Vona Groarke, Elaine Farrell and Leanne McCormick in conversation with Nuala O’Connor

Bad Bridget: Crime, Mayhem and the Lives of Irish Emigrant Women is the astonishing product of years of meticulous work in various archives by leading historians Elaine Farrell and Leanne McCormick. It tells the stories of Irish women who sought new lives in North America becoming involved in crime of all sorts: from crimes of passion and opportunity, to calculated and daring acts of transgression. Despite its basis in thorough academic research, it is an accessible work that became an instant best-seller in Ireland.

Acclaimed poet Vona Groake’s most recent book is Hereafter: The Telling Life of Ellen O’Hara, an innovative blend of poetry, fiction and history that reflects on the life of her great-grandmother, a emigrant Irish woman in the latter part of the nineteenth-century. Colm Tóibín described the new book as ‘a groundbreaking way of investigating a traumatic period in history, not only Irish history, but American history too.’

Duration 1 hour

Historians Elaine Farrell & Leanne McCormick are co-creators of the Bad Bridget Project, which explores the stories of sexually deviant women, bad mothers and criminal Irish women in Boston, New York and Toronto. Their book Bad Bridget: Crime, Mayhem and the Lives of Irish Emigrant Women (Sandycove, 2023) is the culmination of five years of research. 

Vona Groarke is a poet, essayist, editor and critic, current poet in residence at St. John’s College, University of Cambridge. Her latest book, Hereafter: The Telling Life of Ellen O’Hara (New York University Press, 2022), combines poetry, prose and historical archives to put together the life of an Irish woman in New York at the end of the 19th century.

Nuala O’Connor is a writer from Dublin. In 2022, she was awarded the Irish Short Story of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards for her story ‘This Small Giddy Life’. Her fifth novel NORA (Harper Perennial/New Island, 2021), about the life of Nora Barnacle, wife and muse to James Joyce, was named as a Top 10 2021 historical novel by the New York Times and was the One Dublin One Book choice for 2022. 

Event Location

Nuns Island Theatre

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