Historical spotlight on Irish women activists

A new series, focusing on Irish women activists is being launched by the Woodfield Press in Dublin. Series editor Ruth Taillon explains the thinking behind the initiative

THE REASONING behind the Activist to Activist publishing project is perhaps most usefully summed up by Woodfield Press publisher, Terri McDonnell: "The purpose of the series is to highlight the lives of women who have made a significant contribution to public life -- through their involvement in campaigns for social reforms, as trade unionists, politicians or community activists.

"It will appeal to readers with a general interest in Irish social history or politics as well as students in women's studies programmes, and of course, to feminists and women activists in Ireland and abroad. While the books will conform to academic standards, they will be written with a non-academic audience in mind."

Yet, the intention is to make it much more than just a collection of straightforward biographies.

"What makes this series different is that the books will be written by women who are themselves currently or formerly involved in Irish public life -- or Irish women in public life abroad -- within the fields of community or electoral politics, the trade union movement, the women's movement, or campaigning on social issues such as educational or health reforms, human rights or civil liberties," explains Terri McDonnell.

Each author will be asked to introduce her book with a personalised, reflective account of why she has chosen to write about her subject, the relevance of the life of the subject to her own life and the subject's relevance to current Irish social and/or political life.

While the biographical studies will be relatively short, it is intended that they should provide previously unknown or little-known information, or explore elements of their subject's public life from new angles.

There is a growing interest in women's history as well as increased recognition that women have played, and continue to play, an important part in the shaping of modern societies. This series will not only help to fill some of the gaps in our understanding of Irish women's contribution to national and international development, but will, we hope, help to inspire a new generation of women to engage in social and political activism and public life.

It is planned to publish up to six books in the Activist to Activist series over the next three years, commencing with Marie Mulholland's study, The Politics and Relationships of Dr Kathleen Lynn.

Kathleen Lynn is best known for her pioneering medical practices and her transformation of healthcare services to children and the poor. However, it is the woman, the social activist, the suffragist and the militant republican who emerged from the unlikely origins of a comfortable, unionist family in Co. Mayo to storm Dublin City Hall in 1916 as a lieutenant in Connolly's Irish Citizen Army who takes centre stage in this volume.

A woman who lived what she believed, Lynn intrigues and resonates half a century after her death supplying inspiration and frustration in equal measure to those of us in Ireland still hungry for change.

Author Marie Mulholland has been involved for over twenty years in developing and devising strategies to undo patriarchy, the Treaty of 1921 and elements of the 1937 Irish constitution. Woodfield is committed to nourishing the growing interest in womens' history and in furthering awareness of the part played by women in the shaping of modern societies insists Terri McDonnell.

"The Activist to Activist series, together with the recently published Female Activists 1900-1960 and a new feminist-focused series under the general editorship of Mary Cullen, to be announced next year, is evidence of that commitment," she said.

Ruth Taillon, is a socialist feminist who has campaigned for political, economic and social justice and women's rights for more than 30 years. Originally from Canada, she has lived in Ireland since 1980 and is currently based in Belfast. Ruth Taillon can be contacted at: ruthtaillon@utvinternet.com

The Woodfield Press, can be contacted at: 17 Jamestown Square, Inchicore, Dublin 8. Tel: (00 3531) 602 4810 (day), (00 3531) 454 7991 (evening); www.woodfield-press.com

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This document was last modified by David Granville on 2002-10-03 16:02:56.
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