Alice Milligan Project: Towards A Feminist Modernism


‘A profound and moving analysis of one of the greatest inventors of modern Ireland, this account of Alice Milligan itself displays those qualities of intellectual versatility and imaginative audacity which ennobled her life through its many astonishing phases.’ – Declan Kiberd

The Alice Milligan Artist Project: Towards a Feminist Modernism

This section of my website is an archive in process in which I have collated the public dissemination of the main research strands of my extensive project focussed around Alice Milligan in feminism, Irish modernism, visual culture and theatre practice. I am currently working with Northern Ireland & the European Public Library network to establish the project’s archives as a digital open learning resource. As further context for my research archive now stored in Omagh Public Library, I have assembled below the documentation of the exhibition I curated at the NLI, videos in which women activists and artists discuss the exhibition, the photographs and curator’s video made with Ros Kavanagh, the recordings of Declan Kiberd from the book launch, reviews of the book, and a link to the graphic novel that I produced in association with Nerve Centre that was launched onto Key Stage 3 of the National Curriculum in Northern Ireland.

The Book This book is the first study to explore the life and work of Alice Milligan (1866–­1953). A prolific writer for over six decades, she published her work in a range of genres (including poetry, short stories, novels, travelogues, biography, plays, journalism, letters, and memoirs). From 1891 to the 1940s, she founded a series of cultural, feminist, commemorative and political organizations that put the north on the map of the Irish Cultural Revival and provided a new resonance to Irish visual culture. This book not only reclaims an unjustly forgotten Irish cultural and political activist during this foundational era in modern Ireland, but also provides new ways of interpreting the Irish Cultural Revival itself.

President Higgins honors publication at a special ceremony at Áras an Uachtaráin

President Higgins honors publication of Alice Milligan and the Irish Cultural Revival (four Courts Press) at a special ceremony at Áras an Uachtaráin 20 April 2012

Declan Kiberd  launching Alice Milligan and the Irish Cultural Revival at the National Library of Ireland:

“A profound and moving analysis of one of the greatest inventors of modern Ireland, this account of Alice Milligan itself displays those qualities of intellectual versatility and imaginative audacity which ennobled her life through its many astonishing phases’, Declan Kiberd.

Irish Times Book review:  ‘Unsung Inventor of Modern Ireland’ book review of Alice Milligan and the Irish Cultural Revival by Declan Kiberd Irish Times

Extract from Catherine Morris speech at the launch of her book:

The Exhibition

Alice Milligan Exhibition, National Library of Ireland  

I was invited by the National Library of Ireland to curate an exhibition:  ‘Alice Milligan and the Irish Cultural Revival’. The show was opened by actress Fiona Shaw. I curated this multi-media show over a period of two years (working in conjunction with the National Library of Ireland, Martello Media & Microsoft). The themes of my exhibition (human rights; women; the north; national theatre and minority languages) were explored through a range of historical archives such as photographs, magic lantern projections, musical scores, ancient manuscripts, maps and books. I connected themes from Milligan’s cultural practice into broader contemporary debates about issues (such as the role of visual culture in social protest, feminism and national sovereignty) in a series of public talks and discussion groups. You can see our photographic documentation of the exhibition by Ros Kavanagh on the Exhibition Documentation page of this website.

Fiona Shaw with Catherine Morris and Fiona Ross opening Alice Milligan and the Irish Revival exhibition at the National Library of IrelandNovember 2010
Fiona Shaw opening the Alice Milligan exhibition with Fiona Ross, Director National Library of Ireland

International Women’s Day

In collaboration with Susan MacKay, the then director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland we created a large public gathering celebrating international women’s day in Ireland.

Catherine Morris, curator of the Alice Milligan exhibition at the National Library of Ireland, speaks at the National Women’s Council International Women’s Day celebration at the National Library.

International Women’s Day: 8 March 2011: to make the final day of the Milligan exhibition I worked with Susan MacKay, former director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland to create a large public gathering celebrating international women’s day in Ireland. We projected historic photographs depicting women at work selected from the collections of the National Library of Ireland. NWCI-NLI postcards In 2011 I worked with the General Post Office of Ireland and the National Women’s Council of Ireland to create two special stamps for International Women’s day from the National Library of Ireland collections.

International Women’s Day stamps launched with Milligan Exhibition postcards

Postcards depicting women in Ireland during the Cultural Revival I produced with the National Women’s Council of Ireland and National Library of Ireland postcards

We invited women to respond to the images during an ‘open-mike’ session. Speakers included Emmanuelle D’Achon (French Ambassador to Ireland), Alice Maher (artist) Lynne Parker (theatre director), Laurie Uprichard (Director of the Dance Festival), Jane Ohlmeyer (Professor of 17th century history, Trinity College Dublin), Fiona Ross (Director of the NLI), Clare Treacy (chairperson of NWCI) and Anthea McTiernan (editor of the Irish Times Ticket Magazine):

  • Alice Maher (contemporary Irish artist) 
  • Margaret MacCurtain (founder of women’s history studies in Ireland): 
  • Ivana Bacik
  • Jane Ohlmeyer (Vice Provost of Global Relations TCD): 
  • Anthea McTeirnan, Editor of the Irish Times Ticket magazine, [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdJKioGo4cA]
  • Trish Lambe: (Projects Manager, Gallery of Photography in Ireland): 
  • Lynne Parker (Theatre Director of Rough Magic):

 Remembering the Future Ulster Museum Lecture

 

Exhibition Documents:

Alice Milligan exhibition Media release November 2011

Alice Milligan exhibition described in NLI Winter Programme

Exhibition Catalogue by Catherine Morris

Media Coverage

Photograph of Fiona Shaw, Catherine Morris and Fiona Ross at opening of exhibition

BBC Northern Ireland 18 November 2010: Omagh’s Hidden Cultural Heroine article by Freya McClements Radio Foyle 

Alice Milligan Renaissance Woman, Irish Independent 22 January 2011

Irish Times article about Alice Milligan exhibition

Daily Mail 16 November 2010. Dermot Bolger review of exhibition: “THE WARRIOR POET; Republican and feminist Alice Milligan has long been forgotten, but a major exhibition reminds us the nation she fought for might have become a very different society.” Daily Mail 16 November 2010.

Other Voices: Alice Milligan and Irish National Theatre Discussion about Alice Milligan with Catherine Morris and P J Matthews Abbey Theatre event 3 March 2011: “Join Catherine Morris and P. J. Mathews as they discuss the remarkable theatre work of Alice Milligan (1866-1953) who created a truly unique national theatre movement in Irish communities at home and abroad.”

Exhibition Review by Ita Marguet February 2011 in “The Irish E-migrant News for the Global Irish Community”

Exhibition Review by Patricia Byrne “Walking with Yeats on Cave Hill” 8 March 2011

Catherine Morris gives a curator’s tour of her Alice Milligan and the Irish Cultural Revival exhibition at the National Library of Ireland. The film was commissioned by the NLI from Ros Kavanagh who filmed and edited the tour.

–  Catherine Morris interviewed on Morning Ireland tv3 for International Women’s Day

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Part III Documention by Ros Kavanagh & Curator’s Tour

In 2008, I was invited to curate ‘Alice Milligan and the Irish Cultural Revival’ a multi-media exhibition (working in conjunction with the National Library of Ireland, Martello Media & Microsoft). The show was opened in 2010 by Fiona Shaw. The themes of the exhibition (human rights; women; the north; national theatre and minority languages) were explored through a range of historical archives such as photographs, magic lantern projections, musical scores, ancient manuscripts, maps and books. I connected themes from Milligan’s cultural practice into broader contemporary debates about issues (such as the role of visual culture in social protest, feminism and national sovereignty) in a series of public talks and discussion groups. We commissioned Ros Kavanagh to document the show in two ways: Ros photographed all the displays throughout the exhibition and he worked with me to film a curator’s tour.

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Catherine Morris gives a curator’s tour of her Alice Milligan and the Irish Cultural Revival exhibition at the National Library of Ireland. The film was commissioned by the NLI from Ros Kavanagh who filmed and edited the tour.

Part IV: Graphic Novel & Key Stage 3 National Curriculum Northern Ireland

A graphic novel exploring the life of Alice Milligan and her role in the revival of Irish culture during the early 20th century is available to download and view.

Download Milligan.pdf (1.26 MB)

Developed by the Nerve Centre’s Creative Centenaries project, in conjunction with Revolve Comics, the short story charts some of the experiences of Alice Milligan and her work in the preservation of Irish cultures and beliefs.

In printed form, the novel sits back to back with the story of First World War poet Francis Ledwidge.

The comic book is just one of a number of resources being developed for the Creative Centenaries project, including other publications on the Easter Rising, Battle of the Somme and sinking of the Lusitania. The resource has been designed with an education pack for use at a Key Stage Three audience with background information and interactive learning tasks designed around each story. To access printed copies of the comic book, email: n.kerr@nervecentre.org