Throughout the long history of Irish monasticism, the experience of women monastics has, until recently, been relatively sidelined. A desire to redress this inspired the decision in 2021 to dedicate the fifth Glenstal History Conference to exploring the various ways in which women responded to the monastic and ascetic vocation in medieval and early modern Ireland. Whether as practitioners or as patrons, women found creative and dynamic ways to pursue their calling as ‘Brides of Christ’ between the fifth and the seventeenth centuries, often in the face of tremendous difficulties and challenges. Their lives of prayer and service are sometimes hard to glimpse but the combined interdisciplinary perspectives of these essays brings them into sharper focus. The collection also demonstrates the current vitality of research on this topic and includes contributions by both established and emerging scholars.
Contributors: Tracy Collins (National Monuments Service); Bishop Anne Dyer (diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney); Abbess Máire Hickey OSB (Kylemore Abbey); Elva Johnston (UCD); Colm Lennon (MU); Marian Lyons (MU); Bronagh McShane (NUIG); Colmán Ó Clabaigh OSB (Glenstal Abbey); Dagmar Ó Riain Raedel (ind.); Cathy Swift (Mary Immaculate College, UL); Yvonne Seale (SUNY, Geneseo).
Tracy Collins is an archaeologist with the National Monuments Service and a founding director of Aegis Archaeology Limited, a heritage consultancy. Bronagh Ann McShane is a historian of women, religion and confessionalization. Her book, Irish women in religious orders, 1530–1700, was published in 2022. Martin Browne and Colmán Ó Clabaigh are monks of Glenstal Abbey, Co. Limerick.