Jackson’s ‘Women in 19th Century Irish Emigration’


Nineteenth century Ireland falls neatly into two distinct periods: the period preceding and the period following the great famine of 1845-1849. The emigration of women during and after the famine is examined in this article. Changes in marriage and the spread of dowries is analyzed to distinguish between the roles of married and unmarried women. Options other than emigration are highlighted insofar as they constituted “choices” for women which avoided the decision, taken by some two million women, to leave their island home by emigrating.

–Provided by Author


This article explores a variety of connections between the Great Famine and Irish female migration, paying particular attention to wider changes in the country’s economy and the resultant changes in its society. The piece is very wide in its remit, and raises a good range of questions, challenging assumptions about the causal relationships between economic shifts, societal norms and out-migration in an engaging manner. However, the breadth of the piece does not allow for significant depth of evidence or analysis; it raises questions but does not seek to fully answer them. More importantly, it does not provide significant coverage of pre-famine Ireland. Its statistical evidence is conspicuously post-1841 and only vague reference is given to Georgian norms. Thus, the contrasts it hopes to highlight remain shadowy. Nonetheless, it may be particularly useful as a reading for undergraduates, as it provides a flowing discussion that will prompt solid discussion on a variety of themes and concepts.

May Be Useful To Those Studying

  • The Great Famine
  • Female emigration
  • Irish emigration
  • Irish marriage patterns
  • Malthusian economics


Jackson, Pauline. “Women in 19th Century Irish Emigration.” International Migration Review 18, no. 4 (December 1, 1984): 1004–1020.

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