Project Background Page


Project Background Page


Text which appeared on the original website, giving details of the project background.




O'Toole, Tina


Munster Women Writers Project, University College Cork


Women in Irish Society Project, University College Cork




Munster, Ireland, 1800-2000






Website Screengrab


Munster Women Writers


O'Toole, Tina


Project Background

The Munster Women Writers Project is a bibliographical research project currently underway at University College Cork. It is part of an interdisciplinary, three-strand project on Women in Irish Society: Understanding the Past and Present Through Social Research and Archives, which was awarded a significant research grant by the Higher Education Authority under the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI 1) in 1999.

This project is based on a collaborative relationship between the Departments of English, Sociology, and Applied Social Studies. The three interactive research projects constituting the overall programme were launched on February 18th, 2000 and aim to develop UCC as an international centre for excellence in research into women in Irish society. The projects seek to illuminate the transformation of women's lives in Irish society over time and place, through literary, sociological and applied social research. The research programme has been developed in direct partnership with the Boole Library at UCC, which houses the Attic Press Archive containing key documents of the Irish Women's Movement. The research will underpin the development of an international centre for research into women and Irish society, with the findings disseminated through electronic media, a seminar series, international conferences and publications. In addition, the projects intend to hold interdisciplinary seminars which will involve other departments from the Arts and Humanities interested in the information the project is generating.

The other two strands of the project are: Documents of the Irish Women's Movement, based in the Sociology Department, which will provide a critical analysis of the development of feminism and the women's movement in Ireland, focusing on the archive of the Irish Women's Movement which is located at the Boole Library, NUI Cork. The members of this project are Linda Connolly and Tina O'Toole.

Women and Social Policy: An Oral History Project, based in the Department of Applied Social Studies, which has undertaken a feminist oral history project focusing on the areas of family, work and politics. Analysis will consider how mediating factors such as gender, class and region impact on women's diverse experiences of social policy interventions. The members of this project are Máire Leane, Elizabeth Kiely and Marian Elders.

The project as a whole, Women and Irish Society: Understanding the Past and Present through Social Research and Archives, aims to promote a much-needed cultural, social and political examination of women's lives in Ireland. Irish society has changed rapidly in recent years and is in a state of flux. Capturing diverse and interacting social, economic, cultural and political aspects of the transformation in Irish women's lives is a complex task. Some changes in the 1990s have been widely documented: rapid industrial development and the emergence of the Celtic Tiger; decline in institutional religion; increasing in-migration; a so-called cultural renaissance internationally; the expansion of the female work force; crisis in childcare provision; intensification of poverty in exceptionally marginalised groups; and fundamental transformation in family life. In particular, the changing political situation in Northern Ireland, since the Good Friday Agreement, poses an immense challenge to contemporary Irish society.

External institutional links or active research partnerships are currently in place with the University of Ottawa, Canada; the University of Ulster at Magee; NUI Maynooth; University College Dublin; NUI Galway; Cardiff University; Queen's University Belfast; Trinity College Dublin; the University of Staffordshire; University College Northampton; the University of Keele; the Department of Government and Society, University of Limerick; and the University of Burgos, Spain. The Women and Irish Society Project continues to network these parallel research associations and cognate projects both nationally and internationally. In addition, it is proposed to build on the strong foundation of this current project by actively supporting similar research on women's lives and encouraging further research in this field, at University College Cork.

Project Aims

The Munster Women Writers Project has the following main aims:

To make available the basic materials for biographical and literary research and analysis on the extensive number of women writers with Munster backgrounds or strong Munster connections.

To make this bibliography available in the form of a published dictionary of Munster Women Writers, and a website. Our objective is to make more information on these writers available for future literary historians, feminist critics, and social historians to develop knowledge and understanding of this material.

To create links between those of us working in this field in Ireland, and parallel projects abroad.

To help generate a body of serious and innovative critical analysis by researchers in the field at Cork and elsewhere. Such analysis will explore the role of regional, class and gender factors in the formation and literary achievement of writers, and will pay attention to the intersection of these factors in the nature of the work produced.

To examine the way these factors intersect, using both the intellectual methods of contemporary feminist enquiry and the investigations into expressions of regional identity. This aspect of the project, the question of regional identity, is especially innovative.

By the development and visibility of the project itself to help locate further manuscript materials, in the form of family papers and private letters and journals, which will add to the body of knowledge and information on the subject

To hold during the life span of the project, scholarly seminars which will encourage the sharing and dissemination of information, knowledge and critical thought about the field.