and violence. This topic is most poignantly and graphically dealt with in International Trends by Ailbhe Smyth, as she discusses the importance of feminism in countering the sexism of all nation states. Her reflections are followed by another Eavan Boland poem, "Mise Eire," about the personal dislocation and sadness brought about by the forces dividing Ireland. The last article by Lisa M. Bitel takes us back to the legal status of women in the early medieval period, noting that the ambivalence about women in Irish society was present from the very beginning. And so we have the triad of Irish history: religion, politics, and law. But in this special issue women assume their rightful place in that triad—at the center, rather than on the margins. Mary Condren, in the section on Works-in-Progress, shares with us her latest theoretical work, interpreting the symbolic and mythopoeic ways in which Irish men used pagan and Christian sacrificial imagery and theology to destroy female images and genealogies during and after the Rising to subordinate the claims of feminism to that of nationalism and the state. It is a powerful indictment of all wars, whether imperialist or nationalist , and of liberation movements for betraying and destroying women's bodies as well as...


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