Creative Women in Ireland

Creative Women in Ireland

I was hugely honoured to be included in Dr. Aileen O’Driscoll’s recently published book  “Creative Women in Ireland. Not Your Muse”. Aileen’s book captures the experiences of a selection of creative women in Ireland.

The women who took part in the study were selected because they are involved in a broad range of creative work and practices, from those on the fine art side of the creative and cultural industries to those in the more commercial creative fields. Additionally, they represent several generations of Irish women.

The research interview was conducted in February 2021 over Zoom and it was fascinating to talk with Aileen through the different areas of her research. 

Amongst the women interviewed were:

Amanda Coogan            Performance Art

Annie West                     Illustration

Carole Pollard                 Architecture

Jess Kavangh                 Music

Lelia Doolan                   TV and Film

Lisa Mulcahy                  Film

Liz O’Kane                     Sculpture

Marina Carr                    Playwright

Ooonah Kearney           Film/Theatre

Una Healy                      Graphic Design

The role of creativity in the lives of the women interviewed is such that it provides important outlets for self-expression and forms an integral part of their identity.

Aileen O’Driscoll

Aileen’s book launched last week in Dublin in Hodges Figgis Bookstore. The book “explores the role of creativity in the lives of the participating women, the experiences that have positively contributed to and supported creativity and their work, as well as how gendered considerations intersect with their involvement in the cultural sphere.” 

The topics researched were:

Childhood and adolescence (experiences that foster creativity in girls),

Further education and early career, (encouragement as vital to building creative confidence)

Creative work, (Exploring resilience, work ethic and motherhood)

Creative identities (integrating creativity into sense of self and life satisfaction).

What was so interesting about the conclusion was that each of the ten women, including myself, all had a significant level of freedom growing up in order to explore our creativity. Significant amounts of love and closeness provided stability and security allowing for each of us to explore our passion for art, music, writing and dance. Mentoring and encouragement were crucial in the educational sector and work sector and having a supporting hero showing faith in them provided space to learn and flourish. 

The women in this study were warm, compassionate, relational and caring – all qualities typically associated with women. But they were also very driven, determined, tenacious and highly creative which are characteristics more commonly considered masculine and thereby linked with men. 

So to be part of this study was not only an honour but also illuminating, in that each of the women involved in the study were actually quite similar in many ways.

For myself, it has always been a joy to work in a creative industry, where every day is different and it never gets dull.

Each woman interviewed articulated “the joy, fulfilment, and the satisfaction they glean from their creative work. They talk about their involvement in creativity in ways that suggest it constituted a ‘need’ rather than it being simply a professional choice.”

Aileen O’Driscoll

Thank you Aileen for your timely and thorough research into creativity in women in Ireland.

Aileen’s book can be purchased here