Tag: Ireland

Explicit: Censorship, Sexology, and Sexuality in Independent Ireland

When the Irish Free State created the Censorship of Publications Board in 1929, they were arguably asserting their independence.1 By taking control of information, and defining standards of morality and decency through banned literature, censorship was in fact a rejection of colonial rule. Much of the independent Irish identity hinged on a sense of moral… Read more →

Women, Prayer, and Household Authority in Irish History

Traveling through Ireland in 1909, writer Robert Lynd described “a strange crying—almost a lamentation” that one might hear “on some evenings, if you are in a Catholic house in the most Irish parts of the country.” This strange sound, he elaborated, “was the hour of family prayer.”1 In almost all Irish households, nightly prayers were… Read more →

“I Would Rather Have My Own Mind”: The Medicalization of Women’s Behavior in Ireland, 1914-1920

When he brought her to the asylum, twenty-four-year old Katie’s father was asked to describe what behaviors or actions had marked her “attack.” He noted, first, that she suffered from “some uterine trouble,” and secondly, that she was “addicted to reading Novels, esp. Modn. cheap ones. Fond of amusement and gay society.”1 It sounds like… Read more →

Male Jealousy & Questions of Sexual Honor: A Look at Historical Cases of Domestic Murder in Ireland

At present in Ireland, a Domestic Violence Bill is rumbling its way through the Irish parliament, a welcome albeit overdue development. Louise Crowley has noted that failures to enshrine domestic violence as a discrete criminal offense have gone hand-in-hand with Ireland’s historic reluctance to intervene in such cases. A look at gendered violence in Ireland,… Read more →

“A Basic Issue of Women’s Liberation”: The Feminist Campaign to Legalize Contraception in 1970s Ireland

On May 22, 1971, forty-seven members of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement (IWLM) boarded the 8am train from Dublin to Belfast. Their aim was to purchase contraceptives in the north, where contraception was legal under UK law, and to travel back to Dublin with them in order to highlight the hypocrisy of Irish law, which… Read more →

The First Communion Dress: Fashion, Faith, and the Feminization of Catholic Ireland

In late 2012 the Irish Times and National Museum of Ireland selected the Roman Catholic First Communion dress as one of the most important 100 objects in Ireland’s history. A girl’s dress thus took its place alongside bronze age funerary pots and the Book of Kells as items essential to Ireland’s history and culture. Articles… Read more →

The Girl and the Grotto: Remembering and Forgetting in Irish History

Walking home from school on a frigid day in January 1984, two Irish boys came across a shocking scene: in a grotto at the local Catholic Church, alongside a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, lay the still bodies of a teenage girl and a newborn infant. The girl, fifteen-year-old Ann Lovett from Granard, County… Read more →

Irish Abortion Trails and Informal Care Networks: Facilitating Continuities in Care

Women from the north and south of Ireland have travelled to England to access abortion services since the advent of the British Abortion Act in 1967 (and before this as single expectant mothers.)1 Lacking help from health services in either jurisdiction of Ireland, activist networks on these abortion trails have emerged to support the thousands… Read more →

“The Torture Began”: Symphysiotomy and Obstetric Violence in Modern Ireland

“They just took me into the ward and put me on the bed and told me they were going to do some little job … ‘you’ll be very sore, and your legs will be tied together,’ [said the doctor]. And by God, it’s a thing you’ll never forget the rest of your life.”1 Twenty-one-year old… Read more →

“For Poor or Rich”: Handywomen and Traditional Birth in Ireland

On Achill Island, Ireland, an untrained woman was prosecuted for acting as a midwife in 1932. In her defense, she argued that she intervened only in an emergency “to save the mother and child.” Here, local authorities decided “not to press the case hard and to ask for a light penalty.”1 Controversies like this were… Read more →