Most sources report that 250-300 women fought in the 1916 Easter Uprising. Only the Countess Markievicz achieved notoriety. However, military service pension records contain applications of more than 800 Irish women who claimed service in the revolution. Public consciousness of women’s participation emerged in three eras: the revolutionary period, the years surrounding the 50th anniversary of the Rising, and the 2016 Centenary. My work, and that of other feminist scholars, has restored them to prominence in the nationalist narrative.
The repeated elision of Irish women’s roles in the establishment of the Irish Republic stemmed in part from the adoption of the 1937 Constitution which proclaimed the home as the appropriate place for women, and childrearing as their natural activity. The advent of state-operated Irish radio (2RN) and television (RTÉ) inadvertently changed the narrative of twentieth-century Irish feminism. This project reveals the ways Irish women of the revolutionary generation challenged the government’s erasure of women’s contributions from public memory. These women co-opted the propagandistic power of radio and television, resurrecting women's contribution to the birth of modern Ireland. Although some were self-proclaimed feminists, most were not; their goal was not to dismantle the misogynistic government, but to voice the extent of the female contribution to an independent Ireland. I rely on multiple primary sources including television and radio interviews with women of the revolutionary generation and commemorative radio and television broadcasts from the RTÉ Archives. Secondary sources include historical monographs about Irish radio and television, personal accounts of the founders of radio and television in the country, and scholarship on the relationship between media and feminist memory study.
My presentation includes multimedia display of RTÉ television and radio interviews, allowing visitors to literally, rather than figuratively, hear the feminine voice of the revolution, an interactive map connecting the women and the locations of their revolutionary activities in Dublin, (constructed with ArcGIS, ESRI StoryMaps,) and Word Cloud(s) diagramming the masculine voice of the interviewers.