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Episode 4 -'Gender and partition: ‘it’s a queer sort of existence this’'

The Partition of Ireland talks programme in partnership with BBC Logo
Professor Diane Urquhart
Queen's University Belfast
Date: 17/05/2021
Talk 4

Gender and partition: ‘it’s a queer sort of existence this’

This talk considers gendered reactions to the partition of Ireland on both sides of the border. The nature of the Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State are also assessed from a gender perspective; both embraced social conservatism and used gender constructs to shore up their ideas of identity from the time of their foundations in the early 1920s. 

A gendered approach to the partition of Ireland is therefore replete with raw emotion – loss, betrayal, fear, anger, trauma and grief - and in the post-partition treatment often afforded to women, it reveals a history that often unites more than it divides those who were placed on both sides of the Irish border.


About Professor Diane Urquhart

Diane Urquhart is Professor of Gender History in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics (HAPP) of Queen's University Belfast and President of the Women's History Association of Ireland (WHAI). The former chair of modern history in the Institute of Irish Studies of the University of Liverpool, Diane is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.  She has published extensively on Irish women's history, gender and politics including Irish Divorce: A history (2020), The Ladies of Londonderry: women and political patronage (2008), Women in Ulster Politics, 1890-1940 (2000), five edited/co-edited international collections as well as the co-authored Irish Abortion Journey, 1920-2018 with Lindsey Earner-Byrne (2019). Diane is currently working on the first full-length history of the criminal conversation legal suit. 

Further Reading
  • Linda Connolly (ed.), Women and the Irish Revolution (Irish Academic Press, Dublin, 2020). 
  • Lindsey Earner-Byrne and Diane Urquhart, The Irish Abortion Journey, 1920-2018 (Palgrave Pivot, London, 2019). 
  • Diarmaid Ferriter, A nation and not a rabble. The Irish revolution, 1913-1923 (Profile, London, 2015) 
  • Michael Laffan, The partition of Ireland, 1911-1925 (Dundalgen Press, Dundalk, 1983). 
  • Pearse Lalor, The burnings 1920 (Mercier Press, Cork, 2005). 
  • Robert Lynch, The partition of Ireland, 1918-25 (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2019). 
  • Ann Matthews, Renegades. Irish republican women, 1900-1923 (Mercier Press, Cork, 2010). 
  • Cormac Moore, Birth of the border. The impact of partition in Ireland (Merrion Press, Newbridge, 2019).  
  • Diane Urquhart, Women in Ulster politics, 1890-1940: a history not yet told (Irish Academic Press, Dublin, 2000).