This is the first general survey of the history of women in early modern Ireland. Based on an impressive range of source material, it presents the results of original research into women's lives and experiences in Ireland from 1500 to 1800. This was a time of considerable change in Ireland as English colonisation, religious reform and urbanisation transformed society on the island. Gaelic social order based on dynastic lordships and Brehon Law gave way to an anglicised and centralised form of government and an English legal system. Colonisation brought English and Scottish settlers to Ireland while urbanisation revolutionised the Irish economy. Mary O'Dowd assesses the impact of these changes on women. She examines the contrasting roles and status of women in the new as well as the old communities of early modern Ireland. O'Dowd also explores the engagement of women with some of the key developments of eighteenth century Ireland: the booming economy, the growth of patriot politics and emergence of the Volunteers and later the United Irishmen. This book will set the research agenda for the history of women in Ireland, 1500-1800 for many years to come.
Mary O'Dowd is Senior Lecturer at Queen's University Belfast.
Dr O'Dowd is one the editors of 'Women in Early Modern Ireland' - a collection of essays published by Edinburgh University Press in 1991.