REVOLUTIONARY WOMEN: Irish Government launches website honouring females who helped shape Ireland
Irish History

REVOLUTIONARY WOMEN: Irish Government launches website honouring females who helped shape Ireland

A NEW website launched as part of Ireland’s Decade of Centenaries programme will ensure the role of woman in Irish history is properly documented and preserved for future generations. 

Launched by Ireland’s Culture Minister Catherine Martin on May 13, Mná 100 is described as a “new online women’s initiative”.

Part of the final stage of the Decade of Centenaries, “continues the work in highlighting the role of women in the revolutionary period, which began with the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme,” a spokesperson for Minister Martin’s Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, explained.

“The successful pop-up museum exhibition, 100 Years of Women in Politics and Public Life which ran from September 2018 to December 2020 also built on this work,” they add, before confirming: “This new initiative [Mná 100] will focus on the role that women played in the forthcoming centenaries as we look to events leading up to the Truce of July 1921, Partition, and Civil War.”

The website went live on May 13.

It will feature research, unseen photos and footage and the all-important stories regarding the role of women and women’s organisations in Ireland throughout some of the most pivotal moments in the nation’s history.

“New collaborations and partnerships will be developed to reflect on key themes, such as the role of women in advocating for Ireland internationally; the role of women’s organisations during the Campaign for Independence and the Civil War; women in the Oireachtas; and the stories of the pioneering women who were trailblazers within their chosen professions,” the Department spokesperson explained.

“The stories of these women will be brought to life for new audiences of all ages using a diverse range of media, including film, podcasts, exhibitions, webinars, public talks, and photo essays – all grounded in primary source material,” they add.

“The Mná 100 initiative will work with the National Cultural Institutions, institutes of learning, local authority partners, creatives and artists, relatives and other contributors to bring new material into the public domain to “ensure that the role of women during these formative years will be remembered appropriately”, the Department has also confirmed.

The first piece of major new research which features on the website is the Report of the American Commission on the Conditions in Ireland, which is presented through a new curated video piece showcasing original research and previously unseen photos and documents.

Entitled Toward America, the film documents American women who used their acumen and influence to assist the Irish campaign for independence and the humanitarian aid distributed by the Irish White Cross to those adversely affected as the result of conflict in Ireland – in particular women and children.

Launching the new website, Minister Martin said: “I am really pleased to launch Mná 100 today.

“One of my priorities for the final phase of the Decade of Centenaries is to ensure that the contribution of women in our history, particularly during the Irish revolutionary period, is appropriately documented and illuminated.”

She added: “This new online platform gives us a dedicated place to provide a range of content on the role of women in the seminal moments of our journey towards self-determination and sovereignty.

“Some of these women are familiar figures, while the voices of others have never before been heard or have long since been forgotten.  I am delighted that all of these women are taking their rightful place in our history.”

She added: “The international dimension too is particularly engaging and, indeed, very enlightening.

“One of the highlights of Mná 100 is ‘Toward America’ – a specially curated short film, which tells the story of the women who came together to bring international attention to the ongoing conflict in Ireland a century ago, and its devastating impact - particularly the plight of Irish children.

“Drawing on original research and images generously provided from collections in Ireland and the United States, this new film illuminates the work of the American Committee on Conditions in Ireland, The Irish Committee for Relief in Ireland, and the formation of the Irish White Cross’.”

In a nod to the Irish-American theme to the first piece of new research revealed through the new website, Mná 100 was launched simultaneously in Ireland and at Glucksman Ireland House, the Centre for Irish and Irish-American Studies, in New York last week.

“This is just one of many collaborative initiatives, grounded in archival collections and primary source material, which will bring a renewed focus on women’s participation in political, military, professional, and domestic roles,” Ms Martin said.

“We will acknowledge too the loss and violence suffered by women during this period.”

She added: “100 years later, we reflect on all that has been achieved and the work which still remains to bring equality to all aspects of women’s lives.”

Heather Humphreys, Minister of Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands, helped launch the project last week.

“I am delighted to be part of the launch of this exciting new initiative – the work that was started in 2016 is continuing apace and I am delighted to see the role of women being highlighted in new and innovative ways,” she said.

“For too long, women’s voices and influence during the revolutionary period were unrecognised.

“Yet, these women were agents of change in their own right and paved the way for generations of women to follow – all driven by ideals of equality, justice, fairness, and public service.

“This new resource presents a wonderful opportunity to document and highlight their many diverse contributions.

“I look forward to the ongoing development of this initiative.”

To view the website click here.