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Sources and Resources for the Study of Irish Women's History Maria Luddy and Ctiona Murphy, eds. Women Surviving: Studies in Irish Women's History in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Dublin: Poolbeg, 1989.283 pp. ISBN 1-85371-064-4. Margaret MacCurtain and Mary O7DoWd, eds. Women in Early Modern Ireland. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1991. 340 pp. ISBN 0-7486-0223-2. Ailbhe Smyth, ed. Irish Women's Studies Reader. Dublin: Attic, 1993.279 pp. ISBN 1-85594-052-3. Moureen Coulter Despite—or perhaps because of—the longstanding Irish tradition of personifying the nation as a woman (Cathleen ni Houlihan or the Sean Bhean Bhocht), the history of real Irish women has received tittle scholarly attention until relatively recent times. In this respect Irish women have shared the double invisibitity of other colonized women, their experiences etided first into those of their Engtish overlords and secondly into those of Irish men. The interest in EngUsh women's history generated by the late Vidorian and Edwardian campaign for women's suffrage found no paraUel across the Irish Sea, even though, as Margaret MacCurtain and Mary O'Dowd point out in their exceUent introduction to Women in Early Modern Ireland, the early twentieth century was "a time when Irish women historians received greater recognition and status than they have ever done since" (p. 1). Mary Hayden and Mary Donovan O'Sultivan were the first professors of history at University CoUege, Dublin , and University CoUege, Galway, appointed in 1911 and 1914 respectively . Like their subsequent colleagues Constantia MaxweU, Alice Stopford Green, Eleanor Knott, and Ada Longfield, Hayden and O'Sultivan did pioneering research in Irish sodal and economic history "which occasionaUy touched on the role of women in sodety, but none diose to explore the topic in any depth" (p. 1). After partition the Irish historical profession became increasingly the preserve of men whose research shifted away from sodal and economic topics to poUtical ones. Women, already marginalized as subjeds of study, were also marginalized as scholars. In the 1970s these trends began to be reversed by the Irish women's movement and the concomitant revival, within the Irish historical profession , of interest in sodal and economic issues. The three volumes under review testify to the extent and variety of research into Irish women's © 1995 Journal of Women's History, Vol 6 No. 4/Vol 7 No. ι (Winter/Spring) 1995 Book Review: Moureen Coulter 237 history that has been undertaken during the past quarter century and make some of its results available to non-Irish readers. CoUectively the books survey the history of women in Ireland from 1500 to the present day. The twenty-one essays induded in Women in Early Modern Ireland are particularly noteworthy for their coverage of the sixteenth , seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, a transformative era in Irish history that the loss of the national archives in 1922 has made extremely difficult to investigate. Two of the prindpal sources of information about women's Uves in any era—parish registers and wiBs—are virtuaUy nonexistent for the years before 1800. It is to the credit of the contributors that their essays shed as much tight on alternative source materials as they do on their subjeds. FuUy a third of the contributors make use of Gaetic documents and texts that might otherwise be inaccessible to English-speaking historians. The difference that the indusion of GaeUc-language material can make to our understanding of Irish poUtical as weU as sodal history is demonstrated by Ciaran Brady in "Potitical Women and Reform in Tudor heland ," which emphasizes the active role that some women played in resisting such Engtish innovations as "surrender and regrant." Other essays that incorporate Gaetic sources indude Jerrold Casway's "Irish Women Overseas, 1500-1800," Bernadette Cunningham's "Women and GaeUc Literature, 1500-1800," Margaret MacCurtain's "Women, Education , and Learning in Early Modern Ireland," and Anne O'Connor's 'Women in Irish Folklore: The Testimony regarding fllegitimacy, Abortion, and Infantidde." WhUe the essays in Women in Early Modern Ireland explore topics as diverse as the Uves of female pirates and male midwives, their findings bear on three basic historiographical themes: Irish women's spiriruaUty and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 236-239
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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