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religious of the nineteenth century have yet to be written. Jo Ann Kay McNamara, Sisters in Arms: Catholic Nuns through Two Millennia (London: Harvard University Press, 1996). The penal laws were a series of legislation issued after the English Reformation and directed against Roman Catholics that penalised, both politically and economically, those who practised the Catholic faith. 22 Developing identities of the penal laws was not so easily forgotten by Catholics, and Protestant attitudes towards Catholics and Catholicism were not easily altered. The migration of

in Contested identities

]he migration of young Catholic women’, according to Jennifer Redmond, ‘appeared to heighten fears about modern sexual behaviour; emigrants, no longer under the watchful eye of family and community, were at risk of sexual transgression once the bonds of propriety exercised so strongly on them at home were gone.’93 One result of the anxieties of the age was the Free State’s Censorship of Publications Act (1929), which prohibited not only the distribution of any information on contraception but also ‘indecent’ or ‘obscene’ reading.94 Consumers and creators By the late

in Irish women and the creation of modern Catholicism, 1850–1950
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These four congregations were the Sisters of Charity of St Paul the Apostle, the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, the Faithful Companions of Jesus (which contributed fifty-three sisters – almost sixty per cent of the French-born sisters) and the Daughters of the Heart of Mary. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur were actually founded in Namur, Belgium, and contributed only two French-born sisters and thirteen Belgian-born sisters to their congregation in nineteenth-century England. 23 This is only a cursory discussion of migration patterns of religious

in Contested identities

% of total number of siblings 364 357 32 9 762 47.8 46.9 4.2 1.2 100.0 Number of professed sisters Number of professed sisters as a % of total number of professed sisters 2,460 2,216 446 243 5,365 45.9 41.3 8.3 4.5 100.0 Source: Appendix. between Irish birth and kinship was stronger, extended family networking was strong in English-born women who became religious.99 Leonore Davidoff convincingly argues that siblings were ‘key links’ in patterns of migration, waged work and obtaining housing and other types of support.100 This was equally true for women

in Contested identities

memories of their religious life: the novitiate where they were trained, the chapel where they were professed and rooms that had been used for recreations and retreats. The mother house or provincial house was also a place of rejuvenation. Women religious returned here annually for retreats and recuperation. In 1895, the Faithful Companion of Jesus chronicler recorded: On July 20th the prizes were distributed by our chaplain, and on the following day our children left us. We then enjoyed a few holidays ‘en famille’ before setting out on our yearly migration to Upton.18

in Contested identities
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, Barbara Walsh and my own contributions addressed the agency and authority of women religious, highlighting their substantial role in the growth and dynamism of the nineteenth-century Church in Britain and Ireland. 87 The historiography of British and Irish women religious in the twentieth century is scant compared to that of North America and Europe. 88 Yvonne McKenna documents the lives of twentieth-century Irish women religious in Made Holy: Irish Women Religious at Home and Abroad (2006), which highlights identity, migration and diaspora and addresses the changes

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age
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Post-war modernity and religious vocations

religious life. From the nineteenth century, they followed Irish migrants to mission territories, meeting their spiritual needs through Catholic education, health care and social welfare. 67 The economic struggles of the 1940s and 1950s led to yet another mass migration of Irish. 68 Women were a significant constituent of this wave. Irish historian Caitriona Clear argues that women’s emigration should be understood in an additional context: ‘the coming of age of a generation of women who wanted to change their lives’. She highlights the harsh realities of married life

in Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age