Impact of Famine on women 'written out' of history

Impact of Famine on women 'written out' of history

WOMEN have been written out of the Famine period of Irish history, according to academics at Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

In order to redress the balance Liverpool-born Professor Christine Kinealy - an expert on the Famine - has organised a conference examining the experiences of women during the Great Hunger.

“Irish women have been systematically excluded and silenced in written history,” she told The Irish Post, “thus denying them their rightful position as agents of change.”

She added: “In regard to Ireland’s Great Hunger, while many contemporary depictions of the Famine have been dominated by female imagery, the involvement of women in other ways, such as as landowners, as relief-givers or providers for the family, has received little attention.”

Last month Prof Kinealy, who is the founding Director of the Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, made a call for papers for their four-day conference, entitled Women and the Great Hunger in Ireland, which takes place in June.

“This conference asks how did women experience—and shape—the tragedy that unfolded in Ireland between 1845 and 1852,” she explained.

“And how does the Great Hunger compare with the experience of women in other famines?” she added.

Keynote speakers already signed up for the Connecticut event include Margaret Ward, Honorary Research Fellow in History at Queen’s University Belfast, Jason King, of NUI Galway and Ciarán Reilly, a Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses & Estates at NUI Maynooth.

But the conference, which seeks to explore the ‘diverse and largely undiscovered role of women during the Great Hunger’, hopes to receive contributions covering all sides of the debate regarding the written record of women in Ireland’s great Famine tragedy.

For general information or to submit papers visit