Mondays at Gaj’s: The Story of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement

Author Anne Stopper
Condition Very Good
Cover Type Softback

“Monday’s at Gaj’s” traces the lives of a fascinating group of women who founded Ireland’s first radical women’s rights organisation – the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement. Gaj’s was the Baggot Street restaurant, now closed, where the IWLM, as well as other activists, poets other people on the margins, met every Monday night. When the group formed in 1970, the marriage bar was in place, contraception was illegal and women’s issues were just beginning to be debated publicly. The women who formed the IWLM – Mairin de Burca, Mary Maher, Nell McCafferty, Rosita Sweetman and Mary Kenny, to name but a few – were some of the most dynamic, controversial and exciting public figures of their time. Many were well-known journalists and political activists and they were able to grab the public’s attention as no women ever had because they were fearless, charismatic and trained in skilful communication. The IWLM’s main accomplishments included the publication of a charter of demands, appearance on a special “Late Late Show” devoted to women’s issues and organising the Contraceptive Train to Belfast, which was the first public challenge to the ban on contraceptives. What sets “Monday’s at Gaj’s” apart from other histories of the women’s rights movement is that it is based on a series of personal interviews with the activists themselves, allowing the IWLM founders to tell their own stories in their own words. Learning about their early lives and the motivations behind their brave activism makes it easier to understand the nature of the women’s liberation movement at that particular time. It also personalises the story, inviting readers to become engaged with the struggle to bring about change, and allows the women to reflect on how their perspectives on women’s rights have changed in the 35 years since the group’s disintegration. With numerous photographs and additional interviews with well known observers, “Monday’s at Gaj’s” paints a fascinating portrait of an exciting period in Ireland’s cultural history.