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The Leaving of Ireland

Migration and Belonging in Irish Literature and Film


John Lynch and Katherina Dodou

The Leaving of Ireland brings together an international group of scholars to reflect critically on the unfolding nature of the experience of Irish cultural identity at a time when Ireland is struggling to adjust to the shattering impacts of globalization and religious scandals of recent decades. Looking back over the last two centuries, the volume considers a range of literary and filmic works that have sought to articulate something of this experience and its multiple locations. The essays revisit crucial constituents of Irish history and self-perception at the micro-level, exploring the representation of individual experiences of migration and identification and the definition of a sense of belonging. They also examine these issues at the macro-level, looking at larger politico-historical transformations, national affiliations and changed social and geographical landscapes. The book is organized around key themes including history, mobility, memory and place and addresses the works of a wide range of authors, including Emily Lawless, Frank McCourt, Sinéad Morrissey, Paul Muldoon, Joseph O’Connor, J.M. Synge and W.B. Yeats.
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Religion, Migration and Church Abuse Scandals in the Media: Testimonies of Two Irish Religious Sisters


ABSTRACT In this chapter, two sisters are interviewed and recount details of their early lives as women religious and their subsequent experiences of migrating to London in the 1960s. The pseudonymous interviewees provide fascinating details of what it was like to live in that place during that period and to occupy an identity that was often problematic and subject to hostile attitudes as the Irish conflict extended to the British capital. As both sisters now reside once more in Ireland, their journey and return express an important aspect of Irish life as it once was and will perhaps never be again.

This chapter is based on the oral testimony of two sisters from County Roscommon, Ireland, who, when in their teens, independently chose to commit to a religious life.1 At the time of the interview they were seventy-two and seventy years of age and both now reside, once more, at home in Ireland. The older sister chose, at the point of entry to the novice stage of religious training, to leave the order she was in and eventually married and raised a family. The younger sister has spent the whole of her adult life as an active member of a religious order. Both lived their working lives in England, primarily London, and both trained as nurses working within the NHS. ← 93 | 94 →

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