Upcoming Events

Sunday March 26, 2023 at 5pm PST.

The ILHS will present a talk by Susie Deedigan titled ‘Surely, the Minister and the Government are not afraid of those women?’ republican women in Ireland, 1939-45. This talk will take place on Sunday March 26, 2023 at 5pm PST on Zoom (the in-person meeting has been cancelled).

At the outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939, the I.R.A. posed a renewed threat in both parts of Ireland. The old adage that England’s difficulty was Ireland’s opportunity was seized upon by an I.R.A. that viewed governments in Dublin’s Merrion Street and Belfast’s Stormont as agents of British imperialism alike. In response, both governments renewed their efforts to tackle the organisation. As part of this clampdown, seventy-one women were detained. Twenty-four were held in Armagh Gaol in the north of Ireland and forty-seven in Mountjoy in Dublin. Some of these women were sentenced by military or Special Criminal Courts, but the vast majority were interned without trial for an indefinite period. The activities they were engaged in ranged from minor actions such as distributing banned newspapers, to more serious charges including the possession of arms and facilitating communications between I.R.A. operatives across the Irish border. Some were teenagers, others were married mothers. Two were even interned alongside their daughters. A small number had been interned previously, during the Irish Civil War. Some came from families with exhalated republican lineage with surnames to match, such as Plunkett and Brugha. Others went on to remain active within militant republicanism for decades to come and to play a role in the conflict in the north.

The generation of republican women interned in the 1940s remains largely absent from academic historical narratives, mainstream public commemoration and even, in many cases, community memory. This paper addresses this absence by examining their experiences. By considering the collective and individual experiences of these women we can begin to add their stories to the history of political imprisonment in Ireland and to better understand the influence of gender on both governments’ approaches to domestic subversion during this period.  

Susie Deedigan is a final year Department for the Economy funded PhD candidate at Queen’s University Belfast. She is currently on a visiting student research fellowship in the Institute of European Studies at UC Berkeley. Her PhD project ‘Let the girl go home’: Irish republicanism, gender and political imprisonment, 1939-1945 is the first comprehensive study of female experiences of political imprisonment and state responses to female subversion in Ireland in the period. Her broader research interests include Irish women’s and gender history, labour history and histories of incarceration. She previously studied at Balliol College, Oxford, and Trinity College, Dublin. She is currently a Teaching Assistant in History and an assistant in Special Collections and Archives at QUB. She is also a current member of the Executive Committee of the Women’s History Association of Ireland. 

This talk will take place on Sunday March 26, 2023 at 5pm PST, on Zoom.

Zoom info:


Meeting ID: 870 8626 4627