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Irish-Catholicwomen and modernity
in 1930s Liverpool
World War One ‘marked the beginning of a Catholic revival’ in Britain and
America suggests Patrick Allitt, reflected by ‘a period of bolder social policy,
accelerated institutional growth, and a new concern with intellectual life’.1
The confidence of the Catholic Church was particularly striking because of
the notable number of high-profile religious conversions made by public
intellectuals in the two decades after 1918: Evelyn Waugh, Graham
Bringing together leading authorities on Irish women and migration, this book offers a significant reassessment of the place of women in the Irish diaspora. It demonstrates the important role played by women in the construction of Irish diasporic identities, comparing Irish women's experience in Britain, Canada , New Zealand and the United States. The book considers how the Catholic Church could be a focal point for women's Irish identity in Britain. It examines how members of the Ladies' Orange Benevolent Association (LOBA) maintained a sense of Irish Protestant identity, focused on their associational life in female Orange lodges. The book offers a lens on Irish society, and on countries where they settled, and considerable scope for comparative analysis of the impact of different cultures and societies on women's lives. It reviews key debates in Transnational Studies (TS) and Diaspora Studies (DS) before discussing the particular contribution of DS in framing 1990s study of migrant and non-migrant Irish women. Feminist and queer theory scholarship in Irish DS has begun to address the gender and sexual politics of diaspora by attending to the dynamics of boundary expansion, queering and dissolution. The book suggests that religion can be both a 'bright' and a 'blurry' boundary, while examining how religious identities intersect with ethnicity and gender. It also includes the significance of the categories of gender and generation, and their intersection with ethnicity in the context of the official London St Patrick's Day Festival.
Irish diaspora studies and women: theories, concepts and new perspectives
D. A. J. MacPherson and Mary J. Hickman
church continued to function as a
focal point for group identity. However, institutions like schools and the Irish
Chaplaincy could also serve to exclude those who did not conform to certain
expectations of morality and behaviour.
Charlotte Wildman’s chapter also considers how the Catholic Church could
be a focal point for women’s Irish identity in Britain. Wildman examines the
experience of Irish-Catholicwomen in interwar Liverpool, arguing that,
contrary to much scholarship, their identity was shaped by modernity. During
the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Catholic
The fraught relationship between women and the Catholic Church in Ireland
Catholic Church in juxtaposition
with the growing awareness by Catholicwomen that they had framed their lives
by edicts promulgated by a celibate male-dominated institution that had supported double standards in an area in which it was most vocal.The consequences
of this ethos have been traumatic, with generations of Irish women in particular
having paid a heavy price in terms of the approximately thirty childbearing
years of their lives that were framed by a strict regime of enforced selflessness
and a system of severe penury for those who did not conform. I
. The people up the top of the flats, mainly Irish Catholicwomen, were
throwing rubbish on the police. We were all side by side. I was moved to tears to see
bearded Jews and Irish Catholic dockers standing up to stop Mosley. I shall never
forget that as long as I live, how working class people could get together to oppose
the evil of racism.21 [Emphasis added]
But again there is conflicting evidence. In an almost diametrically opposed
account, Henry Srebrnik‘s research showed that:
Despite strenuous recruiting efforts on the part of the STDL [Stepney Tenants
’s, Green, 1868), p. 319.
Ibid., pp. 333–4.
Ibid., p. 341.
Ibid., p. 343.
Report on the welfare of Irish Catholic girls in Britain 1953, by Mrs Elizabeth
Fitzgerald, president Archdiocese of Westminster branch of CatholicWomen’s
League, National Archives Ireland, Department of the Taoiseach, S11582 Emigration.
6 Maguire, The Irish in America, p. 339.
7 M. E. Daly, The Slow Failure: Population Decline and Independent Ireland, 1920–1970
(Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006), pp. 78–82.
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Being Irish in nineteenth-century Scotland and Canada
S. Karly Kehoe
. My opinion is somewhat different to those
expressed by Carmen Mangion and Susan O’Brien. See Mangion, Contested
Identities: CatholicWomen Religious in Nineteenth-Century England and Wales
(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008) and S. O’Brien, ‘French nuns in
nineteenth-century England’, Past & Present, 54 (1997), 142–80.
6 S. K. Kehoe, Creating a Scottish Church: Catholicism, Gender and Ethnicity in NineteenthCentury Scotland (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010); S. K. Kehoe, ‘Irish
migrants and the recruitment of Catholic Sisters to Glasgow
prolonged crisis over self-government in Ireland. By 1927, the LOBA could boast of 23,665 members across
every province in Canada, comparing favourably to approximately 70,000
Orangemen in the Dominion.30 However, the heartland and birthplace of the
LOBA, Ontario, continued to have the greatest membership, comprising over a
third of the total number of lodges (see Table 9.1).
Echoing the findings of Charlotte Wildman in her chapter in this volume on
Irish-Catholicwomen in interwar Liverpool, the work carried out by members
of the LOBA was often highly gendered
threatening of danger.72
The McCann case in Belfast had provoked widespread condemnation
of the decree, rioting in Belfast, and vehement opposition from the
Presbyterian church on 8 June 1911. In the same year St John G. Ervine’s
‘Mixed Marriage’ was performed at the Abbey Theatre Dublin.
In both the 1901 and the 1911 census, more than fourteen per cent
of Protestant men in Dublin were returned as married to Catholicwomen.73 Contemporary press reports also indicate that in a number
of intermarriage cases Protestant women, who had changed their religion and baptised their
addition to these groups catering for young boys and girls, the Social
Workers’ Handbook (1947) lists a large number of boys’ and girls’ clubs, the
most prominent of which were those run by the Society of St Vincent de Paul
and the St John Bosco Society. Also listed are the Belvedere Boys’ Club, girls’
clubs run by the Legion of Mary and clubs run by the CatholicWomen’s
Federation of Secondary School Unions. The activities of these clubs usually
amounted to physical activities, instruction in arts and crafts and some form
of religious instruction.
The state for the most