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Historical Donegal Women

the power of positive thinking (2)

In this Women’s Lives Women’s Voices feature Historian Dr Angela Byrne from Donegal highlights the historical struggles faced by women here in Ireland. And she pays tribute to Rose Brogan, Ethna Carbery, Máire de Paor, Maureen Wall, née MacGeehin, Kathleen ‘Kay’ McNulty and Margaret ‘Pearl’ Dunlevy, inspiring historical women with Donegal connections. 

 


By Angela Byrne

This is a good time to reflect on women in Irish society in the past and in the present. The ‘Decade of Centenaries’ and its commemorations gave the people of Ireland an opportunity to re-examine the keystone moments in our national story. Remarkable figures emerged from the shadows as we heard new stories about the women and children of the 1913 Lockout and the Easter Rising. The volunteer-run Her story Project established a series of local and national events to provide a platform for telling Irish women’s stories. One of the great successes of the recent commemorations was the naming of Dublin’s newest bridge after the republican and labour activist, Rosie Hackett. This is the first of our capital’s twenty-one bridges to bear a woman’s name.


 

0194400c0c609b470d95a4db3335e62dIn 2018, we celebrated the centenary of what Catriona Crowe has called “the single greatest human rights achievement of the entire decade of centenaries” – the extension of voting rights to women on 6 February 1918. The Representation of the People Act enfranchised some 8.4 million women across Britain and Ireland – but only property-holders aged 30 and above. In 1922, the constitution of the Irish Free State extended the franchise to all Irish women and men aged 21 and over, but for a period of four years, younger and poorer women remained voiceless.

Women’s suffrage was won after decades of effort by campaigners like Anna and Thomas Haslam of the Women’s Suffrage Association, and the more “militant” Irish Women’s Franchise League (IWFL) established by Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington and Margaret Cousins. The IWFL brought much more public attention to the women’s movement because they refused to be confined by social expectations of women’s behaviour. Tactics ranged from petitioning to window smashing. In 1909, English suffragettes in became the first to use hunger striking as a form of protest, leading to the infamous ‘Cat and Mouse Act’ of 1913, which allowed the temporary release and recapture of hunger strikers in response to public objections to force-feeding. In 1912, the Irish Women’s Franchise League established its own weekly newspaper, The Irish Citizen, which ran until 1920. In its pages, suffragists of all political shades debated their differing interpretations of feminism.

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There was a rapid growth of women’s suffrage groups throughout Ireland. In Sligo Eva and Constance Gore Booth set up a branch of the IWSGLA. By 1914 there were 26 suffrage societies with almost 3,000 members. Although committed to the same aim, these societies often represented distinct social and political groups e.g. the Conservative and Unionist Women’s Franchise Association, Irish Catholic Women’s Suffrage Society, Unionist Women’s Franchise Association. The activities of these societies were uncoordinated. In 1911 Louie Bennett (1870 -1956) and Helen Chenevix (1880-1963) helped establish the Irish Women’s Suffrage Federation (IWSF) to link the suffrage groups together. The IWSF was non-militant and non-sectarian.


On 21 November 1918, the UK parliament voted in the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act. The act simply stated: “A woman shall not be disqualified by sex or marriage for being elected to or sitting or voting as a Member of the Commons House of Parliament.” Women aged over 21 now had the right to stand for general election. Just weeks later, on 14 December 1918, Constance Markievicz became the first woman to win a seat at Westminster. She abstained in favour of sitting in the First Dáil.

 

In her celebrated 1995 book The Prospect Before Her, the historian Olwen Hufton wrote that women’s absence from history pointed to “either a grave sin of omission or to a flagrant suppression of the evidence, and hence to a distortion of the record by historians of former times. Whether the omission was unconscious or deliberate, the result was the same: women, with a few notable exceptions, had been denied a history.” Let’s celebrate our suffrage centenary by continuing to challenge that denial, to give silenced women a voice.

 


Discover some of Donegal’s Historical Women

 

Please take the time to read further features written by Angela and discover more about Donegal’s inspiring historical women by clicking on the pictures below.


“I hope that these features will raise awareness of the richness of the lives of Donegal women in the past, shine a light on their achievements, and show how they overcame barriers to education and other obstacles. Reflecting on past lives can help us to contextualise current issues and to understand changes and continuities. With that in mind, this series will focus on past women’s struggles for equality, access to education and work, and social justice.”

Dr Angela Byrne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


About Dr Angela Byrne

Dr. Angela ByrneAngela Byrne is a historian specialising in migration and women’s history. She is Research Associate at Ulster University and, in 2018-19, was the inaugural DFAT Historian-in-Residence at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. She is author of Geographies of the Romantic North (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), A Scientific, Antiquarian and Picturesque Tour: John (Fiott) Lee in Ireland, England and Wales, 1806–1807 (Routledge for Hakluyt Society, 2018), and many articles and book chapters on the histories of travel and exploration, the Irish abroad, and women in the sciences.

She has previously held lecturing and research positions in University of Toronto, University of Greenwich, Maynooth University, and the Royal Irish Academy, as well as visiting fellowships at Cambridge University, the All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature (Moscow), and the Huntington Library (Los Angeles). Her research is concerned with cross-cultural encounters and the experiences of women and migrants in the past.

 


NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network have had the privilege of Angela giving insight into the lives of historical  Donegal women over the past few years at past events, including most recently our 2019 Balance for Better International Women’s Day Event in March, where Angela gave a talk on the political life of Letterkenny local Kate McCarry, Donegal’s first ever elected female county councillor.

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NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network have had the privilege of Angela giving insight into the lives of historical  Donegal women over the past few, including most recently our 2019 Balance for Better International Women’s Day Event in March, where Angela gave a talk on the political life of Letterkenny local Kate McCarry Donegal’s first ever elected female county councillor.


NCCWN Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series, so please get in touch if you would like to write a feature.

Let’s Talk About Fertility

Roses and Rainbows

New Donegal group raising awareness about the importance of providing local support for people facing fertility challenges.

This month a new Facebook group was created entitled “Roses and Rainbows” it started with a post about one Donegal couples experience of going through IVF and their recent loss through miscarriage. As part of this month’s Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices, the founder of the group shares her voice and lived experience around the issue of fertility.

 


Myself and my partner have been trying to conceive for the past three and a half years, we went through a number of tests which resulted in us being referred for In vitro fertilisation (IVF) in the form of ICSI, which we have been doing for the past few years.

 

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This month on the 6th August 2019, after our second frozen embryo transfer, we suffered a miscarriage. Our heartbreak and loss moved us to tell our story and set up the group “Rose’s and Rainbows” both as a way of helping us heal and deal with what we have been through but to also help others who may be going through similar fertility challenges and experiences.

 

The issue of infertility is still a very sensitive subject and I believe we are very under educated as a society about how to deal with fertility issues and miscarriage, it is still very much the elephant in the room. We need to change this.

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The Rose’s and Rainbows name came about as we both have a love of Rose’s and I guess we are looking for the rainbow in our storm, as are many. The page itself is a personal blog of what we have been through so far and continue to deal with, this includes our highs and lows, the financial cost of IVF, the emotional side of infertility and the heart break of a miscarriage.

 

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Followers are free to message in privately with their stories if they feel they would like to share them with us, and if they would like we can publish them in the hope of helping others. (this of course would be done privately with no names attached to the stories).

Since setting up we have received offers by some amazing professions who will be writing blogs on fitness and health tailored towards fertility and during and after IVF and miscarriage.

Our experience over these past few years has highlighted that there is a lack of a local support network here in Letterkenny and Donegal on infertility, IVF journeys and miscarriage.

As Roses and Rainbows we are delighted to say we have now set up a monthly met-up, the first one on Sunday 25th August with a meditation session also taking place on Monday 7th October, 7-8.30pm. We believe in respecting the privacy of individuals who are going through this sensitive matter and recognise that some people would like to keep their private life’s private, as such all locations for these meetings will be given by private message)

Our motto is “you are not alone even if you decide to go through any of these journeys without telling your family or friends, because there is a local network of support in place to listen and help”.

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Supports Going Forward

We would love to see annual information events held here in the North West from the likes of the miscarriage association of Ireland etc. While it would also be amazing if a fertility clinic and counselling service that were linked were based here in the North West.

It is hugely important that the promised funding from government is soon put into places, because at the moment all couples receive is tax back. The financial struggles going through treatment is very stressful added on top of everything else.

 


A Human Rights Issue

The right to a family life is a Human Right, yet in Ireland the right to this basic human right comes at a high price if you are a person experiencing fertility issues.

The cost of fertility treatment is high, IVF treats cost from around €4,600 upwards and this does not include other related treatments and medical supports  involved in the process. People do not receive funding supports, their only opinions is to claim tax back. Which is the last thing the State should except a person/s going through this experience in the hope of building their family to have to do. In 2018 the government announced that €1m would go to IVF treatment for couples unable to conceive, yet a year on this funding has not been released.[1]

 


National Support Advise

For more information on IVF Treatments and the process please visit here. National support advise services can also be found with the following organisations

We thank the founder of the Roses and Rainbow group for sharing with us her story and ongoing journey. You can find and LIKE the group on Facebook here.

 

[1] Reported in the Irish Examiner, https://amp.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/concern-as-ivf-funding-still-not-in-place-922418.html


NCCWN Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series.

New Beginnings Course

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NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network in collaboration with Coiste Halla Naomh Bríde are delighted to be offering  ‘New Beginnings’. This 8 week course commencing in Halla Naomh Bríde, Lettermacaward will be facilitated by Emily Whelan, Leading Life Coach & Motivational Speaker.

The aim of this course is to support women in life-long learning opportunities. Promoting personal development, well-being and positive mental health.

Over the eight sessions participants will have the opportunity to;

  • Identify and explore their skills

  • Learn to own their own power

  • Develop their self-care

  • Explore personal development and create a personal action plan

  • Meet new people

And much more


Who is this course for?

  • Women who left the workforce and did not return, for example women who left to start a family

  • Women unemployed and seeking only part-time work

  • Women in unpaid work in the home

  • Women who are unemployed and not looking for immediate paid work, for example, someone full-time at home looking after a young family and/or other dependent

  • Women getting a disability payment


Here is a snippet of the great feedback the course has received from past participants to-date:

“ My mind- set has completely changed. I no longer focus on the negatives; I try to focus on the positives which is very motivating and energising.”

“ I feel grateful for the opportunity to be heard. I have a voice and what I say matters.”

“ I feel empowered to achieve anything.”


Venue: Halla Naomh Bríde, Lettermacaward, Co. Donegal

Dates:  Monday 23rd and 30th September, the 7th, 14th and 21st October and the 4th, 11th and 18th November 2019

Time: 10.00am-1.00pm

Cost: €25.00 (concessions are available, please contact us to find out more).

Tea and Coffee will also be provided during each session


If you are interested in participating in this programme please fill in this form and we will be in contact with you. For further information please contact NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network by email on donegalwomensnetwork@gmail.com or 074 9722790. Booking is essential, book early to avoid disappointment.

 

This course has been part funded by Donegal ETB under their Community Education Support Programme.

 

The Power of Positive Thinking Course

the power of positive thinking

NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network are pleased to be taking bookings for The Power of Positive Thinking course.

This is a 4 week course commencing in Ballyshannon in the Kilbarron Parish Centre on Thursday 3rd October 2019, 10am-1pm. The course will be facilitated by Emily Whelan, a Leading Life Coach & Motivational Speaker.

The aim of this course is to support women in learning how to grow and develop a more positive mind-set to support their emotional health and well-being.


Over the four sessions participants will learn how to;

• De-stress your body and mind
• Improve your emotional health and well-being
• Gain a better understanding of mindfulness
• Be more confident
• Think more positively


Who is this course for?

The course is open to all women from in and around the Ballyshannon and Bundoran area.

Venue: Kilbarron Parish Centre Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal
Dates: Thursday 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th October 2019
Time: 10.00am-1.00pm

Cost: There is a course participation fee of €15 (concessions are available, so please do contact us to find out more).


Tea and Coffee will also be provided during each session

If you are interested in participating in this course please fill in this form here and we will be in contact with you.

For further information please contact NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network by email on donegalwomensnetwork@gmail.com or 074 9722790.

Booking is essential, book early to avoid disappointment.

 

This course has been part funded by Donegal ETB under their Community Education Support Programme.

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