their husbands, that we can label marital
violence as a social problem. As Linda Gordon points out, it was one
of the great achievements of second-wave feminism to define wife
beating as a social problem, instead of a phenomenon of particularly
violent men or relationships.5
This chapter will explore the ways in which marital violence was
sanctioned and controlled through Irishculture during the years from
1922 to 1965. Social, religious, and economic pressures made it difficult, and often impossible, for an abused wife to escape her husband’s
violence. Indeed, a
Between 1598 and 1800, an estimated 3, 271 Catholic women left England to enter convents on the Continent. This study focuses more particularly upon those who became Benedictines in the seventeenth century, choosing exile in order to pursue their vocation for an enclosed life. Through the study of a wide variety of original manuscripts, including chronicles, death notices, clerical instructions, texts of spiritual guidance, but also the nuns’ own collections of notes, this book highlights the tensions between the contemplative ideal and the nuns’ personal experiences. Its first four chapters adopt a traditional historical approach to illustrate the tensions between theory and practice in the ideal of being dead to the world. They offer a prosopographical study of Benedictine convents in exile, and show how those houses were both cut-off and enclosed yet very much in touch with the religious and political developments at home. The next fur chapters propose a different point of entry into the history of nuns, with a study of emotions and the senses in the cloister, delving into the textual analysis of the nuns’ personal and communal documents to explore aspect of a lived spirituality, when the body, which so often hindered the spirit, at times enabled spiritual experience.
Jennifer O’Mahoney, Kate McCarthy, and Jonathan Culleton
For institutions such as the Magdalen Laundries to exist, Irish society was required to co-construct powerful interpretations of Catholic notions of guilt, sin, silence, and the potential threat of an unrestrained female sexuality. These institutions operated at the nexus of interrelated social constructions of gender, nationalism, and class. The idealised construct of a Catholic, nationalist, Irish woman, pure of race and virtue, provided a societal measurement, which was closely policed within Irishculture
and Politics (Dublin, 1991); Maryann Valiulis, ‘Power, Gender and Identity in
the Irish Free State’, in Joan Hoff and Moureen Coulter (eds), Irish Women’s
Voices: Past and Present (Bloomington, 1995), pp. 117–136.
2 Ryan, Gender, Identity, p. 42.
4 Ibid., p. 49.
5 Brozyna, Labour, Love and Prayer, p. 27.
6 Jan Jindy Pettman, ‘Boundary Politics: Women, Nationalism and Danger’,
in Mary Maynard and June Purvis (eds), New Frontiers in Women’s Studies:
Knowledge, Identity and Nationalism (London, 1996), p. 195.
7 Mahood, The Magdalenes, p. 165.
significant emphasis on
the schooling of girls and young women, a feature distinctively lacking in the
The final chapter considers the rise in devotional activity and associational
or organisational culture between 1870 and 1900. The confraternities, sodalities, societies and associations that were introduced, largely by the middle
class, worked to further consolidate the Catholic population. Although Irishculture would remain a distinctive element in the character of Catholicism,
an increasingly united Scottish working-class consciousness and
behaviour. Texts like Philomena affirm the legitimacy and reality of such experiences, requiring that audiences face ‘a history that Irish society prefers not to acknowledge’ while also shattering ‘the culturally imposed closed ranks’ on taboo subjects like rape, gender-based discrimination, and domestic violence.
Although the theme of motherhood has long been ‘ubiquitous’ in Irishculture, it is only in recent times that Irish women have begun to speak as mothers
expressions of Catholic and Irish identity
state were also very concerned to further the aim of restoring the Irish
language and culture to its rightful position and they did this chiefly by
means of the education system. Church and political interests had the
same vision of the purity and distinctiveness of Irishculture and were
equally concerned to restore, maintain and protect what was seen as
the unique Irish Catholic identity from what were perceived to be alien
influences emanating from abroad. Independence made it possible to
copper-fasten Catholic identity and
of charity and raised the thorny issue of responsibility. Tensions concerning
religious territory, the domain of charity and the spectre of state control
played a part in the move towards the development of a comprehensive
maternity service in Ireland between the years 1922 and 1960.
This book draws from a wealth of literature on Irishculture, society and
politics that had helped to elucidate aspects of life in Ireland during the first
half of the twentieth century. In the last decade the scope of research on
women in Irish history has expanded beyond
Laffan, The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Féin Party, 1916–1923 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).
3 Timothy W. Guinnane, The Vanishing Irish: Households, Migration, and the Rural Economy in Ireland, 1850–1914 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997).
4 Tara Stubbs, American Literature and IrishCulture, 1910–55 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013).
5 Giovanni Federico, Feeding the World: An Economic History of Agriculture, 1800–2000 (Princeton: Princeton
-century ireland •
ndermining the Irish system of landholding was a paramount concern for
treatise writers and those debating public policy in Ireland more generally.
Equally, observers returned over and over to the purportedly perfidious
nature of Irishculture and how it could undermine English standards of civility. Clearly, there is no shortage of further avenues to explore in terms of the
policy debate on Tudor Ireland and how the treatises impacted thereon.
As noted early on in this book those who wrote treatises were driven to do
so for a great many reasons. Often