Many great people are ignored; and some political traditions, conservatism for example,
are regarded as either of no great importance as a subject for analysis; or as marginal to
the political development of Ireland.
Furthermore, Irelands’ political
thinkers have displayed great heterogeneity, encompassing, for example, seventeenth-
century bishops and poets; professors and conspirators in eighteenth century; improving
land lords, urban artisans, journalists in the last century and politicians and literati in this.
Yet Irish historiography has largely remained unaware of the rich pickings offered by a
contextual approach to political ideas.
Instead, emphasis is still placed upon men or women of
action. Throughout the troubled history of Ireland, women have been no less concerned
than men when it came to coping with the difficulties and confused loyalties of Ireland.
The role they played, however, have been misconceived and underestimated in past
histories of the island. As revisionist history attempts to change the discourse of Irish
history, feminist historians are developing their own critique of mainstream writing. Most
of the literature on both sides of the nationalist debate assumed that the key actors in the
political activities were male. Women in Irish history have generally appeared as the
oppressed “other”. There has been little examination of the position of women in general
in the nationalist movement, or the relation between the nationalist movement and
struggle for women’s rights.
It is very evident that seventeenth-century Irish politics were a
function of public life, a male activity in which women played little if any role.