Bad Bridget Podcast

The new podcast from Queen's University Belfast & University of Ulster telling the untold stories of generations of Irish women who saw their American Dream become a nightmare.

Released December 2020.

Listen via Apple Podcasts

Intro Episode

In this promotional episode, Dr Elaine Farrell and Dr Leanne McCormick are joined by Derry Girls’ actress, Siobhán McSweeney, to guide you through the laughs, the tears, the prison sentences and the resourcefulness of Irish women in the US over the next five episodes of this new podcast.

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Episode 1: Poverty

Hear how many young Irish girls and women, some as young as 11 or 12, travelled alone to America to escape poverty at home and to earn money for their families.

Listen to how the discrimination and prejudice experienced by the Irish over 150 years ago has similar echoes in today’s society.

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Episode 2: The Sex Workers

Many Irish women travelled to North America, got jobs and sent money home. But perhaps their families did not know where that money came from.

Hear about the Irish women who became sex workers, about wrongful convictions and how much family reputation really mattered to some.

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Episode 3: The Unmarried Mothers

Listen to the stories of girls and women who left Ireland pregnant or became pregnant in North America outside marriage.

Some who migrated from Ireland believed their partners would follow them, only to find themselves alone and thousands of miles from home. Hear how for some women having a baby out of wedlock had tragic consequences.

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Episode 4: The Demon Drink!

The Irish have a long association with alcohol and in this podcast we look at what happened to those Irish women who got into trouble with alcohol abroad.

Those who drank to drown their sorrows, the mothers who neglected their children, and groups of women whose drinking on the streets brought them to court.

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About the project

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, this project led by Leanne McCormick (Ulster University) and Elaine Farrell (Queen’s University Belfast) focuses on the sexually deviant woman, the bad mother and the criminal Irish woman in Boston, New York and Toronto.

The project seeks to explore how and in what ways Irish women were sexually deviant. We consider women’s roles in the sale of sex, including as sex workers and brothel-keepers. We question to what extent and in what ways immigrants failed to live up to the image of the good Irish mother.

Were Irish women migrants involved in illegal practices of abortion and infanticide to the same extent as their counterparts in Ireland? How did a perceived lack of familial support networks impact Irish women’s actions? What determined a ‘bad’ mother? 

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Photo/Image Credit: New York Public Library