Dr. Sonja Tiernan: Irish Women’s Speeches: Voices That Rocked the System

Celebrate Women’s History Month with us as Dr. Sonja Tiernan discusses her new book, which showcases 33 inspiring speeches by women of Ireland from the nineteenth century to the present — recounting the stirring contributions that Irish women have made both to modern Irish society and to global development. The speeches include rallying cries for trade union action, denunciations of apartheid, and calls for independence, unionism, peace, and gender equality. Each speech includes a detailed introduction explaining the context, importance, and impact of the speech as well as the biographical background of the orator. Taken together, the book is a record of women who, as Mary Robinson noted in her presidential acceptance speech, “instead of rocking the cradle, rocked the system." Featuring speeches from Anna Parnell, Betty Williams, Margaret Hinchey and Catherine Connolly, this book encompasses all of modern Irish history, as the women assessed situations from a different perspective, often considering the implications for the most vulnerable in society.

Dr. Sonja Tiernan is the Eamon Cleary Chair of Irish Studies and co-director of the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Otago, New Zealand. Originally from Dublin, Professor Tiernan completed her PhD at University College Dublin. She received a National Endowment for the Humanities-Keough Fellowship in the 2010-2011 academic year. During that fellowship, Dr. Tiernan completed researching and writing Eva Gore-Booth: An Image of Such Politics, the first dedicated biography of the Irish poet and radical social reformer, which was published by Manchester University Press in 2012.