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Irish women in World War I


JohnD66

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May 20, 2010
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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.
 

Hitch 22

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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.
 

JohnD66

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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 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?
 

irelandmearsedotcom

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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!
 

JohnD66

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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.
 

Astral Peaks

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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......
 

Hitch 22

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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.
 

Astral Peaks

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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.
 

JohnD66

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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.
And we have stereotype.
 

Analyzer

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It is very important that we venerate those who sacrificed so much for a war between various empires. Because Imperialism might come back, and the sacrifice might be needed again. Let's not for one minute consider that WWI might have caused a century of warfare that continues to this day, and that the war to end wars, caused more wars than any other. Let's not contemplate the failure of diplomacy. Let's not think about the effectiveness of propaganda to get people to volunteer to get involved in an activity that might see them hopping around on one leg for the rest of their lives. Or that these people were being used by their social betters, and led by the idle aristocracy who were fit for very little else except making war on each other. Nope. Let's have none of it.

Let's condition ourselved to regret not being more involved in even more mass murder, mayhem, and misery. Let those with the good sense to opt be villified.

Those of you who ever thought otherwise whould be presented with material for guilt-trips a every possible opportunity.
 
Last edited:

JohnD66

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It is very important that we venerate those who sacrificed so much for a war between various empires. Because Imperialism might come back, and the sacrifice might be needed again. Let's not for one minute consider that WWI might have caused a century of warfare that continue to this day, or that diplomacy might have been useful, or that these people were being used by their social betters. Nope. Let's condition ourselves to regret not being more involved in even more mass murder, mayhem, and misery.
Nobody's 'venerating' it. It's social history.

My opinion on WWI here

Opinion: Remembering World War I in Ireland | The Irish Story
 

Hitch 22

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And we have stereotype.
It's not a stereotype. It's true.

However this phenomena was not just confined to Ireland. In Britain and the United States in the wake of World War I and World War 2 in which women worked in manufacturing and heavy industries while their men went to the front to fight post war the women were expected to provide domestic bliss and children while their men returned to their "proper" role of the breadwinner. Both post war periods were eras of suffocating conservatism. During periods of political, social and economic flux women won greater freedom but when conditions stabilize conformity becomes dominant. The 1960s were revolutionary as women benefited from the pill and modern kitchen appliances that meant women could control their reproduction and had the free time to have a career. At a stroke the patriarchal society was blown away.
 

irelandmearsedotcom

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Wasting your time, it's Hitch22.

If there isn't a Youtube video, a stereotype will do......
So what you mean regarding "Hitch 22 "is that he is pretending to be mad to get out of Politics.ie but he can't really be mad because he must be sane to want to get out of the maddness of politics.ie ..ne c'est pas!
 

former wesleyan

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And we have stereotype.
Thing is, there's nothing wrong with stereotyping where the evolved society conforms to the stereotype. As the author of " Love in a cold climate " said on the VB show last night , " the Irish are being shocked and horrified all the time". One reason for this is the constant refusal to face up to reality.
 

Glaucon

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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.
Why didn't more join during the Famine era, and thereafter, if it was merely about "hunger"? During Ireland's long autumn of occupation, British soldiers (often Irish-born ones) were used to evict honest, hardworking people from their homes because an absentee landlord decreed that they weren't paying enough rent, or simply, as in the case of the notorious Mrs. Gerrard during the Famine, wanted them gone to convert the land to pasture despite their paying every penny that was demanded of them. These people were either forced to emigrate, or simply died for want.

Becoming the oppressors of your own people (or other peoples throughout the British Empire) to "avoid hunger" doesn't make you any less of a contemptible, lily-livered b*stard. Those who joined that army were traitors to their country and rightly dwell in nothingness, forgotten by those whom they betrayed.

I don't see what an individual's sex life, or lack thereof, has to do with armed action or the struggle to free one's nation from the clutches of the Empire.
 

Lain2016

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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.
Tell us about that...

 

statsman

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Feb 25, 2011
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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.
And we have stereotype.
Thing is, there's nothing wrong with stereotyping where the evolved society conforms to the stereotype. As the author of " Love in a cold climate " said on the VB show last night , " the Irish are being shocked and horrified all the time". One reason for this is the constant refusal to face up to reality.
The reason these things become stereotypes is because they contain a core of truth.
 
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