There are, in my own mind, few journals as important as Saothar, from the Irish Labour History Society. It is dedicated to the study of Irish working class history, looking not only to the role of the working class in revolutionary periods but also the evolving everyday lives of Irish workers. The society was founded in 1973, and the first Saothar published two years later.
The latest issue, 36, is hugely important. It focuses on the history of working class women.
Among its contents one finds articles such as:
‘The Irish women worker and the Conditions of Employment Act 1936: Responses from the women senators.
‘Second class citizens who are being subsidised by the men….’: Women in the Irish Transport and General Workers’ and Workers’ Union of Ireland 1945-1960
‘Sighle Humphyreys: A case study in Irish socialist feminism, 1920s-1930s’
Remarkably, along with the emphasis on female subjects, many of the historians contributing to this issue of Saothar are themselves female, something which is of course to be welcomed.
Recently, the Women’s History Association of Ireland invited four distinguished voices in Irish history to discuss four leading female historians. Remarkably, the four professors invited to contribute on the day were all men, greatly influenced by the female historians discussed. They were:
Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, UCD, on Margaret MacCurtain
Professor Thomas Bartlett, University of Aberdeen, on Helen Landreth
Professor Tom Dunne, UCC, on Maureen Wall
Professor Eunan O’Halpin, TCD, on Dorothy Macardle
The recent focus on women’s history and the role of women in not only making history but writing it is certainly something to be welcomed. Saothar can be obtained by joining the Irish Labour History Society, with membership priced at €30 annually or €20 concession rate. The society are online here.