'She said she was in the family way': Pregnancy and infancy in modern Ireland

Edited by Elaine Farrell
7 September 2012
245 × 163 × 15 mm
268 pp
Hardback: 978-1-905165-65-0
PDF: 978-1-909646-47-6
'She said she was in the family way' examines the subject of pregnancy and infancy in Ireland from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. It draws on exciting and innovative research by early-career and established academics, and consider topics that have been largely ignored by historians in Ireland. The book will make an important contribution to Irish women’s history, family history, childhood history, social history, crime history and medical history, and will provide a reference point for academics interested in themes of sexuality, childbirth, infanthood and parenthood.
What this collection does brilliantly is to challenge the commonplace assumption in Irish history of the chasteness and therefore moral superiority of the population of Ireland. This is particularly true of the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, especially with establishment of the Irish Free State. The mantra of politicians in the Free State period was that one of the unique characteristics of Ireland was that it was pure and chaste. This was important because it was one of the justifications for independence and what distinguished Ireland from other countries, especially the United Kingdom and to a lesser extent the United States. What this collection demonstrates in a very convincing manner is that there was a great deal of sexual activity in modern Ireland. Outlawing contraception, banning abortions and censoring certain lewd newspapers did not seem to help at all. Infanticide – when all else failed – was the answer to sexual activity outside of marriage.

Dr Maryann Valiulis, review of ‘She said she was in the family way’: Pregnancy and infancy in modern Ireland, (review no. 1499)