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Thread: Irish women in World War I

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    Default Irish women in World War I

    Interview here with historian Fionnuala Walsh on Irish wmoen's experiences during the First World War.

    Irish Women and World War I – an Interview with Fionnuala Walsh. | The Irish Story

    Fionnuala Walsh tracks the advances made by women during the war – working in factories, contributing to the war effort, nursing at the front and concludes that some strides were made towards gender equality but that these things were seen by most people at the time as temporary ‘aberrations’.

    One group of women who were particularly affected by the war were the ’separation women, so called because they were paid ‘separation money’ while their husbands served at the front. The separation women were a much-maligned group. Middle class women formed ‘patrols’ to make sure they were not ‘behaving improperly’ by drinking too much or ‘consorting’ with soldiers other than their husbands.


    Equally, when, in the Easter Rising of 1916, the Volunteers found inner city Dublin women objecting to their turning the city centre into a battlefield, they also blamed the separation women, allegedly the dregs of the Dublin slums. Opposition between separatists and the wives of servicemen was not confined to the Rising either. Walsh talks about violent confrontation between at a parade in Limerick in 1915 and in Waterford during the election campaign of 1918, when some Volunteers said they were more afraid of the Redmondite women than men.

    Meanwhile, another group of women in Cumman na mBan were aiding nationalist insurrection, but Walsh tells us they did so in very gender specific roles – tending the wounded, cooking the food, carrying messages, but not fighting.

    In 1918, women (along with the bulk of adult males) for the first time received the right to vote.

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    Joining the British Army was not a matter of choice but necessity. If you live in a slum and your wife and children are literally starving you would have done anything to give them an income which is why men joined up. Poor people have to eat and they don't give a sh*t about politics or middle class preoccupations about Celtic mythology which obsessed the quite frankly oddball Patrick and Willie Pearse who like many more of the heroic rebel dead went to their graves as virgins.

    After independence a bunch of macho ivory tower social and religious conservatives took over. They saw themselves as military men, patriots and heroes. Many of these men were austere Catholics, teetotalers and for them sex was procreative and nothing more. Any other attitude was "British" or "foreign."

    They simply were not interested in women and their problems so they shunted it onto the Church. Monto was cleaned up and the prostitutes thrown into Magdalene Laundries. Women were treated as the property of their husbands and expected to breed and bring up broods of children and slave in the kitchen. Infanticide, child mortality and brutal childhoods were widespread but taboo.

    It seems that uppity women were the enemy of the Gaelic Catholic Ireland that these visionaries wanted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hitch 22 View Post
    Joining the British Army was not a matter of choice but necessity. If you live in a slum and your wife and children are literally starving you would have done anything to give them an income which is why men joined up. Poor people have to eat and they don't give a sh*t about politics or middle class preoccupations about restoring the days of the Celtic mythology which obsessed the quite frankly oddball Patrick and Willie Pearse who like many more of the heroic rebel dead went to their graves as virgins.

    After independence a bunch of macho ivory tower social and religious conservatives took over. They saw themselves as military men, patriots and heroes.

    They simply were not interested in women and their problems so they shunted it onto the Church. Monto was cleaned up and the prostitutes thrown into Magdalene Laundries. Women were treated as the property of their husbands and expected to breed and bring up broods of children and slave in the kitchen. Infanticide, child mortality and brutal childhoods were widespread but taboo.

    It seems that uppity women were the enemy of the Gaelic Catholic Ireland that these visionaries wanted.
    Stereotype much?

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    Thank you for starting a thoroughly original thread and link. It might not be very popular on this blog but thats all good. Nobody is popular on this blog ....that's
    The whole idea isn't it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnD66 View Post
    Stereotype much?
    Why don't you actually read about it?


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    See what I mean!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hitch 22 View Post
    Why don't you actually read about it?

    I have thanks. It's all a tad more nuanced than you're portraying however. To give just one instance, inner city Dublin, the area with most 'separation women' voted (anti-Treaty) republican in 1923 - the first time all women over 21 had the vote.

    The Magdalene Laundries etc were the products of Catholic Church power - something some nationalist revolutionaries were very keen on of course, but others weren't. To say that cultural nationalists were fighting for the 'macho' subjugation of women is a silly caricature.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnD66 View Post
    I have thanks. It's all a tad more nuanced than you're portraying however. To give just one instance, inner city Dublin, the area with most 'separation women' voted (anti-Treaty) republican in 1923 - the first time all women over 21 had the vote.

    The Magdalene Laundries etc were the products of Catholic Church power - something some nationalist revolutionaries were very keen on of course, but others weren't. To say that cultural nationalists were fighting for the 'macho' subjugation of women is a silly caricature.
    Wasting your time, it's Hitch22.

    If there isn't a Youtube video, a stereotype will do......
    "Don't need a whore, I don't need no booze, don't need a virgin priest."

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnD66 View Post
    I have thanks. It's all a tad more nuanced than you're portraying however. To give just one instance, inner city Dublin, the area with most 'separation women' voted (anti-Treaty) republican in 1923 - the first time all women over 21 had the vote.

    The Magdalene Laundries etc were the products of Catholic Church power - something some nationalist revolutionaries were very keen on of course, but others weren't. To say that cultural nationalists were fighting for the 'macho' subjugation of women is a silly caricature.
    Basically if women were not obedient, innocent, chaste and virginal before marriage and after marriage were not obedient to their husbands, not saintly selfless uncomplaining mothers and not content with life in the kitchen, they were outcasts. They had to conform to the mold that ideologues who wanted a Gaelic Catholic and Free Ireland wanted. The poor were ideologically suspect and hated by the middle and upper class nationalists because they continue to enjoy foreign games, speak the alien hated tongue and went for cinema and popular literature and music rather than Gaelic purity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hitch 22 View Post
    Basically if women were not obedient, innocent, chaste and virginal before marriage and after marriage were not obedient to their husbands, not saintly selfless uncomplaining mothers and not content with life in the kitchen, they were outcasts. They had to conform to the mold that ideologues who wanted a Gaelic Catholic and Free Ireland wanted. The poor were ideologically suspect and hated by the middle and upper class nationalists because they continue to enjoy foreign games, speak the alien hated tongue and went for cinema and popular literature and music rather than Gaelic purity.
    Your lack of any hint of sophistication or nuance in your opinions confirms to me that you really are very intellectually immature, no matter your chronological age.
    "Don't need a whore, I don't need no booze, don't need a virgin priest."

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