Ahead of the feast day of Ireland's female patron saint, Brigid, IrishCentral and Herstory share the responses to their survey "How has the role of women in Ireland changed in a generation?"

In honor of Brigid's Day, Feb 1, IrishCentral and Herstory asked the world "What it means to be an Irish woman?" and the results of our survey were beautiful and surprising. We wanted to reach out to women on the island of Ireland and the Irish diaspora at large to find out what makes the venerable Irish woman tick. We asked them about their influences, life lessons, and how they feel connected to the island of Ireland.

The IrishCentral and Herstory survey had responses from all over the United States, and from Australia, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. 

In the run of up to St. Brigid's Day, we will share some of the Irish community's responses to our questions and this is the first...

How has the role of women changed in Ireland since you were a child? Since your mother's and grandmother's generation?

"As a child of 60s, I remember women were seen as homemakers, stay at home, have children, don't have other employment...  Women and children were seen in the home but not heard. It was a deep-rooted patriarchal society.

"My grandmothers had tough lives, my mother survived Tuberculosis and had a good-sized family. Her role did not change over the years but society mellowed a bit in the '70s. She survived my father's death and her last decade of the '80s was eased for her. Women's roles changed as challenges to patriarchy became more the norm.

"Looking back my grandmother's era was just hard graft with little joys. Best left behind in time and something I would not like to see a return to those hypocritical days where women were seen as property."


"The young people of Ireland today have changed it dramatically for the good."


"Women do have more freedom and opportunity but the core of being a strong caretaker and a bit wild. A bit rebellious! That I believe remains the same."


"We have come such a long way since 1972, my year of birth.  It has not been plain sailing.  I firmly believe that joining the EEC, (EU) sparked an era of change.  It started the loosening of the suffocating grip, no chokehold the Catholic Church had on women's everyday lived lives.

"We could work outside the home after we married. We fought for access to contraception, we fought for not being an extension of our husbands,  we elected our first Formidable female president,  and then a second one We no longer lock up pregnant single women.  We can be uninhibited in our sexuality in whatever shade or variant it takes.  We can now access abortion.  We can now tell our stories ."

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"OMG where do you start! Certainly the overthrow of the church and its interpretation of a mother's role and value...  in a nutshell this is the kernel of all women growth for me."


"Women are learning to stand up for themselves. Trusting their own intuition and standing in their own power. Clearing Ancestral burdens and family constellations."


"My grandmother led a restricted life yet connected to the land. My mother and father were under siege from the colonial patriarchy which took my Dad's life and enshrouded my mum in grieve and pain.

"The stigma of being a single mother with four kids in 90's Ireland was hard to bristle through.

"Today, I have far more choice and support in life from people understanding mental health needs, women's healthcare and the women around me no longer stand back and pay witness to change they are instigating and honoring positive change in our communities."


"My Nanny's parents had to fight to keep her in education until the end of school where she then fought for a scholarship to cookery school. She became a head cook because women weren't allowed to have the title of chef. She had 4 girls and my grandad was told how "lucky" he was because he wouldn't have to pay for their education unlike him who had all sons. My grandad got incredibly angry and said his girls would do whatever they wanted and he would support them into any career they chose.

"My grandparents were incredibly progressive and instilled in us all that women were equal and could do anything a man could do. I'm in my mid-30s and was brought to my year head's office in 1st year to be reprimanded for taking technology instead of home ec... This was purley because I was a girl. No boy was brought in and reprimanded for not taking cooking and sewing lessons as she "didn't expect them to take care of a home". "


"Much more progressive and cosmopolitan and yet still a warm and welcoming place to come home to."


"Women have gone from horribly oppressed to a place where they are leading voices for a just Ireland.

"They were strong women.  I am in awe of their example.  They were housewives, yet they put it out there for their family."


"When I was growing up on a farm in the 1950s there was little more than hard times to look forward to and once a woman had children nothing more than caring for the family with few exceptions.

"Today thankfully Irish women can have a career of choice and a family if they choose. They have come a long way."