The Ideal Diplomat?

Women and Irish Foreign Affairs, 1946-90


Ann Marie O'Brien

Hardback €40.50
Catalogue Price: €45.00
ISBN: 978-1-84682-851-5
July 2020. 176pp

"Like much else in the study of Irish history of the past century, the contribution made by women to the development of the Irish diplomatic service has been largely overlooked or relegated to an administrative or secretarial role. Irish society for the most part of the twentieth century was dominated by "glass ceilings" and legislative barriers to the advancement of women in the civil and public service ... The foreign service was certainly a male-centred career, however there were women, like Sheila Murphy in 1946, who broke through these "glass ceilings" before 1973 and became, possibly unwittingly, the crucial pathfinders for others to follow with distinction at all levels thereafter ... This book deals with these pioneering women and explores their experiences overcoming societal, professional and operational issues from the time they entered the Department of Foreign Affairs (formerly External Affairs) right up to them attaining diplomatic status. Their contribution to the development of Irish foreign policy and, in many ways, to the ongoing expansion of Ireland's diplomatic footprint around the globe is the focus of Anne Marie O'Brien's excellently researched work. Their story had to be told and now, no study of the history of the Irish diplomatic service can be complete without their story. Highly recommended for students of Irish foreign affairs or international relations and for former civil and public service employees who may have been in the service in the 1970s and 1980s." (Ireland's Genealogical Gazette, Vol. 15. No. 11. November 2020)