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Cara Delay

and its people. By the middle of the twentieth century, however, massive social and cultural changes were already underway, and soon Irish society could no longer ignore them. The 1956 murder trial of midwife-turnedillegal-abortionist Mamie Cadden publicised the realities of reproduction for some women, betraying the constructed ideal of national motherhood and exposing the myth of Irish sexual purity. Women’s emigration, meanwhile, continued to be endemic; from 1951 to 1961, over half of all Irish emigrants were female, and the travels of many were framed as an

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

’s 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 Irish Catholic Church remained institutionally

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

3 The Irish Catholic mother Autobiographies and memoirs written in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries affirm the pivotal influence of the Irish Catholic mother. As Maynooth scholar Walter MacDonald reminisced in 1926: I love to think of my mother, who was quite unlike – superior to – any other woman whom I have met, of her class. ... She was always at work, heavy work very often, about the house – ­cleaning, washing, ironing, sewing, cooking … . I remember, above everything else, the reverent care with which she undressed us and put us to bed

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

1 Women and Catholic culture Late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Ireland boasted a vast body of prescriptive literature that instructed women how to lead proper Catholic lives.1 A key example, Bernard O’Reilly’s 1883 advice book The Mirror of True Womanhood, conflated women’s religious and domestic duties: There is nothing on earth which the Creator and Lord of all things holds more dear than [the] home, in which … a mother’s unfailing and all-embracing tenderness will be, like the light and warmth of the sun in the heavens, the source of life, and joy

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

on changing values and beliefs, but an entirely new way of making sense of her existence. And ultimately, her eventual non-existence. This book is about the stories that people tell themselves about meaning, morality and being, and the way these stories changed in the second half of the twentieth century. Moreover, it’s about the everyday experiences that informed and were informed by these stories. Too often historians of

in The Pope and the pill
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Cara Delay

4 The holy household In working-class, early twentieth-century Dublin, Elaine Crowley’s mother conserved resources by purchasing used furniture. She did not hesitate, however, to buy a new framed picture of ‘Our Lady of Good Counsel’, placing it on the most prominent spot on the wall.1 Another working-class Dublin woman remembered that her mother blessed the house each evening with holy water, which she applied with a feather.2 ‘Like every Catholic house in Ireland’, wrote Maura Murphy, who was a child in the 1930s, we had a holy water font by the back door near

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

in vain to repeat the Lord’s Prayer as I felt it would help me, but I kept getting it all mixed up.1 Hyland’s concern that she would ‘lose’ her religion once she entered the Anglican Church testifies that some memoirists feared that they were ‘getting it all mixed up’ and not living up to the ideal of Catholic girlhood. Hyland worried that she would be changed, even contaminated, by her entry into the space of the Church of Ireland. From an early age, Hyland’s religion was integral to her identity – Catholicism was a central force in the lives of early twentieth-century

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

Great Famine, Irish women either retreated from or, in some cases, were pushed out of, the public sphere, forced to accept an essentially domestic life within the home. Several decades later those women in institutions – from workhouses and hospitals to convents and Magdalen asylums – were controlled and contained within these spaces and thus trapped within Ireland’s larger Catholic and patriarchal culture.2 As Clara Fischer writes, Irish women’s presence in public space by the early twentieth century ‘came to be seen as a dereliction of their ­domestic duty and

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

, sometimes marked by struggles for power and influence. In the close-knit world of the Irish Catholic parish, conflicts between priests and women were as common as examples of trust and support. These lay–clerical struggles demonstrate how Irish Catholic women sometimes successfully negotiated patriarchal clerical power in the age of the ‘devotional revolution’ and well into the mid-twentieth century.5 Intimates By the post-famine era, Irish Catholic priests were, as one Galway cleric explained, ‘Judge, Jury and Secretary’ in their parishes.6 They not 210 irish women

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

institutes had become ‘little Romes’ with authority centralised under a superior general or abbess. 11 When these leaders of congregations and orders spoke, causa finita est ! For much of the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, the Holy See with its centralising remit expected universality (the church of all peoples) to be maintained through uniformity. According to its way of thinking, the spirit of the world, modernity, led to worldliness and sorrow – and was to be dismissed or condemned. 12 From the 1940s, in a noticeable shift, the Holy See spoke with words

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age