THE lives of eight illustrious Cork women are to be celebrated by projecting their images onto Cork County Council buildings for Women’s Little Christmas today.
Portraits of Eliza Lynch, Agnes Clerke, Dr James Barry, Mary Elmes, Rita Lynch, Alicia Boole Stott and Edith Somerville will be illuminated onto Council buildings on Carrigrohane Road until Sunday.
The project is coordinated by the Herstory movement which have worked with 37 historians from across Ireland and the UK and is geared at bringing the lost stories of historic Irish female figures to prominence. For example, Eliza Lynch from Charleville married the future president of Paraguay, Francisco Solano López, in the 1850s and lived a life of prestige as his first lady.
Dr James Barry was born Margaret Anne Bulkley in the late 1780s in Cork. She disguised herself as a man to enter medical school in Scotland in her early twenties — at the time women were not allowed to study medicine. She later became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in London and went on to be a military surgeon in the British Army and is believed to have performed the first successful Caesarean sections.
Alicia Boole Stott was the daughter of much celebrated academic George Boole and she made significant contributions to the field of mathematics, specifically four-dimensional geometry, despite never holding an academic position herself.
Founder of Herstory, Melanie Lynch, says there appears to be a disconnect between the historical records of these womens’ lives and their place in popular culture.
“It really impacts on women’s understanding of their place in Irish society and culture. It’s a very subliminal message, especially as a young girl growing up, to see positive role models. The powerful thing about these women is they are very relatable because they came from our local communities and towns, from ordinary backgrounds.
“They are not princesses from a romantic novel…we’re talking about Irish women that were internationally renowned and did incredible things in their day from every field from the arts through to science.” Simultaneous events will also take place in Down, Dublin, Fermanagh, Galway, Leitrim, Limerick, Louth, Tipperary and Tyrone.
The ‘Herstory’ project is set to move abroad in 2018 to tour to the Irish diaspora.