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Criminal Conversation with My Wife

Book Cover Criminal Conversation with My Wife

Dr Michael M. O’Connor will talk about his new book “Criminal Conversation With My Wife” at the Irish History Bookshop, Main Street, Cong at 8pm on Friday 8 September. All are welcome to attend.

About the book

No aspect of the history of County Mayo has been so neglected as the history of the lives and experiences of women. This collection of histories seeks to address critical aspects of this deficit.

A broad range of sources and a wide selection of Mayo case studies are used to explore the position of Mayo women who encountered the law and legal system in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The themes considered include discrimination, the breakdown of relationships, domestic violence, murder, infanticide, abortion, prostitution, rape, abduction, and same-sex relationships. The use of mental health legislation and institutional confinement to control, manage and suppress women is also considered. The lack of accountability for physical and sexual abuse in public institutions and the difficulties faced by women seeking to prosecute sexual predators are also explored.

For the first time, the Magdalene Asylum, which operated in Westport, is scrutinised, and its importance as an early example of the undertaking to contain women is highlighted. The position of women before Ireland’s most unforgiving tribunal, the Court of Public Opinion, which ruthlessly enforced the social policing of women, is also examined.

About the author

Dr Michael O’Connor is a lawyer, independent researcher, and author. He holds first-class honours degrees in law from Trinity College Dublin and the University of Cambridge and a Doctorate in Philosophy (law) from Trinity College Dublin. He is a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England & Wales and the High Court of Ireland. For many years, he was a partner in one of Ireland’s largest law firms. His research interests include legal history, public institutions, slavery, women and the laws of men, and the history and lives of ordinary people.

Recent publications include Anatomy of a County Gaol – County Mayo, A History of Imprisonment, Capital Punishment & Transportation (2020); Caribbean Slave Owners & Other Lesser-Known Histories from County Mayo (2021); and ‘Criminal Conversation with My Wife—Women & the Laws of Men’ (2023).  

A native of County Mayo, Michael now lives in Murrisk.