working-class mothers prayed with their rosary beads ‘in church,
home, on the street, in shops or queues, almost anywhere’.3 These
accounts illustrate that lay Irish women came to represent faith and
nation in the modern age. They testify to the central positions that lay
women held in the religious worlds of nineteenth and twentieth-century
Ireland even as they document both changes and continuities in how
women practiced their faith from the post-famine decades to 1950.
In the immediate aftermath of the Great Famine, the IrishCatholicChurch remained institutionally
a world remained; thus, the need for women to
commit themselves to zeal for the Virgin only intensified.
Scholars including Andrea Ebel Brożyna, Gerardine Meaney, and
Catherine Innes have argued that the Virgin celebrated by the modern
IrishCatholicChurch was fundamentally, and deliberately, passive.
‘Paintings and statues of Mary popular in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Ireland’, writes Brożyna,
tend to be very different from Renaissance depictions of robust
Madonnas, sometimes seen suckling the infant Jesus. She is
most frequently portrayed as fully