Mná na hÉireann PART 2 Survival & Celebration In 19th Century Irish Art & Poetry & Song
An 11th Century view of place and condition of a woman in IRELAND. By anonymous Irish poet. Mé Éba ben Ádaim uill I am Eve, great Adam's wife….>
EVE'S LAMENTMé Éba ben Ádaim uill;(Anonymous. Irish poet - 11th century) I am Eve, great Adam's wife, 'Tis I that outraged Jesus of old; 'Tis I that stole Heaven from my children; by rights 'tis I that should have gone upon the Tree. I had a kingly house at my command; Grievous the evil choice that disgraced me; Grievous the chastisement of crime that has withered me! Alas! my hand is not clean. Lucas Cranach (Northern Renaissance Painter) 1472-1553
'Tis I that plucked the apple; it overcame the control of my greed; for that, women will not cease from folly as long as they live in the light of day. Downfall of Adam & Eve -Michelangelo-Sistine Chapel-1509 There would be no ice in any place; There would be no glistening windy winter; There would be no hell, there would be no sorrow, There would be no fear, were it not for me. [Anonymous. Irish poet -11th century]
Women lose rights under Elizabeth I The conquests and plantations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries transformed the political, social and economic structure of Irish society. From the time of conquest by Elizabeth I until the great famine of the 1840s, there are three statements to be made about the role of women in Irish society: Women were totally without formal political rights. Their property and inheritance rights both within and c. 1600 outside of marriage were now governed by English common law—not the Gaelic Irish law. Property was in hands of the husband and the men. Women lost inheritance rights enjoyed under Gaelic law and practice. The role of women was a subject and subsidiary role to the male, and it was performed largely within a domestic context: primary role was as wives and mothers.
Molly Macree 1860 The common image of idealized woman is represented in this poem by Aodhagán Ó Rathaille (Co Kerry d. 1762). “She will be weak, depressed and lifeless until her deliverer returns.” Irish woman is passive, dulcet, golden-haired Spéirbhean(a heavenly woman or a comely maiden; pronounced ‘spare van’. Thomas Alfred Jones, National Gallery of Ireland
‘Women and the Law in Ireland’ Mary Robinson [President 1990-1997] in Women’s Studies International Forum 1988 • “At beginning of 19th century, when Britain and Ireland were joined - Act of Union : • Women had virtually no rights at all • Chattels of their fathers and subsequently of their husbands • Could not vote-not sign contracts - if married, could not own property • No rights over their children • No control over their own bodies • Husbands could rape and beat them without any interference from the law.” - M. Robinson ‘Ach, if only they'd stayed so nice und backwards.’ - Women in County Galway, - 1955 Der Spiegel • In 1985 Ireland ratified UN convention For Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women[an international Bill of Rights for Women] • Ireland had to implement a series of European Community directives ensuring equality in work force & in social welfare. • 170 nations ratified treaty; United States signed it Sept. 1980 but has not ratified the treaty nor hasAfghanistan and Sao Tome & Principe (Africa).
Neither praise nor dispraise your wife before strangers. Reprove your wife as you would your son or your friend. Do not give your wife authority over you, for if you let her stamp on your foot to-night she will stamp on your head tomorrow. Be wary of the food which a jealous woman offers you. BidhCrínna– BE WISE Irish Proverbs – Sage advice for husbandsin the Middle Ages IRISH couple – Middle Ages
By Nathaniel Grogan 1800 Cork butchers celebrated coming of Easter with Mock funeral of a herring – last day of Lent-symbolized abstinence. On reaching River Lee, remnants of the herring were flung into river. Then a quarter lamb is tied to a lath—ina street parade with musicians, revelers & mischief makers. Whipping the Herring out of Town – scene of Cork, 1800
Snap-Apple Night 1833 (Halloween in Blarney) Daniel Maclise
Snap-Apple Night, painted by Irish artist Daniel Maclise in 1833. It was inspired by a Halloween party Maclise attended in Blarney, Ireland, in 1832. There Peggy was dancing with DanWhile Maureen the lead was melting,To prove how their fortunes ranWith the Cards could Nancy dealt in;There was Kate, and her sweet-heart Will,In nuts their true-love burning,And poor Norah, though smiling stillShe'd missed the snap-apple turning.
Snap-Apple Night 1833 (Halloween in Blarney) Daniel Maclise
IRISH Women at Work Early Irish Culture Noblewomen, while denied full legal capacity, had limited rights of contract, inheritance, and alienation of land. If divorced, women retained their own property. Lower class women had few or no rights of equality. In later centuries (17th century) women in middle and upper classes were more involved in public and philanthropic works: founded hospitals, schools, institutions for poor, ‘ladies’ associations for ministering relief and raising charity funds. The life-cycle of women outside the upper classes consisted of living in mud cabins; basic domestic chores remained the principal occupation of women along with weaving [cottage industries] and assisting husbands’ work. Employment of household servants in the Big Houses of the Irish countryside increased in the 17th century. Aran Islands – At Work
IRISH WOMEN AT WORK 14th Century Account Roll of the Priory of the Holy Trinity, Dublin Records show women: • Earning wages as a housemaid and a washerwoman • Baking bread and brewing beer on a commercial scale • Working with the reapers at harvest-time binding sheaves • Helping on a building site carrying water to mix mud • Drawing straw for thatchers. Weaving, An Spideal, Galway, 31 May 1913 Not unlike women in Medieval Ireland
Connemara woman spinning Another lady stands at the cottage door knitting and in the foreground are some hens and a wash tub. Photo in the Library of Congress.
Irish Cabin Interior 1840sFrederick Goodall Cabin almost completely lacks furniture or furnishings--but despite the stoney poverty, artist incorporates romance with young woman, who is knitting as her young music suitor looks on. Woman chaperone by hearth. The artist explains how he persuaded people “to sit constantly (for his paintings)– – and they seemed pleased to do so. This I managed with help of a shilling and the persuasive tongue of the worthy old woman who was our cook at our lodging.”
“Taken on the spot in the County of Downe, Representing Spinning, Reeling with the Clock reel, and Boiling the Yarn’. One of a set of twelve engravings by Irish artist William Hincks - 1782 “A rare artifact: these engravings acknowledged the work of women.”--Fintan O’Toole, IRISH TIMES The work was hard, but the relative prosperity of the cottage depicted in the engraving hints at the enormous impact the linen trade had on Irish standards of living in the eighteenth century. Irish people had been growing flax and making linen since the Bronze Age. With Ireland largely colonized by British in the early-eighteenth century, the authorities promoted the development of linen as the primary Irish industry.
Increasingly as the eighteenth century wore on the manufacture of cloth or embroidery was for sale, and its returns were necessary to meet inflated rent demands of the landlords.The entire family was involved in the process. Women spun the flax into yarn FLAX TO FABRIC: Woman’s labor critical to survival in Ireland. • The grasping landlord never minded waiting a month or two for the rent from his Irish tenants: • “Until the cow is sold at the fair, or the piece that's in the loom” • --Satire by RiocardBairéad, a famous poet from Belmullet, Co Mayo, d. 1819 18th-century cottage scene in Ulster’s domestic linen industry before industrialisation. -Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum, Northern Ireland
A Spinning Lesson, 1874George Washington Brownlow Young girl being taught by her mother to do the laborious job of spinning wool with primitive type of big wheel, typical of the west. Artist was concerned with child labour—he highlights extreme poverty and starvation during recurrent periods of crop failure after the Famine. “In all farmhouses the dresser was covered…with noggins, and with pails, all wood hooped, and kept as white as snow – while tubs and casks … were in abundance.” -- An 1877 Writer.
Interior, with Woman Spinning – study from nature, south of Ireland, near Inchigeela, Co Cork 1876. James Brenan The artist informs viewer: such work is so poorly paid that the woman is in lonely isolation with nothing to show for it in the way of possessions. ‘It was skillful work because only one hand does all the joining and teasing—and exhausting because it required so much striding to and from (a ‘walking wheel’), up to 30 miles in a week’s spinning.’
Committee of Inspection (weaving, County Cork) 1877 – James Brenan Buyers from a city department store inspect a piece of homespun cloth. Gloomy expressions on face of women tell story: hand-woven cloth produced on cottage loom could not compete with cheap English factory cottons being imported into Ireland in great quantities.