Home / Decorative Arts & History / Deeds not Words? Assessing a Century of Change

Deeds not Words? Assessing a Century of Change


3rd November 2018

This conference brings together a range of academics, historians and writers to explore changes and advancements in Irish society, particularly for women over the last 100 years since 1918. This was a year that saw significant social change in Ireland, including the end of World War I, the passing of the Representation of People Act and the 1918 elections. The conference poses the question, what has changed for society, since 1918, for better and for worse?

Booking required. Tickets 20 euro or 15 euro at Eventbrite - http://bit.ly/DeedsnotWordsNMI


9.15 - 9.45am  Registration

9.45 - 10am  Welcome and Opening Words - Lynn Scarff, Director, National Museum of Ireland

10 - 11am  Panel  1 - WORDS

Chair: Professor Elizabeth Crooke, Ulster University

A Missing History? Tracing the Objects and Images of the Irish Women's Suffrage Campaign

Donna Gilligan

The Two Irelands, Fact not Fiction! Campaigns & Consequences in 1918

Dr. Elaine Callinan

The Cult of Collecting: Militaria and the Material Culture of the First World War in Ireland

Dr. Bernard Kelly


11-11.30am Tea & Coffee


11.30am - 12.30pm - Panel 2: BODIES

Chair: Dr Tina Kinsella, Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology

"For Pretty Girls there are Boyfriends" : Depictions of the Female Body in 1960s Women's Magazines

Dr. Ciara Meehan

Crisis, Commemoration and Dress: Designing Memory of the Revolutionary Period in Ireland

Miriam Phelan

All Changed, Changed Utterly? Fashioning the Body in Post-Independence Ireland

Conor Heffernan

1 - 2pm  Lunch

An opportunity to take a free tour of Bonnets, Bandoliers and Ballot Papers, a guided tour through some of the Museum’s exhibitions to explore how women’s roles changed in the first decades of the 20th century


2 - 2.15pm  Suffrage Songs – Performance with Justine Murphy


14:15 - 15:30  Panel 3: RIGHTS

Chair: Dr. Mary McAuliffe, University College Dublin

Deeds and Words: Representations of Irish Womanhood, Female Activism and the Irish Women’s Movement, 1922 to 1970

Dr. Caitríona Beaumont

St. Ultan’s: a Groundbreaking Institution for the Health and Well-being of Women, Children and Doctors Alike!

Maeve Casserly

Designing a Uniform for Women in the Irish Army: A Handbag to Carry your Gun

Bernice Harrison

Traveller Feminism

Rosaleen McDonagh

3.45 - 4.15pm  -  Closing remarks – Senator Ivana Bacik


Please note programme may be subject to change.


Speakers’ Biographies


Ivana Bacik is a barrister and Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College Dublin. She is a Senator for Dublin University (elected 2007, re-elected 2011 and again 2016). Her research interests include criminal law; criminology; feminist theory of law and equality law. She co-authored a major study on gender in the legal professions (Bacik, Costello and Drew, Gender InJustice, 2003), and her other publications include Legal Cases that Changed Ireland (co-edited with Mary Rogan, Clarus Press, 2016). She is Chairperson of the Oireachtas Vótáil 100 Committee organising a programme of events in 2018 to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage in Ireland.

Dr Caitríona Beaumont is Associate Professor in Social History at London South Bank University, UK and Director of Research for the School of Law and Social Sciences.  Her publications include numerous articles and chapters on twentieth century Irish and British women’s history focusing particularly on the history of female activism and the contribution of voluntary women’s organisations to the history of the women’s movement. Her most recent publications include Housewives and Citizens: Domesticity and the Women’s Movement in England, 1928-64 (Manchester University Press, 2015).

Dr Elaine Callinan completed her PhD on Electioneering and Propaganda in Ireland, 1917-1920 in Trinity College Dublin.  She currently lectures in modern Irish history in Carlow College, St. Patrick’s. Elaine’s main area of research is twentieth century Irish and British political, military and administrative history with a focus on nationalism, republicanism, loyalism and labour movements.  Her work to date has analysed electoral propaganda influences and placing these influences and experiences within the framework of wider global happenings.  She is particularly interested in the nature and impact of the political and military struggles from 1891 to 1923; and the legacy of politics and violence on Irish society.  

Maeve Casserly has been working in Education & Outreach in the National Library of Ireland since 2014, and has been a Historian-in-Residence with Dublin City Council since May 2017. She completed an MPhil in Public History and Cultural Heritage from Trinity College Dublin in 2014 and is currently researching the 2016 centenary commemorations of the Easter Rising and the Somme for a PhD in University College Dublin. Her most recent publications include Exhibiting Éire (Indiana University Press, Autumn 2018) and Public History, Invisibility and Women in the Republic of Ireland, (University of California Press, May 2017).

Elizabeth Crooke is Professor of Heritage and Museum Studies at Ulster University where she is Course Director of the MA Cultural Heritage & Museum Studies and MA Museum Practice & Management (distance learning). In 2018 she published Brexit and the Museum sector in Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland (with Gina O’Kelly IMA); Heritage after Conflict: Northern Ireland (co-ed, Routledge) and Giving Voice to Silences (open access: liminalities.net/14-3/voice.pdf). She is Chair of Board, Northern Ireland Museums Council and Co-Investigator with Living Legacies, First World War Engagement Centre. She is author of two books and has published in International Journal of Heritage StudiesMemory Studies, and Irish Political Studies.

Donna Gilligan is a museum archaeologist, material culture historian, and heritage educator who has worked in the Irish museum and heritage sector for the past thirteen years. She holds Masters degrees in Archaeology, Museum Practice and Management, and Design History and Material Culture. She focuses in work with historical and archaeological artefacts and museum collections, and specialises in the material and visual culture of the Irish women's suffrage movement. She is curator of the 2018 commemorative exhibition "Print, Protest, and The Polls: The Irish women’s suffrage campaign and the power of print media, 1908 – 1918", running at the National Print Museum. 

Bernice Harrison is a recent graduate of NCAD with an MA in Design History and Material Culture. She has a BA hons, UCD, in history. She is a staff journalist with The Irish Times where she writes a weekly design column as well as writing about design, craft, interiors and architecture. She is particularly interested in 20th century Irish design.

Conor Heffernan is a current PhD student at University College of Dublin funded by the Irish Research Council and Universities Ireland. Studying the role of physical culture in Ireland from 1890 to 1939, Conor’s work is deeply concerned with the importance of exercise and bodily expression in identity formation.

Dr Bernard Kelly received his PhD from NUI Galway in 2010 and was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies, University of Edinburgh, until 2013. He has since worked at the Irish Workhouse Centre and been the 1916 Researcher for Fingal County Council. He is currently one of the Dublin City Council Historians in Residence based at the Library and Archives in Pearse Street.

Dr. Tina Kinsella is a Lecturer in Critical and Contextual Studies (Art) in the Faculty of Film, Art and Creative Technologies (FACT), Programme Contributor to the MA in Art & Research Collaboration (ARC) in IADT and Research Fellow at the Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies, Trinity College Dublin. Her research institutes conversations between artistic practice and process, psychoanalysis, affect theory and gender theory to explore the intersections of subjectivity, aesthetics, ethics and politics. Funded by an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship, her Ph.D was completed at the National College of Art and Design and concerned the artistic practice and psychoanalytic theory of Bracha L. Ettinger.

Mary McAuliffe is an Assistant Professor in Gender Studies at UCD.  She holds a PhD from the School of History and Humanities, Trinity College Dublin and lectures on the UCD Gender Studies programmes at University College Dublin. Her latest publications were We were there; 77 women of the Easter Rising (co-written with Liz Gillis) and Kerry 1916; Histories and Legacies of the Easter Rising on which she was co-editor. She was also co-editor of Sexual Politics in Modern Ireland. She is past President of the Women’s History Association of Ireland (2011-2014) and a founding committee member of the Irish Association of Professional Historians. Her latest research includes a forthcoming biography of Margaret Skinnider (UCD Press, late 2018), and a major research project on gendered and sexual violence during the Irish revolutionary period, 1919-1923.

Rosaleen McDonagh, playwright, is a frequent contributor to RTÉ’s Sunday Miscellany and is also a columnist for the Irish Times. Rosaleen is a performer and member of Aosdána and is a board member of Pavee Point and Project Art Centre. Theatre work includes The Baby Doll Project, She’s Not Mine, and Rings. Mainstream’ was produced in 2017. In 2019 Rosaleen will adapt Colum McCann’s novel Zoli, a fictionalised narrative of Papusza, a Roma poet, for production with Fishamble Theatre Company. She has worked with Graeae Theatre Company and holds a BA, two MPhils from Trinity College Dublin.  Rosaleen is currently a PhD candidate in Northumbria University.  Rosaleen who has cerebral palsy, is a member of the Traveller Community.

Dr Ciara Meehan is Head of History and Reader in History at the University of Hertfordshire.  Her publications include The Cosgrave Party  (RIA, 2010),  A Just Society for Ireland? 1964-1987 (Palgrave, 2013) and Perceptions of Pregnancy from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century ​(Palgrave, 2017).  She is currently finishing a book on advice literature, women's magazines and everyday life in 1960s Ireland.

Justine Murphy is a singer who has always had a love of Irish history, and for the past few years she has been a singing tour guide in Dublin! She works with the Little Museum of Dublin, leading her own suffragette and singing walking tours and she is also a guide at the Pearse Lyons Distillery. As part of her MA at the National College of Art and Design she explored the connections between sound, folklore and fairytales. Having studied Irish traditional music at Ballyfermot College she worked as a community musician facilitating workshops with different groups.

Miriam Phelan is a PhD candidate in the School of Arts and Humanities at the Royal College of Art (RCA) and the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum. Miriam has a BA in Fashion Design from the National College of Art and Design and an MA in the History of Design from the RCA/V&A. She has worked on collecting, conserving and exhibiting men’s dress and fashion during her time at the Jewish Museum, before being awarded a TECHNE AHRC doctoral award to commence her PhD in 2017. Miriam’s doctoral research focuses on the commemoration of the Revolutionary Period and men’s dress in Ireland.

Image: Paper Bag c 1914 ©National Museum of Ireland


Conference organised by: 

Education & Outreach Department

National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History

Collins Barracks, Benburb Street, Dublin 7