This article explores the impact of the First World War on female unionism and orangeism. The period of political crisis in Ireland that preceded the war mobilised unprecedented numbers of women into political and quasi-political associations. Determined that Ireland would remain under the Act of Union, members of the Ulster Women’s Unionist Council and Association of Loyal Orangewomen embraced rather than challenged gender difference. The unionist campaign of resistance to home rule was suspended on the outbreak of the First World War, but the uncertainty of the post-war situation, the Easter Rising of 1916, the partition of Ireland, and ill-fated Irish Convention and partial female enfranchisement, ensured that the unionist truce was often a façade. The transformative role of the First World War is often highlighted, but this examination suggests the gender constraints experienced in the early twentieth century survived the conflict and continued to define women's role in unionism and orangeism for decades.
- women's unionism
- World War I
- Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland
- female enfranchisement