An important feature of Irish Life were Nuns - education,charity & hospitals.
They were in the Crimea battling with Florence Nightengale -who stole their ideas. (Miz Nightengale was capable of original ideas and was a wiz at statistics & invented pictograms).
These guys were sucessful and acquired power and influence unrivalled by the Knights Templar.
So how come we know so little about them ?
Now a few hundred years earlier being a nun was quite fashionable for an
When Henry disolved the Monasteries the convents went to. The Edict ordered nuns to quit the kingdom or marry .
Nice one Henry !!!!
Now ,it seemed that unlike monasteries convents managed to survive -well at least this bunch
Lots of Irish clergy went to Nantes in France and here is an article describing events with Irish nuns in the decade 1650 to 1659.
This was Cromwells time .
So it does seem that the nuns were able to keep their organisations in place.
The now infamous Nano Nagle set up the Presantation Nuns pre 1800 in the middle of the Penal Laws
What interests me though is their expansion and how big they got in the Nun business.
I am trying to build up some excitement
That's a part of the story I never heard in school (and we heard it a lot being taught by Presentation nuns).
Yup - there is lots we do not know about nuns and their origans and how they were very important to the catholics churches survival in Ireland .
The 19th Century saw them tackle lots of areas in Ireland, childcare ,education, health care and prisons etc.
Along with the good they did -there also is some bad.
A lot of the 18th Century work involved prostitution which was a huge issue as the country was garrisonned.
It gets huge coverage elsewhere.
07 Mar 2011
A&S Home » American Studies » News Irish Catholic Nuns and the Origins of the Welfare System, 1830-1920
by American Studies Department | December 7, 2006
Maureen Fitzgerald has had published her study of the Irish Catholic Sisters and their contributions to charitable care in New York City.
The Sisters' work was tremendously successful in founding charitable organizations in New York City from the famine through the early 20th century. Fitzgerald, Associate Professor in American Studies, argues that it was these nuns' championing of the rights of the poor--especially poor women--that resulted in an explosion of state-supported services and programs.
Unlike Protestant reformers who argued that aid should be meager and provisional (based on means-testing) to avert widespread dependence, Irish-Catholic nuns argued instead that the poor should be aided as an act of compassion. Positioning the nuns' activism as resistance to the cultural hegemony of Protestantism, Fitzgerald contends that Catholic nuns offered strong and unequivocal moral leadership in condemning those who punished the poor for their poverty and unmarried women for sexual transgression. She discusses the communities of women to which the nuns belonged, the class-based hierarchies within the convents, the political power wielded by these female leaders in the city at large, and how, in conjunction with an Irish-Catholic political machine, they expanded public charities in the city on an unprecedented scale.
The volume is part of the series "Women in American History," edited by Anne Firor Scott, Susan Armitage, Susan K. Cahn, and Deborah Gray White.
This bit is particularly interesting:
Can anybody explain what caused the change? Did it mirror general changes in social attitudes?
Militarism and poverty created it.
It grew during and after the famine.
Victorian England was about self improvement but really the causes seemed to be veneral disease at epic levels causing 30 to 40% of soldiers not being fit enough for battle.
Another factor was a shortage of girls who wanted to work as domestic servants .
So - it was affecting upper class comfort and the empire.
See also: Victorian morality and Women in the Victorian era
Beginning in the late 1840s, major news organizations, clergymen, and single women became increasingly concerned about prostitution, which came to be known as "The Great Social Evil". Although estimates of the number of prostitutes in London by the 1850s vary widely (in his landmark study, Prostitution, William Acton reported that the police estimated there were 8,600 in London alone in 1857), it is enough to say that the number of women working the streets became increasingly difficult to ignore. When the United Kingdom Census 1851 publicly revealed a 4% demographic imbalance in favour of women (i.e., 4% more women than men), the problem of prostitution began to shift from a moral/religious cause to a socio-economic one. The 1851 census showed that the population of Great Britain was roughly 18 million; this meant that roughly 750,000 women would remain unmarried simply because there were not enough men. These women came to be referred to as "superfluous women" or "redundant women", and many essays were published discussing what, precisely, ought to be done with them.
While the Magdalene Asylums had been "reforming" prostitutes since the mid-18th century, the years between 1848 and 1870 saw a veritable explosion in the number of institutions working to "reclaim" these "fallen women" from the streets and retrain them for entry into respectable society — usually for work as domestic servants. The theme of prostitution and the "fallen woman" (an umbrella term used to describe any women who had sexual intercourse out of wedlock) became a staple feature of mid-Victorian literature and politics. In the writings of Henry Mayhew, Charles Booth, and others, prostitution began to be seen as a social problem.
When Parliament passed the first of the Contagious Diseases Acts in 1864 (which allowed the local constabulary to force any woman suspected of venereal disease to submit to its inspection), Josephine Butler's crusade to repeal the CD Acts yoked the anti-prostitution cause with the emergent feminist movement. Butler attacked the long-established double standard of sexual morality.
Victorian England and Dublin were sophisticated with a great emphasis on improvement
I am trying to find figures for actual levels of prostitution.
Veneral disease such a syphilis which is now treatable was a real public health issue.
Another was Darkey Kelly
Here is an excellent article by Maria Luddy on 19th Century Ireland.
Quakers & presbyterians also wanted reform.
The early magdalene asylums allowed women to come and leave when they wished, sounds a bit like the rehab clinics of nowadays. I know its very much a live topic at the moment rather than history but the comments at the end of this article are very interesting http://www.historytimes.com/fresh-perspectives-in-history/british-and-irish-history/138-magdalene-laundries-still-no-justice-in-the-world
Rebecca Lea McCarthy has a book about the origins of the Magdalenes that traces the route back to poor laws and factory laws. She explains that the English Magdalenes encouraged the women to "realise her economic potential" while the Irish ones "felt it was impossible to allow such a woman back into society without the expectation that she would fail again".
Rebecca Lea McCarthy also has one possible suggestion as to why the Magdalenes in Ireland changed their attitudes to being more punitive in punishment. A statement from a mother superior of Donnybrook asylum says "the peaceful magdalene inmates were the ones who had been in the laundry for a very long time, suggesting that time, physical space and labour were the only saviours for these women". So perhaps the punitive ways developed from the nuns judgement of how the women reacted to them, the longer they kept them the more subdued they were.
Organisations get their own dynamics.
The founders will have believed that women who wanted to get out of the lifestyle and were volunteers were the ones to target.
I imagine they were replaced by "professional" nuns who grew the organisation like any business .
Nano Nagle was charismatic and got followers -her sucessors may have taken the view that press ganging the women in gave them better numbers.
They actually went global and were competitive- directly taking on and out manoevering Florence Nightengale.
Look at this.
This was 1855 and these ladies were achieving things.
They brought these skills and contacts and influence back to Ireland with them.
CDfm here are some stats for the number of prostitutes in England and Wales