This collection includes 42 oral history interviews focused on the working lives of women (1930-1960) living in three counties of Ireland (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 Irish Women at Work Oral History project was part of an interdisciplinary research initiative entitled 'Women and Irish Society: Understanding the Past and Present Through Archives and Social Research'. The Women and Irish Society initiative was funded under the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI 1) and represented a collaborative venture between staff from the Departments of Applied Social Studies, English and Sociology in University College Cork. Launched in February 2000, the initiative sought to illuminate the transformation of women's lives in Irish society over time and place, through sociological, literary and applied social research.
The oral history strand of the project documents the working lives of women in the Munster counties of Cork, Kerry and Limerick, during the period 1936-1960. It provides a rich repository of data about women’s experiences of work, family life and schooling, and their impressions of change in women's lives in Ireland.
The other two strands of the Women and Irish Society project were:
1) Women and Literature, with project leaders Dr. Pat Coughlan and Dr. Eibhear Walshe and project researcher Dr. Tina O'Toole. They compiled a detailed scholarly bibliography of Munster women writers from 1800 onwards with a view to exploring the role of regional, class and gender factors in the formation and literary achievement of key writers.
2) Feminism and the Women's Movement, with project leader Dr. Linda Connolly and project researcher Dr. Tina O'Toole. They identified archives and sources documenting aspects of the political, social and intellectual development of feminism and the women's movement in the Irish context. The material was published as a documentary chronicle and a sociological analysis of feminist politics and the women's movement.
Ethical use of the Irish Women at Work Oral History Project collection
Contributors to this on-line collection gave permission to publish their narratives on the web, mostly in their own names. They consented to being represented on the internet as part of this collection, in some cases only after specified edits had been made. The Research Directors hold copyright to these recordings. Although the recordings and accompanying materials are posted here, this does not make them public domain documents. Please consult the license statement attached to each item and, if in doubt, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
There are ethical concerns about use of this material that the research team have considered when establishing access provisions. As curators of this collection, they think it is important that users of the recordings consider the context of each statement and respect the speaker's integrity in any public representation based on the recordings. They ask that researchers approach the material with respect for, and awareness of the women, whose lives, ideas, and experiences are represented in this collection.
An archived version of the original project website is available from: http://www.ucc.ie/archive/OralHistoryProject/
The following publications have been generated from this archive of material:
Kiely E. & Leane, M. (2014) Pre-Baby Boom Women’s Attitudes and Responses to Second Wave Feminism in Ireland’ Women’s Studies International Forum. Vol.44, May –June, 172-183.
Kiely, E. & Leane, M. (2012) Irish Women at Work 1930–1960: An Oral History. Irish Academic Press, Dublin/Portland.
Kiely, E., & Leane, M. (2008) ‘Money Matters in the Lives of Working Women in the 1940s and 1950s’ in F. Devine, F. Lane & N. Puirseil (Eds) Essays in Irish Labour History. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, pp.219-237.
Kiely, E. & Leane, M., (2004) ‘Women Domestic and Farm Workers in Munster 1936-1960: Insights from Oral History’ Saothar Journal of Irish Labour History. No. 29, pp. 57-65.
Kiely, E. & Leane, M., (2004) ‘What Would I Be Doing At Home All Day?’ Oral Narratives of Irish Married Women’s Working Lives, 1936-1960’ Women’s History Review. Vol.13, No.3, pp.427-445.
Kiely, E., Elders, M., Leane, M., O’ Driscoll, C., (2002) ‘“A Union in Those Days Was Husband & Wife”: Women’s Narratives on Trade Unions in Munster, 1936-1960’ Saothar Journal of Irish Labour History .No. 27, pp.121-130.