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Kathleen O'Malley

From Women in European History

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Kathleen O'Malley

Hannah Fish

O'Malley, Kathleen. Childhood Interrupted: Growing Up Under the Cruel Regime of the Sisters of Mercy. UK: Virago UK, November 1, 2006.


Critical Biography: Kathleen O'Malley


Annotated Bibliography

Bradley, Anthony and Maryann Gialanella Valiulis. eds. Gender and Sexuality in Modern Ireland. Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997.

This anthology is a collection of essays that focus on gender and sexuality in Irish history. These essays will help me to understand what it meant to be an Irish woman in the mid-20th century, and how this meaning evolved from the political importance of the work of Irish religious women in the first half of the century. Understanding the social constraints on women in Ireland at this time will help to understand Kathleen O’Malley’s mother, whose situation led to the displacement of Kathleen and her sisters by government intervention.

Luddy, Maria. “Women and philanthropy in nineteenth-century Ireland.” Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 7.4 (1996): 350-364.

Here, Maria Luddy investigates how social, political, and economic variables shaped the lives and expectations of women in the late 1800’s. I am particularly interested in Luddy’s chapters on children and prostitution. The chapter on prostitution will help to explain the original intended purpose of Magdalene institutions as rescue homes for women on the streets. The chapter on children will offer insight into the societal response to illegitimate children at the time. Overall this article describes the beginning of the moral reform movement in Ireland, from which Magdalene asylums and industrial schools arose.

Magray, Mary Peckham. The Transforming Power of the Nuns: Women, Religion, and Cultural Change in Ireland, 1750-1900. USA: Oxford University Press, 1998.

This book illustrates the role of women in the religious orders and their contribution to the community through social activism. This will be useful to me as it will help to illustrate the early steps of the moral reform movement in Ireland at the end of the 19th century and the role that the Catholic Church orders had in running both the Magdalene asylums and industrial schools.

McKenna, Yvonne. Made Holy: Irish Women Religious at Home and Abroad. Ireland: Irish Academic Press, 2006.

In this book, McKenna interviews a number of people who have contributed to the moral reform movement of Ireland, most of them nuns. These nuns describe the journey the take to progress in their rank. The book addresses discrimination against women and the cruelty brought to the nuns during the transformation to the Vatican II. This book will explain the baffling question of how and why the Catholic Church was so able to abuse its power during 20th century Ireland.

Raftery, Mary and Eoin O’Sullivan. Suffer the Little Children: The Inside Story of Ireland's Industrial Schools. United Kingdom: Continuum, 2001.

This book investigates the child welfare system in Ireland, beginning with the Industrial Schools Act in 1968. The book reveals what had long remained hidden and supports Kathleen O’Malley’s recollection of her time in the Irish industrial schools (which were run by Catholic Church orders) with testimonials of other victims of abuse in these institutions. This book will offer background on the establishment of these industrial schools, as well as experiences from other victims with which I can compare Kathleen O’Malley’s autobiography.

Smith, James M. “The Magdalene Sisters: Evidence, Testimony…Action?” Journal of Women in Culture and Society 32.2 (2007): 431-458.

In this article, James Smith discusses how the release of the movie The Magdalene Sisters has prompted many women and children, who were victims of both the Magdalene Laundries and the government’s industrial schools, to give testimonies of their abusive experiences in such institutions. Smith describes how victims of the industrial schools receive a different response than victims of the Magdalene asylums, as many who ran the asylums refuse to admit to any of the crimes committed. This article will help me understand how the Magdalene asylums and industrial school crimes were kept hidden for so long, and what ultimately led victims to speak out and write books about their experiences.

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