This book opens the doors of the Country House (or the Big House as it is often referred to) to reveal the lives of three generations of women among the Irish ascendancy. Like the triple portrait of Mabel O’Brien on the front cover of the book – which depicts her as wife, mother, and society woman – these women carried out many important roles within these houses. Through the dutiful private roles of wife, sister, daughter, mother, these women contributed to the public success of their family and estate. Their marriages forged important social links, and their home duties ensured that the family residence was a centre of prestige.
Drawing on personal records, Maeve O’Riordan gives unprecedented insights into the lives of women among the privileged landed class at a time of change for their class, as Land Acts removed much of their power, and of their sex, as the vote for women became an ever closer reality. O’Riordan gives space to these women’s voices, and we can see their efforts to maintain their family status while managing the limited roles available to women at the time. This book invites readers to step into the Country House and, for the first time, get to know the women who lived within their grand drawing rooms.
Maeve O’Riordan is Lecturer in Women’s and Cultural History at the School of History, University College Cork.
239 x 163 mm
May 31, 2018