Book reviews


The Women’s History Association of Ireland is dedicated to reviewing the newest literature in the area of women’s history and Irish history. In 2014 we launched a new book review section which appears on this site and is regularly updated. All time periods and themes are considered for review.

Please use the drop down menu under the “Book Reviews” tab to view the selection of reviews completed so far.

As a member of the WHAI you can suggest titles to us and we will source the book for you (you must be a current member in order to complete a review). Postgraduate students, early-career and non-academic researchers are all welcome to submit requests and complete reviews. Full guidelines will be given if you email the book review editor, Maeve O’Riordan at Reviews should be 1,000 words in length and are usually due two months after receipt of the book.  If you are publishing a book, let your publisher know to send us a review copy.

These titles are currently available for review:

A Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sister Maura by Eileen Markey

On a hot and dusty December day in 1980, the bodies of four American women—three of them Catholic nuns—were pulled from a hastily dug grave in a field outside San Salvador. They had been murdered two nights before by the US–trained El Salvadoran military. News of the killing shocked the American public and set off a decade of debate over Cold War policy in Latin America. The women themselves became symbols and martyrs, shorn of context and background.

51jqmtg52tl-_sx327_bo1204203200_In A Radical Faith, journalist Eileen Markey breathes life back into one of these women, Sister Maura Clarke. Who was this woman in the dirt? What led her to this vicious death so far from home? Maura was raised in a tight-knit Irish immigrant community in Queens, New York, during World War II. She became a missionary as a means to a life outside her small, orderly world and by the 1970s was organizing and marching for liberation alongside the poor of Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Maura’s story offers a window into the evolution of postwar Catholicism: from an inward-looking, protective institution in the 1950s to a community of people grappling with what it meant to live with purpose in a shockingly violent world. At its heart, A Radical Faith is an intimate portrait of one woman’s spiritual and political transformation and her courageous devotion to justice.


Markievicz: A Most Outrageous Rebel by Lindie Naughton


This compelling biography sheds light on all facets of Markievicz’s life – her privileged upbringing in County Sligo, her adventures as an art student in London and Paris, her marriage to an improbable Polish count, her political education, her several prison stretches, and her emergence as one of the pivotal figures in early twentieth-century Ireland.



Rising from Obscurity: Harriet Susannah Ellis by Kim Burkhardt and Brian Ellis

harriet-book-cover-iiHarriet was born in Co. Sligo the day the U.S. Union Army reorganized during the U.S. Civil War – meaning she was born in Yeats Country two years ahead of William Butler Yeats. Ireland’s emerging railroad system allowed her family to move all over Ireland as her Schoolmaster father moved from job to job. She married in Dublin the year James Joyce was born in that city. Her father and her husband’s father had served together as vestryman at their church in Shillelagh when Harriet and her future spouse were yet children. Harriet spent the longest period of her life in Co. Wicklow, principally living in Shillelagh and Carnew from the ages of seven to fifty. She spent forty years raising her ten surviving children (of thirteen born) with her blind spouse (the first child, born just eleven months after her marriage, died two hours after an unattended birth). Stories survive of her reading turn-of-the-century news about the Boer War to an illiterate neighbour in Carnew, Co. Wicklow. She emigrated the year after the Titanic sank (three years before the 1916 uprising). She died the day the Soviets invaded Poland. Two grandsons participated in D-Day, while another participated in the invasion of Japan. (Please note that this is an e-book)

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