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August Highlights

Book Cover August Highlights

We have highlighted nine new books this month which look at the experience of women in Ireland throughout history, explore change in Irish society from the Georgian era to the twentieth century and we finish with the tale of a former Catholic Priests involvement with the IRA.

Book Cover August Highlights

Brides of Christ

Women and monasticism in medieval and early modern Ireland

Martin Browne OSB, Tracy Collins, Bronagh Ann McShane & Colmán Ó Clabaigh OSB, editors
Book Cover August Highlights

Throughout the long history of Irish monasticism, the experience of women monastics has, until recently, been relatively sidelined. A desire to redress this inspired the decision in 2021 to dedicate the fifth Glenstal History Conference to exploring the various ways in which women responded to the monastic and ascetic vocation in medieval and early modern Ireland. Whether as practitioners or as patrons, women found creative and dynamic ways to pursue their calling as ‘Brides of Christ’ between the fifth and the seventeenth centuries, often in the face of tremendous difficulties and challenges.

Their lives of prayer and service are sometimes hard to glimpse but the combined interdisciplinary perspectives of these essays brings them into sharper focus. The collection also demonstrates the current vitality of research on this topic and includes contributions by both established and emerging scholars.

The volume is dedicated to Dr Dagmar Ó Riain Raedel in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Irish and European medieval history and, in particular, to the study of medieval Irish-German monastic relations.

Speculative Minds in Georgian Ireland

Novelty, experiment and widening horizons

Toby Barnard & Alison FitzGerald, editors

Between 1750 and 1837 Ireland encountered new ideas, commodities and experiences. While political upheavals and international warfare have been thoroughly explored, the novelties in the domestic sphere and daily life remain hazy. This collection investigates a wide and varied range of the innovations. Changes in how homes were furnished and decorated, what shops stocked, what was available to plant in gardens, what the newspapers published, how the poor might be fed economically and employed usefully are all investigated. Through commodities like sugar and through personal experiences many in Ireland confronted the unfamiliar and exotic. ‘Novelty’ – in individuals’ lives and of goods – was at a premium. Those from Ireland gazed at the heavens, travelled to the Caribbean, devised manufactures to improve daily life, or speculated about how to release the untapped potential of the island. The results, whether inspired by curiosity, a zest for experimentation, fashion, profiteering, patriotism or civic conscience, permeated modest homes, small workshops and larger manufactories. Professionals, the middling sorts and the obscure, not just landed grandees, emerge as the vital innovators, inventors and patrons. Individually and collectively, the essays reveal numerous unexpected worlds within and beyond Ireland.

Figures of Authority in Nineteenth-Century Ireland

Edited by: Raphael Ingelbien, Susan Galavan

Series: Society for the Study of Nineteenth Century Ireland

Book Cover August Highlights

This interdisciplinary collection investigates the forms that authority assumed in nineteenth-century Ireland, the relations they bore to international redefinitions of authority, and Irish contributions to the reshaping of authority in the modern age. At a time when age-old sources of social, political, spiritual and cultural authority were eroded in the Western world, Ireland witnessed both the restoration of older forms of authority and the rise of figures who defined new models of authority in a democratic age. Using new comparative perspectives as well as archival resources in a wide range of fields, the essays gathered here show how new authorities were embodied in emerging types of politicians, clerics and professionals, and in material extensions of their power in visual, oral and print cultures.

These analyses often eerily echo twenty-first-century debates about populism, suspicion of scholarly and intellectual expertise, and the role of new technologies and forms of association in contesting and recreating authority. Several contributions highlight the role of emotion in the way authority was deployed by figures ranging from Daniel O’Connell to W.B. Yeats, foreshadowing the perceived rise of emotional politics in our own age.

This volume demonstrates that many contested forms of authority that now look ‘traditional’ emerged from nineteenth-century crises and developments, as did the challenges that undermine authority. CONTRIBUTORS: Marguerite Corporaal, Patrick Geoghegan, Patrick Maume, Michelle McCann, Caroline M. McGee, James H.

Ireland and Empire in the Late Nineteenth Century

Fergal O’Leary

This book examines the place of imperialism in the cultural, political and economic life of late nineteenth-century Irish society. It highlights the tensions which arose because Ireland was at the same time both a colonial subject of Britain, yet also shared aspects of the imperial culture which was being formed during this period. It considers how Empire seeped into everyday Irish life, explores how Irish men and Irish women were intimately bound up with British expansionism, with imperial achievements and setbacks enthusiastically covered in many national and local newspapers, and discusses how Irish politicians and students vehemently debated imperial matters in public.

It addresses key questions including: What were the similarities and differences with Britain’s imperial experience? Was there a general awareness and understanding of the implications of British overseas expansion? How was Ireland’s ambiguous role in Britain’s imperial enterprise perceived: did the Irish regard themselves as empire-makers, opponents of British national chauvinism, or occupying a more neutral role? Overall, the book provides a nuanced analysis of the impact of the British Empire in Ireland, demonstrating how the Empire was central to Ireland’s late nineteenth-century historical experience – for nationalists and unionists alike.

Book Cover August Highlights

Criminal Conversation With My Wife

Michael M. O’Conner

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.

A talk and launch of this book will take place at The Irish History Bookshop on Friday 8 September at 8pm.

A Year of Glory and Gold : 1932 – Ireland’s Jazz Age

Kevin C. Kearns

The 1930s in Ireland is often remembered as a bleak period of economic stagnation and unemployment. But, 1932, hailed by the Irish Press as a ‘new era’, was an early glimmer of the modernity that Ireland would later reach, with key events including Olympic gold medals and the rise of Jack Doyle, the Eucharistic Congress, a so-called gold rush and the election of Eamon de Valera, all hinting at Ireland’s future success. The soundtrack scoring all this change was the jazz craze, loosening the conservative moral order of the time.

Book Cover August Highlights

Bringing new forms of dress, lifestyle and behaviour, it excited a younger generation for the future, while leaving an older generation wary of such rapid change. A Year of Glory and Gold is an energetic biography of a bright year in Ireland’s history, combining deep archival research with spirited storytelling by one of Ireland’s best-loved social historians.

The Songs of Anna John Chiot | Amhráin Anna John Chiot

Pól Ó Seachnasaigh

Anna John Chiot was one of the Irish Folklore Commission’s most important sources of tales, poetry and lore from its foundation in 1935. However, it was her great memory for the old songs in Irish which really marked her out. Her repertoire consists of 128 songs, and includes long and short songs, together with verses and parts of other songs. This publication contains, for the first time, all of the songs recorded  from Anna John Chiot by the Commission, between the years 1935 and 1937, and from 1947 to 1948.

As part of this publication there are 21 songs which were recorded by six of the best sean-nós singers from Donegal. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Anna Ní Mhaonaigh and Máire Ní Choilm together with Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhríde, Brian Ó Domhnaill and Lillis Ó Laoire. Each chose songs from the collection and put music to them from their own repertoires. These particular songs can be read and listened to at the same time.

Experience, Identity & Epistemic Injustice within Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries

Chloe K. Gott

How are the identities of women shaped by religious disciplinary processes in Magdalene laundries and how do women re-engage with their sense of self after leaving the institutions? Chloe K. Gott situates these questions within the current cultural climate in which the institutions now sit, considering how they fit into Ireland’s present as well as its past. This book represents the first significant secondary analysis to be conducted of 81 oral history interviews recorded as part of the Government of Ireland Collaborative Research project, ‘Magdalene Institutions: Recording an Archival and Oral History’, funded by the Irish Research Council.

These were taken with women formerly incarcerated in these institutions, as well as others associated with this history. Grounded in qualitative analysis of this archive, the book is structured around the voices and words of survivors themselves. With a strong focus on how the experience of being incarcerated in a Magdalene laundry impacted on the gendered religious selves of the women, this book tracks the process of entering, working in and leaving a laundry, explored through the lens of epistemic injustice.

Book Cover August Highlights

The Padre: The True Story of the Irish Priest who armed the IRA with Gaddafi’s Money

Jennifer O’Leary

For almost two decades, Father Patrick Ryan evaded intelligence agencies across Europe and was, for a time, one of the most wanted men in Britain.

In The Padre, award-winning investigative journalist Jennifer O’Leary exposes the exploits of this notorious former Irish priest and active IRA supporter. Revealing sensational details divulged to her during exclusive secret meetings with Ryan, the book lifts the lid on the true extent of the priest’s involvement with the IRA and its campaign of terror across Europe, Britain and Ireland – from being a trusted link between the regime of Muammar Gaddafi and the IRA, to his involvement in improving IRA explosive devices, which made possible the almost successful assassination attempt on Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet in Brighton.

The Padre tells the truly remarkable story of this man of the cloth, who, decades on, is still unrepentant about his ruthless zealotry in pursuit of money, weapons and assistance for the IRA’s violence. Indeed, his one regret is that he wasn’t even more effective.