Gender, Music, and the Public Sphere in Twentieth-Century Ireland


Mellon/ACLS Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellowships


For residence at the Louise W. and Edmund J. Kahn Liberal Arts Institute, Smith College


Where are the women? This question exposes a tangle of questions in Irish traditional music: where are the women musicians? How did a system of widespread classical music education for women in Ireland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries yield so few prominent women musicians in any genre by the 1950s? Why are few women instrumentalists of the twentieth century considered truly “traditional” players? This project investigates the forces that allowed or denied Irish women instrumentalists access to public traditional music performance opportunities in the early and mid-twentieth century. It argues that the decline in the number of women musicians in Ireland’s mid-century musical public sphere is the result of post-independence constructions of tradition as male and middle class.