Margaret Mac Curtain

Metaphors For Change: Essays on State and Society

ISBN: 9781851322220

Margaret Mac Curtain – feminist, educator, activist, Dominican nun – has, since the 1960s, been an influential and respected commentator on Irish society. In this book of essays – the sister collection to her acclaimed Ariadne’s Thread: Writing Women into Irish History (Arlen House, 2008) – she engages, in her uniquely insightful and frequently challenging way, with feminism, culture, Irish history and politics, mathematics, activism, spirituality and theology, education and women’s history, in essays written from the 1960s to the 2010s. In a writing style that makes the complicated accessible and elevates the local to the international, these essays shine a spotlight on both the individual and collective experiences of women and men in Irish society over many centuries.


I still remember what an inspiration Margaret Mac Curtain was to me during those years when women scholars and writers struggled with bias and simplification in Ireland. Her perspective was and is very important. It showed me then and reminds me now that no matter how difficult a circumstance, an individual voice can still have the power to suggest a better future. Which is exactly what she did. And she was part of building it.

– Eavan Boland


Margaret stood out as a woman of integrity and principle over the years, and she did it with wit and grace. Her writing inspired many of us to continue the fight for equality and justice.

– Mary Robinson


Margaret? She is “… the Sunday in every week” – our Ambassador Extraordinaire who has brought veritas and history to the world.

– Maureen Murphy


Margaret Mac Curtain is one of our finest historians and educators, a path-breaker for women’s history and a shaper of contemporary Ireland. We owe her a great debt of gratitude for her generous vision and persistence in the face of considerable odds.

– Ailbhe Smyth


Margaret Mac Curtain’s scholarship, insight and acumen have been at the heart of humane change in Irish society for generations.

– Angela Bourke


A pioneer of interdisciplinary studies and gender studies in Ireland, Sister Ben is warmly remembered by her students for her ability to simultaneously encourage and challenge, sparking a critical approach, leading to completely fresh perspectives. There were no value judgements, and her graduate students, in particular, attest to her intellectual generosity, her inclination to give of all she had to allow the student to develop.

– Moya Cannon


I was one of the lucky seven who took Dr Margaret Mac Curtain’s women’s documents course in UCD in 1990 – it was the single most transformative event of my professional life.

– Sinead McCoole