The making of inequality

Women, power and gender ideology in the Irish Free State, 1922–37


Maryann Gialanella Valiulis

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ISBN: 978-1-84682-792-1
August 2019. 192pp.

"This detailed survey of inequality pulls no punches; it is a comprehensive exposition of the extreme patriarchal ideology of the Irish Free State. The book traces, in five largely chronological chapters, how this ideology became imbued in the Irish legislature, from the establishment of the state up to the ratification of the 1937 Constitution … Maryann Valiulis, a former director of the Centre for Gender and Women's Studies at Trinity College Dublin, has made a significant contribution to this aspect of Irish historiography ... This volume is certainly a definitive one; it is another key point of reference for any historian of modern Ireland. It establishes in no uncertain terms how the egalitarian ideals of the 1916 Proclamation were ultimately sacrificed for a patriarchal regime which owed much of its influence (and, indeed, support) to the Catholic Church, all in the name of stability and control." Deirdre Foley (Irish Literary Supplement. Fall 2020)

''The Making of Inequality' by Maryann Gialanella Valiulis details the chronological development of the Irish Free State and the ensuing issues surrounding women's equality ... Valiulis details how promises made in the 1916 Proclamation led women to believe they had earned the right to contribute as equal citizens in the foundation of the Irish Free State ... The book notes how this ideal of equality was far from the truth; the constitution limited a woman's place, and their right to employment outside the home ... The book also reflects on how the central role of the church in Irish society continued to ensure a woman's place was in the home, simultaneously holding her to a higher moral standard and excluding her from public life ... Valiulis engages artfully with historiography to show how the formerly liminal role of women was in fact a false depiction. She contrasts antiquated historiographical notions of 'hysterical women' with the primary source material which reveals the women who fought for their promised equality in a new state they had helped to construct ... this book was an enlightening read ... It illustrates the central role of women from 1916 to 1937 ... Valiulis also leaves the reader with some interesting afterthoughts concerning equality in modern Ireland.' Aisling Shalvey, Women's History Association of Ireland, (2019).