Five Irish women

The second republic, 1960–2016

Emer Nolan
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This book is comprised of five interlinked portraits of exceptional Irish women from various fields – literature, journalism, music, politics – who have achieved outstanding reputations since the 1960s: Edna O’Brien, Sinéad O’Connor, Nuala O’Faolain, Bernadette McAliskey, and Anne Enright. Several of these could claim to be among the best-known Irish people of their day in the world. This book looks at their achievements – works of art in some cases, but also life-writing, interviews and speeches – and at their reception in Ireland and elsewhere, shedding light on some of their shared preoccupations, including equality, sexuality and nationalism. The main focus is on the ways in which these distinguished women make sense of their formative experiences as Irish people and how they in turn have been understood as representative modern figures in Ireland.

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‘Emer Nolan, author of the very useful Joyce and Nationalism, has chosen to reflect on five interesting Irishwomen who came to prominence in the second half of the 20th century. They are Edna O’Brien, Bernadette McAliskey, Nuala O’Faolain, Sinead O’Connor and Anne Enright … These choices represent women who made a considerable impact in their fields of literature, journalism, music and politics, and who exemplified different and evolving versions of feminism. None of them relied on a more famous male spouse or father and all of them achieved international as well as national recognition … Overall, this is a well-written, clever, very useful book which will add to our knowledge of later 20th-century feminism, politics, Irishness and its meanings, and the results of freedoms achieved and exploited by a cohort of outstanding Irish women.
The Irish Times
January 2020

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