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Talk of population

The clergy and emigration in principle

Sarah Roddy

This chapter assesses how members of the clergy regarded emigration as an economic principle. That Ireland's problems could be dispensed with alongside a portion of its population became a common belief in the depressed decades following the Anglo-French wars. In the 1820s and 1830s, there were both Protestant and Catholic clergy who were in principle in favour of state encouragement of emigration, though often for very different reasons. It should be noted that the Congested Districts Board, with which both Catholic and Protestant clergy closely co-operated, undertook migration and wasteland reclamation in the 1890s, but not without considerable difficulty and expense. A majority of all clergy in the 1830s believed that emigration could form part of the solution to Ireland's problems and were open to its encouragement, direction or organisation, whether by the state or by private bodies.

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The spiritual empire at home

Emigration and the spread of Irish religious influence

Sarah Roddy

The idea that mass migration from nineteenth-century Ireland created an Irish 'empire' has had enduring appeal. Yet as many historians of Ireland, its diaspora and particularly the Irish Catholic Church have noted, the existence of a peculiarly Irish 'spiritual empire' was widely spoken of even as the country's ports remained choked with emigrants. A merging of Irish migration and religious history demands a more detailed and focused treatment of what was a long-running and widespread facet of the clerical discussion of emigration. This chapter looks at the set of ideas that lay behind the concept of a special emigrants' mission. It then traces the development of its expression and any challenges to it, including parallel evocations of the concept from Irish Protestant clergy. The chapter examines some important practical consequences of emigration and the 'spiritual empire' for the Irish churches.

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‘Scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd’

The pastoral responses of the Irish churches to emigration

Sarah Roddy

From an Irish clergyman's point of view, by far the worst of the iniquities facing migrants was the perceived threat to their faith. Reports of nativist attacks on churches in the United States, for example, may have prompted 'gasconade, froth, foam and fury' in the Irish Catholic press, but the churches that had yet to be built were the real barriers to incoming migrants' religious participation. While the notion that mass emigration from Ireland began in the 1840s is certainly outmoded, it would seem that the formal, organised involvement of the Irish churches in the religious care of diaspora communities was largely a mid-nineteenth century phenomenon. Irish Anglicans who emigrated before 1815 were the best served as far as spiritual matters were concerned, benefitting from an organisation that was specifically dedicated to sending clergy to their destinations.

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Jane Brooks

The chapter maps the nursing practices on active service overseas that recovered men including, body care, feeding work, the management of pain and support for the dying. These four areas of nursing practice are commonly associated with nursing work, yet, as the chapter argues, in war zones, they demanded complex gendered negotiations. Comfort care placed the single female nurse too close to the naked male body and feeding work was allied to mothering, rather than professional practice. In the absence of sufficient medical officers in a war zone, pain relief demanded the development of scientific skills of diagnosis and prescription. The chapter examines how the nurses managed these contradictions to develop an understanding of the critical role of fundamental nursing care and create a space for themselves as experts by the bedside.

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Jane Brooks

The chapter considers the civilian world into which the Q.A.s returned at the end of the war and explores the options they faced. It begins with the immediate aftermath of war and the opportunities for interesting and worthwhile work that would only exacerbate the nursing sisters’ difficulties on demobilisation. This is followed by a consideration of the return to Britain and the options open for professional practice. The chapter argues that for some the option of interesting work remained, either in the colonial service or the military. However the main professional opening for returning nurses was the crisis ridden civilian hospital system that wanted and recruited cheap, malleable workers; this was not an attractive choice for demobbed nursing sisters. The chapter argues that despite nursing being a female dominated profession, the ideology that encouraged women to return to the home in the aftermath of war had significant ramifications for demobilised nurses. The social structure precluded married women from working outside the home and funds for postgraduate training available to returning male doctors were not offered to nurses. As the chapter maintains, most nursing sisters married, leaving the profession without their considerable talents and new ways of practicing.

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Population, providence and empire

The churches and emigration from nineteenth-century Ireland

Sarah Roddy

The book knits together two of the most significant themes in the social and cultural history of modern Ireland - mass emigration and religious change - and aims to provide fresh insight into both. It addresses the churches' responses to emigration, both in theory and in practice. The book also assesses how emigration impacted on the churches both in relation to their status in Ireland, and in terms of their ability to spread their influence abroad. It first deals with the theoretical positions of the clergy of each denomination in relation to emigration and how they changed over the course of the nineteenth century, as the character of emigration itself altered. It then explores the extent of practical clerical involvement in the temporal aspects of emigration. This includes attempts to prevent or limit it, a variety of facilitation services informally offered by parish clergymen, church-backed moves to safeguard emigrant welfare, clerical advice-giving and clerically planned schemes of migration. Irish monks between the fifth and eighth centuries had spread Christianity all over Europe, and should act as an inspiration to the modern cleric. Tied in with this reading of the past, of course, was a very particular view of the present: the perception that emigration represented the enactment of a providential mission to spread the faith.

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Jane Brooks

Military success in war was contingent on men sustaining a determination to fight. Persuading men to continue fighting or returning them to combat after illness or injury depended on maintaining their morale. The use of female nurses in upholding this resolve was integral to the war effort. The chapter explores the value of the presence of women in hospital wards and in social environments on active service overseas. It considers the occasional antipathy of military authorities and male colleagues to the location of female nurses in war zones. However, it is argued through the provision of expert clinical care, domestic acumen and the use of their ‘female-selves’, nurses were able to salvage men in readiness to return to battle. Nursing sisters thus created a space for themselves in frontline duties. However, the chapter argues, this was not without its difficulties. As single, white women in far-flung places, this position situated nurses in a liminal place between the respectable European colonial wife and the ‘biohazardous’ local women. The chapter acknowledges these difficulties, but also demonstrates how the nurses negotiated their way through these contradictions to their advantage and for those in their care.

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Jane Brooks

The chapter examines the changes to the dominion of nursing work on active service overseas. The chapter first explores the extensions to the nursing role, most particularly the care of wounds and burns. This is followed by a discussion of the expansion of nursing duties into those that had hitherto been the domain of medicine. These roles include the commencement and management of blood transfusions, surgical work and anaesthesia. Finally the chapter considers ‘new work’, the most critical of which was the administration and use of penicillin. The constantly shifting requirements of war nursing prevented Army nurses from remaining in a professional comfort zone of accepted roles and regimes. The experience of living with uncertainty may have caused anxieties for some, but the active participation in new treatment modalities suggests that nurses who went to war were keen to move beyond the normal boundaries of nursing practice and many relished the opportunity to do so. The chapter argues that the developments in practice and the increased confidence nursing sisters displayed with this new work altered their working relationships with medical officers from one of deference to one of collegiality, enabling more productive decisions for their soldier-patients’ care.

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Negotiating nursing

British Army sisters and soldiers in the Second World War

Jane Brooks

Negotiating nursing explores how the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (Q.A.s) salvaged men within the sensitive gender negotiations of what should and could constitute nursing work and where that work could occur. The book argues that the Q.A.s, an entirely female force during the Second World War, were essential to recovering men physically, emotionally and spiritually from the battlefield and for the war, despite concerns about their presence on the frontline. The book maps the developments in nurses’ work as the Q.A.s created a legitimate space for themselves in war zones and established nurses’ position as the expert at the bedside. Using a range of personal testimony the book demonstrates how the exigencies of war demanded nurses alter the methods of nursing practice and the professional boundaries in which they had traditionally worked, in order to care for their soldier-patients in the challenging environments of a war zone. Although they may have transformed practice, their position in war was highly gendered and it was gender in the post-war era that prevented their considerable skills from being transferred to the new welfare state, as the women of Britain were returned to the home and hearth. The aftermath of war may therefore have augured professional disappointment for some nursing sisters, yet their contribution to nursing knowledge and practice was, and remains, significant.

Open Access (free)

Sarah Roddy

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book examines the impact of emigration on the churches by exploring the consequences and potential consequences of mass population loss for each communion. It explores the theme of religious interpretations of the outflow by addressing a commonly referenced but only rarely scrutinised belief in emigration as a divinely dictated mission to spread Christianity across the globe, and consequent conceptions of an Irish 'spiritual empire'. The book relies for evidence on careful use of literary sources, the accounts of visitors to and travellers in Ireland, clerically authored pamphlets, parliamentary reports and manuscript material from religious archives. It surveys each of the Presbyterian, Anglican and Catholic churches practical religious involvement in the lives of emigrants, and in particular, the systematic provision of clergy by the home churches to emigrant communities.