Single Women in the 1960s

Cinemas are currently showing the trailer for Bridget Jones’s Baby, the third instalment in the franchise which will be released later this year. Renée Zellweger has reprised the role of Bridget Jones, the woman who popularised the term ‘singleton’. Before I read Helen Fielding’s novels, I can’t honestly say that I’d previously heard the term ‘singleton’.Continue reading “Single Women in the 1960s”

Modern Wife, Modern Life Exhibition One Year On

Just over one year ago, Modern Wife, Modern Life: an Exhibition of Women’s Magazines from 1960s Ireland opened at the National Print Museum in Dublin (1 July – 30 August 2015). Since then, it has gone on to visit dlr LexIcon in Dún Laoghaire, Wexford Town Library, and Westport Library in Mayo. Leaving Ireland this summer, theContinue reading “Modern Wife, Modern Life Exhibition One Year On”

The Dangers of Washing Machines

There’s a lot of waiting around during the blessings of the graves, especially in cemeteries like St Colmcille’s in Swords, North County Dublin. My mum’s family are buried in the older part of the cemetery, towards the back, and as the blessings start in the newer section, it always takes a while for the priestsContinue reading “The Dangers of Washing Machines”

Pushing the Boundaries: Sex Advice in Women’s Magazines, 1960s Ireland

Manuals on how to be a good wife were widely available in Ireland at the start of the twentieth century. Publications such as The Young Wife (1938 edition), provided women with practical advice on such matters as housekeeping and budgeting, or emotional guidance on understanding and caring for her husband. They did not, however, generally offer adviceContinue reading “Pushing the Boundaries: Sex Advice in Women’s Magazines, 1960s Ireland”

What Makes a Good Wife?

I was back in the National Library of Ireland today to continue reading copies of Woman’s Way from the 1960s. I’ve been exploring back issues of the magazine for what they can reveal about how women were represented and perceived. Yesterday, I wrote about the arrival of the fridge and the contribution it made to the housewife’s day-to-dayContinue reading “What Makes a Good Wife?”

Refrigerators: The New Approach to Home Life

If there’s one comment guaranteed to provoke a reaction in my classroom, it’s my suggestion that the arrival of the washing machine had a greater impact on the lives of women than the vote. It’s a remark that is usually met with shocked looks. I’m not downplaying the importance of the vote, but, as IContinue reading “Refrigerators: The New Approach to Home Life”

Virginity, Chastity and Purity: Defining Women Past and Present

I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘unmarried mothers’* recently: I gave a paper on perceptions of these women in Ireland in the second half of the twentieth century to the University of Hertfordshire’s History Lab, and I’m currently reviewing Pat Thane’s and Tanya Evans’s Sinners? Scroungers? Saints? Unmarried Motherhood in Twentieth Century England. Virginity, chastity, purityContinue reading “Virginity, Chastity and Purity: Defining Women Past and Present”

From the Letters Page: The Values of Ordinary Irish Women

In her Cottage to Creche, Finola Kennedy refers to a survey carried out between 1984-85 that found very few housewives had identified with the Women’s Movement of the 1970s.  Because women’s issues feature quite prominently in parts of my new book, when I was writing A Just Society for Ireland? 1964-87, I wanted to gauge the reaction of ordinary, non-politicisedContinue reading “From the Letters Page: The Values of Ordinary Irish Women”