As part of Seachtain na Gaeilge, the story of how Irish women obtained the vote is a story of organisation and bravery in the face of ignorance, indifference and hostility. In the decade of political anniversaries in Ireland it provides a very different understanding of Home Rule, World War I and the Irish revolutionary period. Every main political party in Ireland and Britain opposed votes for women in the lead up to WWI – women were barred from voting in Westminster, and were also going to barred in any Dublin, or Belfast based parliament. It was left to women themselves, with the assistance of a minority of radical socialist and republican men, to actively work to secure the vote that was finally achieved for women over 30 in 1918, in a much changed country following the upheaval of WWI and the 1916 rising.
Dr Margaret Ward is a feminist historian. Her books include Unmanageable Revolutionaries: women and Irish nationalism, and biographies of Maud Gonne and Hanna Sheehy Skeffington. She was Director of the Women’s Resource and Development Agency from 2005-2013 and is now a Visiting Fellow in Irish History with Queen’s University. Her current research interests include the Ulster Suffrage Movement and the impact of the Great War on women in Belfast.
Gael – Ionad Mhic Goill