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girls’ lives in the past reinforce stereotypes of female passivity. Despite the lack of historical analyses of girlhood, a plethora of memoirs and autobiographies – what Breda Gray calls ‘a memoir boom’ – overtook Ireland beginning in the 1990s.9 The reasons for this are complex, but certainly there was something ‘cathartic’ or ‘confessional’ about these works, likely tied to the late twentieth-century Church scandals, criticism of the Catholic Church’s influence, and writers’ subsequent desires to expose long-held secrets.10 Disclosures about the horrific treatment

in Irish women and the creation of modern Catholicism, 1850–1950

’s The Nun’s Story . 26 Three popular memoirs are analysed in this section: A Right to be Merry (1957), The Nun’s Answer (1957) and Barefoot Journey (1961). 27 Written to reach an English-speaking audience and emphasising the perceived uniformity of religious life (especially for enclosed orders), this literature rarely acknowledged national identity. 28 American Poor Clare Mary Francis Aschmann, author of A Right to be Merry , wrote her memoir as if a Poor Clare in the United States lived a more or less similar life to Poor Clares in other far-flung places

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age

of the Holy Child Jesus, vividly recalled the sound of the bells of the convent of the Carmelites and recorded in her memoir: ‘I could hear the nuns entoning [sic] their solemn chant, and the thought came to me, how beautiful it was to sing the praises of God; and then a longing desire seized me and I wished that I could join them!’33 For Croft, these bells symbolised a way of life that venerated God and drove her ‘longing desire’ for a spiritual way of life. Necrologies offered similar sentiments. Margaret Bacon was drawn by a ‘wish to live for God’.34 Alice

in Contested identities

is Mitchell’s rosary factory in Dublin, which women and catholic culture 45 employed hundreds of working-class girls in the early to ­mid-twentieth century. In his 2001 memoir of growing up in Dublin during the 1940s and 1950s, Bill Cullen describes the process of making rosary beads: Alex Mitchell’s rosary-bead factory had hundreds of girls making rosary beads to help Christians pray all over the world. There was a terrible smell from the factory when the girls were boiling the cows’ horns. That’s right. Made out of cows’ horns the beads were. The boiling

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Women Spiritual Directors (New York: Palgrave, 2000), p. 173. RSM Handsworth: 1/200/4/4, ‘Instruction for Novice Mistress’, no date but copied between 1848 and 1884. [Wheaton], 1924, pp. 117–18. SHCJ: ‘Memoir of the Rev. Mother Angela Croft’, Second Superior General of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, 1913, p. 26. [Wheaton], 1924, pp. 117–18. A.M. Clarke, The Life of the Hon. Mrs. Edward Petre (Laura StaffordJerningham) in Religion Sister Mary of St. Francis, of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre-Dame de Namur (London: Art and Book Company, 1899), p. 213

in Contested identities

-Braithwaite , Class, Politics, and the Decline of Deference in England, 1968–2000 ( Oxford : Oxford University Press , 2018 ); Richard Vinen , National Service: A Generation in Uniform 1945–1963 ( London : Allen Lane , 2014 ), pp. 136 – 61 . Seabrook, Working-Class Childhood , pp. 202–8; Peter O’Brien , Evacuation Stations: Memoir of a Boyhood in Wartime England ( the author , 2012 ), pp. 46 , 264. 29 Hegemonic femininity is often discussed in relation to hegemonic masculinity, emphasising a complementarity that assumes the dominance of men and the

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Training College in December 1870 to be ‘examined for certificate’ in order to obtain permanent grants for their schools.44 Two Poor Servants of the Mother of God, Sisters M. Lucy (Maria Forrestal) and M. Claver (Sarah Synnot), took cooking lessons at the National School of Cookery in South Kensington in 1879.45 Another Poor Servant of the Mother of God, Sister M. Gabriella (Helen Corbett) attended college in the late 1890s.46 In addition, some congregations assiduously kept abreast of the changes in their profession. The Blackburn 39 SHCJ: ‘Memoir of Mother Angelica

in Contested identities

. Catherine M. Pilley’s necrology included a quote from another religious sister, who explained: ‘We were great friends, and though our characters were quite different we were devoted to each other without allowing our friendship to degenerate into too great familiarity.’51 The obituary of Mother Imelda Poole, published in The Month in 1895, noted that: Mother Imelda Poole, whose name has already been mentioned, was knit to Mother Drane in the bonds of a holy friendship, the depth and intensity of which the pages of the Memoir before us attest in numberless ways.52 The

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their daughters the skills and confidence they would need to create their own holy households one day. Overall, through their management of the holy household, Irish women carved out a sphere of female power in the midst of growing patriarchy. Households and materiality In To School Through the Fields, her prized memoir of a rural Irish childhood in the early 1900s, Alice Taylor described her home as ‘the nest from which we learned to fly’. ‘An ivy-clad farmhouse surrounded by trees’, she continued, ‘it stood on the sunny side of a sloping hill at the foot of which

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, lay women also helped to create a uniquely syncretic, and feminised, popular religion. Class and region, as well as gender, dictated one’s participation in or attitude towards this syncretic system. In the late nineteenth century, Mary O’Brien Fogarty, daughter of a prosperous Limerick farmer, described her childhood in her memoir, The Farm by Lough Gur. Fogarty’s father was an esteemed Catholic who crossed paths with many of Ireland’s prominent men; Fogarty, in fact, remembered when she and her sister once met Charles Stuart Parnell.33 As respectable Catholics, the

in Irish women and the creation of modern Catholicism, 1850–1950