Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Date Information

May 2014



First Advisor

Margo Shea


The modern nationalist movement (1916-1936) presented a contradiction for Irish women. On the one hand, they were being called to perform their responsibilities as citizens by extending their patriotism outside the home and taking a more active role in the fate of their country. On the other, Irish nationalism relied heavily on tradition; women were generally seen as the keepers of that tradition. Nationalist women struggled to respond to the competing responsibilities of their traditional domestic role and the emerging roles as citizens in a new nation.

This paper examines Kathleen Clarke as a case study in how nationalist Irishwomen balanced their responsibilities as citizens in the new nation with their traditional roles as wives and mothers. Kathleen Clarke was the wife of one of the executed leaders of the Easter Rising and the sister of another. She was very involved in the nationalist movement and in Irish politics. After the Rising, she was left as a single mother of three small boys while also managing a fund for the dependents of imprisoned rebels. She eventually became a senator and then the first female Lord Mayor of Dublin. In her struggles to balance responsibilities in both the domestic and public spheres of her life, Kathleen Clarke embodied the ways that the new nation simultaneously created and restricted personal, cultural and political opportunities for women in Ireland after independence.