‘Women don’t get recorded in history the same way as men do, we don’t write history the same way as men do … we just get forgotten about if we don’t do it ourselves.’*
Examining roles and attitudes of women in Northern Ireland during a momentous period of recent history, extraORDINARYwomen utilised the culturally and historically significant collections of the Linen Hall Library which reflect and illustrate women’s lives and experiences in Northern Ireland, and archives which document ground-breaking movements for social change, trailblazing grassroots activism, and engagement with politics. Informed by insightful women’s literary and theatrical outputs, a meaningful and sustained programme of outreach facilitated extraORDINARYwomen engaging with women across Northern Ireland.
Previously unheard voices told inspirational stories of women collaborating and working together, supporting, and raising each other up, and finding commonality during a divisive period. Women engaging in movements for rights in education, health, and equality leading to improved accessibility, wider opportunities, and higher visibility. Instances of women affecting change and positively influencing their communities, emerging into community empowerment roles, and forming networks of support. And the lived experience of ‘ordinary’ women during the ‘extraordinary normality’ of the time.
‘No praise or applause, women getting on with being women.’*
Authentic responses to contemporary issues affecting women of all generations in Northern Ireland were captured and are amplified through this exhibition which, along with rare and unique archives and objects from the Linen Hall Library’s collections, and items donated and created during the life of the project, shine a light on the continuing collective journey of women in Northern Ireland.