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Voices of Women in Early Modern Ireland

Ordinary women are not absent from the story of early modern Ireland. Rather, they were hiding in plain sight.

The ambitious VOICES project aims to recover the lived experiences, of ‘ordinary’, non-elite women in early modern Ireland – voices that were up to now largely ignored or underrepresented in Irish history. 

Women living in early modern Ireland (c.1550-c.1700) experienced a similar set of transformative circumstances as other women across the British, European, and Atlantic world  – social upheaval, bloody civil war, extreme trauma and sexual violence.

Now, thanks to the emergence of a ‘digital windfall’ of historical data from sources as diverse as the 1641 Depositions and, we can access, interrogate, document previously inaccessible information on these women and recover their voices and experiences during this transformative period of Irish history.

The five-year European Research Council project, led by Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, School of Histories and Humanities, Trinity College Dublin, will:

  • Uncover the roles women played in Ireland at a time of profound economic, political, and cultural transformation.
  • Document women’s experiences of social upheaval, bloody civil war and extreme trauma, especially sexual violence.
  • Harness the immense power of AI and knowledge graph technology to represent and give voice to these women.

The project will offer a new narrative of early modern Ireland, placing women’s perspectives at the centre of Irish history. It will revolutionise our understanding of the history of women in early modern Ireland. It will also provide important insights into how history repeats itself over time and across geographies and how women’s experiences of social upheaval, civil war, extreme trauma and sexual violence have been politicised.