Engendering the human geographies of Ireland - A thematic section


  • Caitríona Ní Laoire NUI Maynooth
  • Denis Linehan University College Cork




First Page Preview

The papers presented in this thematic section are all concerned with questions of gender and sexuality- concerns that over the last three decades have challenged and enriched the practice not only of the discipline of geography, but all of the social sciences and the humanities. Since the middle of the 1970s, feminist geography has had a significant influence on the discipline internationally, opened up new avenues of research and presented critical opportunities to engage with social issues and questions of equality (McDowell, 1999; Oberhauser et ah, 2000). It is arguable that Irish society has always provided productive ground for working through such questions of gender and sexuality. It has not been until comparatively recently, however, that such issues around gender have been consistently examined. Ireland has characteristically been regarded by social scientists as a patriarchal society- a situation that historically was sustained by the apparatus of Church and State, the nature of the labour market and the social and cultural construction of heterosexuality (Mahon, 1994; O'Connor, 1998). Increasingly, these structures have come under sustained critical attention. The emergence of a number of Women's Studies programmes in Irish universities, the establishment of the Irish Journal of Feminist Studies, and the strengthening of bodies such as the National Women's Council to represent women at national level, all illustrate the challenge to patriarchy in academic and public life. Mapping women's experiences in Irish social, political and cultural life has involved the steady accruing of perspectives from a diverse range of disciplines and has brought into visibility the conditions under which gender has acted as a significant axis of difference and social power in Ireland (see Hussey, 1993; Byrne, Byrne and Lyons, 1996; O'Connor, 1998). However, true equality between the sexes remains not only illusive, but unachieved. In one instance, for example, as O'Connor has noted, "...today in Ireland men make up approximately 95 percent of those in senior positions in the civil service, the local authorities, the health boards, etc. Culturally and structurally, there is the deeply embedded idea that women are not suited to authority" (O'Connor, 1998:8).

Author Biographies

Caitríona Ní Laoire, NUI Maynooth

National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis

Denis Linehan, University College Cork

Department of Geography



How to Cite

Ní Laoire, C., & Linehan, D. (2014). Engendering the human geographies of Ireland - A thematic section. Irish Geography, 35(1), 1–5. https://doi.org/10.55650/igj.2002.242