1st Edition

Irish Women's Prison Writing Mother Ireland’s Rebels, 1960s–2010s

By Red Washburn Copyright 2022
    212 Pages
    by Routledge

    212 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores 50 years of Irish women’s prison writing, 1960s–2010s, connecting the work of women leaders and writers in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. This volume analyzes political communiqués, petitions, news coverage, prison files, personal letters, poetry and short prose, and memoirs, highlighting the personal correspondence, auto/biographical narratives, and poetry of the following key women: Bernadette McAliskey, Eileen Hickey, Mairéad Farrell, Síle Darragh, Ella O’Dwyer, Martina Anderson, Dolours Price, Marian McGlinchey (formerly Marian Price), Áine and Eibhlín Nic Giolla Easpaig (Ann and Eileen Gillespie), Roseleen Walsh, and Margaretta D’Arcy. This text builds on different fields and discourses to reimagine gender and genre as central to an interdisciplinary and intersectional prison archive. Centering Irish women’s prison writings, in order to challenge canonization in history and literature, this volume argues that women’s lives and words offer a different view of gender and nation as well as offer a fuller and more inclusive archive of Irish history and literature. Additionally, this book will point to the ways in which their politics of everyday life and their cultural work is a form of anti-colonial civil rights feminism, for it speaks truth to power in a world in which compliance and silence are valued. Overall, this text focuses on rethinking and recasting women’s voices and words in order to document and promote the ongoing Irish freedom struggle from an abolitionist feminist perspective.

    Chapter 1: Introduction: Knowledge, Power, and Intersections of Theory/ History/ Auto/biography/ Methodology

    Chapter 2: Civil Rights March Script: Rhetoric, Politics, and Tactics in Bernadette Devlin’s Memoir The Price of My Soul

    Chapter 3: In the Footsteps of the Officers-in-Command: The Comradeship of No Wash, Hunger Strikes, and Fecal Art in the Prison Prose of Eileen Hickey, Mairéad Farrell, and Síle Darragh

    Chapter 4: "Our Only Weapon Was Our Pen": Strip-Searching and Resistance in the Politics and Prison Epistolary of Ella O’Dwyer and Martina Anderson

    Chapter 5: Sisters in Shackles: Sisterhood, Exile, and Force-Feeding in the Writings of the Price and Gillespie Sisters

    Chapter 6: Writing on the Walls: Power and Struggle in the Prison Poetry of Roseleen Walsh

    Chapter 7: Bloody Writing: Menstruation and Herstory in Margaretta D’Arcy’s Tell Them Everything

    Chapter 8: Conclusion: Towards an Interdisciplinary Prison Archive and an Intersectional Abolitionist Feminism


    Red Washburn, PhD, is Professor of English and Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at the City University of New York, Kingsborough Community College. They also teach Women’s and Gender Studies at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center. They are the co-editor of Women’s Studies Quarterly, published by the Feminist Press. Red’s articles appear in Journal for the Study of Radicalism, Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, and Journal of Lesbian Studies. Their essays are in several anthologies, including Theory and Praxis: Women’s and Gender Studies at Community Colleges, Introduction to Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies: Interdisciplinary and Intersectional Approaches, and Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community. They are the co-editor of Sinister Wisdom’s Dump Trump: Legacies of Resistance, 45 Years: A Tribute to Lesbian Herstory Archive, and Trans/Feminisms. Finishing Line Press published their poetry collections Crestview Tree Woman and Birch Philosopher X. They received an American Council of Learned Societies/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation fellowship for their next project Nonbinary: Tr@ns-Forming Gender and Genre in Nonbin@ry Literature, Performance, and Visual Art. Red is a coordinator at the Lesbian Herstory Archives and on the board of directors of Center for LGBTQ Studies.