Irish Women and Street Politics, 1956-1973: 'This could be contagious'

Irish Women and Street Politics, 1956-1973: 'This could be contagious'

by Tara Keenan-Thompson


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In 1972 Hibernia quoted a female street leader in Belfast who spoke of 'living women's liberation - not talking it like the middle-class sisters in America: not burning bras but rattling bin lids'. This anonymous woman, and others like her, created activist networks that redefined women's roles in Irish society. Together these women presented a damning critique of the traditional gender contract and through their work they demonstrated that another concept of womanhood was possible. Irish Women and Street Politics presents a probing and fascinating history of radicalism in both parts of Ireland from 1956-1973 by charting the interaction between feminism and republicanism, civil rights advocacy, housing activism, and left-wing politics. Drawing on a broad range of source material it brings together for the first time a comprehensive analysis of women's roles within the wider spectrum of Irish radicalism throughout Ireland, Britain and the US. Media analysis and original interviews with key activists like Mary Kenny, Mary Maher, Edwina Stewart, Dolours Price and Máirn de Burca, augment comprehensive archival research. This book reveals how women on the margins of Irish political opinion worked to change their society. Their tactics shocked many who disagreed with their message. But these very tactics confirmed that a new generation of Irish women was no longer content to help the cause; they would lead it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780716530275
Publisher: Irish Academic Press
Publication date: 03/31/2010
Pages: 306
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vi

List of Tables viii

Acknowledgements ix

List of Abbreviations xi

Foreword xiii

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 'Sure, I didn't do much': Women, Republicanism and Radical Activism in the 1950s 19

Chapter 2 'Surely women aren't inferior': A Case Study of Activism in Dungannon, 1963-7 61

Chapter 3 Putting themselves in every story: New Visions of Womanhood and Republicanism in the Irish Republic, 1967-9 101

Chapter 4 [Sic]: Women and Civil Rights in Northern Ireland, 1968/9 135

Chapter 5 The Sinn Féin demand': Feminism and Republicanism in the Irish Republic, 1968-73 173

Chapter 6 'Not burning bras but rattling bin lids': Women and Militant Republicanism in Northern Ireland, 1970-3 213

Conclusion 248

Bibliography 254

Index 273

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