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New Irish Works: Fallen Women

Fallen Women
Emer Gillespie

32 pages
148×210 mm
ISBN: 9780995701861

The severe and judgmental attitudes towards women who became pregnant outside of marriage permeated the ethos of virtually all Church and State agencies in 20th century Ireland. Church and State were bound in their conceptualisation of unmarried motherhood as degenerate and sinful. The tragic outcome of this is that generations of mothers and babies were forced apart.

As an unmarried mother at the age of 21 in the Ireland of 2002, Gillespie had the choice to keep her daughter. But in 1975, for her mother, then aged 20, there was no choice and she was forced to give her son up for adoption shortly after his birth. A similar story can be told of two more of her aunts, one as recently as 1985. Stirred by the secrecy and concealment of these events within her own family, and inspired by an emerging familial and societal consciousness of the experiences of unmarried mothers and their children, this project seeks to recognise, respect, listen to and hear from those women our society so entirely failed.