Two Irish Colleens talking after a hard day cutting peat and transporting it back to their humble cottage. Barefoot, wearing a cloak and clothes probably made out of ‘homespun’ cloth. Who knows what they were chatting about; definitely not if anyone in the future would remember them or write about them. But people did, do, and will do in the future. The history of Irish women is multi-faceted and fascinating; I only touch one area of Irish women’s history as an a historian but many touch on all aspects that have affected Irish women’s lives over the last few centuries.
Puppets from King Stag, 1918.
As mentioned in my last post I had the great opportunity to visit the Sophie Taeuber-Arp retrospective at the Tate Modern, London, in October 2021. Sophie Taeuber-Arp is like many women artists; an over-looked Modernist artist whose prolific output and truly multi-disciplinary. Taeuber-Arp worked in mediums as diverse as metal work and needlepoint to drawing and dance across a career that traversed the early part of the twentieth century.
The kitsch red text and bright turquoise background of the cover of Dear, Mrs Bird by A.J. Pearce piqued my interest from my local libraries ‘Recent Reads’ table. * The doubly beautiful end papers of a stylized bird holding an envelope in it’s beak drew me further in to read the first few pages** and instantly I knew that I would love reading this book as it covers several of my favourite historical topics at once; women’s magazines, women’s roles in World War Two and the struggle women faced to get themselves recognized in jobs in the early to mid-twentieth century.
Eva Chichester was a Sunday School teacher born and raised in Newcastle, County Down c.1872 and passed away c.1955. Her life spanned the end of the 19th century and saw the advances for women from the early 20th century to her death in 1955 aged 83. Eva was born into a well-to-do middle-class family and appears from photographs to be her parents only child. Although it is worthwhile noting that little is known about Eva’s life outside of her photographs, albums and travel journals that are now deposited in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). A systematic problem that is all to common with women’s history that scant details of their lives exist and we are left to pick up the pieces from what records do survive from their lives.
I have been obsessed with everything old from a young age. Some of my earliest memories are watching such classics as Gilda and How To Marry A Millionaire with my grandmother who grew up in the generation that those films were made in. My grandmother taught me how to pin-curl my hair, give myself a manicure with red nails, how to wear seamed stockings and most importantly for every vintage aficionado how to choose your colour of red lipstick and how to apply it properly.