Political reasons

Of women in public life, O'Higgins asked the Dáil, 'but are they normal or the exception?' Submitting to the House that they were the exception, the Minister added, 'it is the normal and natural function of women to have children.'
Mary Clancy, 'Aspects of women's contribution to the Oireachtas debate in the Irish Free State, 1922-1937' in Maria Luddy & Cliona Murphy (eds.), Women Surviving , Dublin, 1990, p. 223.


In retrospect, the opposition of the majority of politically-active women to the Treaty can be seen as the first step towards their gradual exclusion from public life in the new Ireland.
Carol Coulter, The Hidden Tradition, Cork, 1993, p. 24.


  1. Only _______ women were elected to the Dáil in 1923, but _______ of them were ____________, which means that they never _____________ .
  2. Comment on the main reasons given for restrictions on women in the early years of the state.
  3. Select any one of the following factors and discuss how it affected the role of women in the early years of the state: social values; finance; farming; trade; security; politics.


  1. Research the attitudes of Kevin O'Higgins or Éamon de Valera to the role of women.
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