Date of this Version
Lockman, Velma. "Hush ma cailín: Irish Women and Egalitarian Nationalism." Honors Undergraduate Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 2022.
In October 1997, the members of the Army Executive of the Provisional Irish Republican Army who favored an end to the decades-long insurgency against British rule in the occupied six counties of Ireland outmaneuvered and forced the resignations of those who supported continuing the war. Among those forced to resign was the one woman on the Army Executive. She and her comrades would coalesce around Bernadette Sands McKevitt as the dissidents prepared to fight on under the banner of the Real Irish Republican Army while the majority of the insurgents laid down their arms. The Continuity Irish Republican Army simultaneously prepared to launch a new insurgency campaign. Both movements had significant contributions in leadership and membership from women. National liberation struggles are often analyzed as distinctly masculine phenomena in which men bearing arms seek to convey and reinforce notions of conventional masculinity, which has the effect of reinforcing patriarchal social structures. However, left unanswered in such narratives is what role women saw for themselves in the national liberation struggle in Ireland, and why the continuation of the struggle was, despite the will of most men in the upper echelons of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, supported and even actively catalyzed by republican women? Answering this question demands an analysis of women’s involvement in the national liberation struggle in Ireland and how that influenced gendered hierarchies in society and in the liberation movement itself. This paper argues that women’s participation in the nationalist struggle in Ireland gave them the opportunity to assert their autonomy and equality to men, to establish a stake in the political destiny of the new nation that would rise from the struggle, and to influence the movement to take up the causes of social justice and women’s equality within the framework of national liberation, thus securing the movement as the political home of progressive Irish women. Their role in the post-1998 dissident movement was a continuation of this trajectory.