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Women in Irish diplomacy


Thursday, October 3, 2019, 13:00   |  


Royal Irish Academy


Free and open to the public

Join Michael Kennedy for the last lecture in the lunchtime series on 100 years of Irish foreign policy.

The role played by women in Irish diplomacy between 1919 and the end of the twentieth century, both as serving officers and as diplomatic spouses, has to date received little attention from historians. Between 1919 and 1922 the role of women in the clandestine Irish foreign service was pronounced. The establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 and the creation of the Department of External Affairs saw a great reduction of the role of women in Irish foreign policy. Ireland had few female diplomats until the removal of the marriage bar in the early 1970s allowed women who joined the Irish diplomatic service the chance to aspire to a career that would not automatically cease on their marriage. By examining attitudes to female recruitment, postings and promotion and the careers of Ireland's women diplomats and looking at the almost forgotten role of the wives of Irish diplomats, this lecture outlines the contribution of women to Irish diplomacy since 1919.

Michael Kennedy is co-author of our forthcoming book Ireland: a voice among the nations. The book will be published in late October; however, lecture attendees will have the opportunity to purchase the book ahead of publication.

About the book:
Ireland had a foreign policy and a diplomatic service before there was an internationally recognised independent Irish state. The origins of the modern Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade lie in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs established as one of the first four government departments of the first Dáil in January 1919. This richly illustrated book is a history of Irish foreign policy, rather than an institutional history of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade itself (though the two obviously go hand in hand). It explores how a small state such as Ireland has related to the wider world, by examining how Irish diplomats and politicians responded to the challenges presented by the upheavals of the twentieth century and how this small European state engaged with the world, from the Versailles peace conference of 1919 to the globalisation of the twenty-first century.

This is a centenary project of the Royal Irish Academy, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the National Archives.

Lecture series marking 100 years of Irish foreign policy:
19 September, 1 p.m.: John Gibney, ‘Sinn Féin ‘diplomats’ and the Irish revolution, 1919-23’.
26 September, 1 p.m.: Kate O'Malley, ‘Radicals to statesmen: relations between Ireland and India, 1919-64’.

Tabhair tacaíocht do thodhchaí an léinn in Éirinn

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