Writing in 1963, Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed that creating the edifice of institutional Catholicism “is incomparably the most important thing [the Irish] have done in America. “ this is undoubtedly true, not only for the United States but for all the worlds the Irish settled in the long 19th century. But without religious women that institutional edifice could not have been built or sustained. Many thousands of Irish women chose exile in lands as diverse as Argentine and Australia, founding convents, asylums, refuges, schools, and hospitals in cities from Boston to Ballarat. Collectively, they made possible the creation of an Irish spiritual empire that has endured to nearly the present day, and helped to preserve a distinctively Irish Catholic identity across the English-speaking world.
Colin Barr is senior lecturer at the School of Divinity, History, and Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. His lecture will examine the recruitment, training, deployment, and impact of these Irish imperial women across the English-speaking world between 1830 and 1914.
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