The Women in Irish Society Project (WISP) was one of the first Humanities projects with a significant digital element to be undertaken in Ireland but there remains little trace of it in the digital realm today. Led by Patricia Coughlan, professor of English in UCC at the time, it was awarded three-year PRTLI-1 funding in 1999 and was a multi-disciplinary project which took a collaborative approach to research. WISP had three strands: Irish Women at Work (Digital Repository of Ireland, n.d.), an Oral History project; a critical analysis of feminism in Ireland, published as Documenting Irish Feminisms (Connolly and O’Toole, 2005); and the Munster Women Writers Project - a literature and bibliographic research project.
The first objective of the project was ‘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’ (Munster Women Writers Project, n.d.) It was primarily undertaken by Tina O’Toole, then based in the English Department of UCC and was a desk-based research project. The data gathering was extensive and involved multiple researchers, Irish and English language, across the three-year funding period. As outputs, the original MWW proposal was to produce a print book and a digital resource, in the form of a website, whereby researchers could access the data collected by the project team and use it as a basis for their own enquiry.
Another strand of the Women in Irish Society Project Irish Women at Work: An Oral History Project can now be accessed via the DRI website. The collection includes 42 oral history interviews focused on the working lives of Irish women between 1930 and 1960, living in three Munster counties - Cork, Kerry and Limerick. The women’s accounts are woven into the broader narratives of their lives extending from childhood to adulthood and old age. The collection includes audio and image files and is available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.
The third strand of WISP undertook a critical analysis of feminism in Ireland, taking as its starting point the archival materials from the Irish Women's Movement, held in the collections of UCC's Boole Library. The output of this research formed the basis of the book Documenting Irish Feminisms: The Second Wave, published in 2005 by Arlen House.