Finding faint voices from the past: women, crime and the nineteenth-century Irish female convict prison
The Irish Female Convict Prison housed all the girls and women from across the island of Ireland who had been sentenced to three years or more behind bars. Based on the monograph, Women, crime and punishment in Ireland: life in the nineteenth-century convict prison (National University of Ireland prizewinner, 2021), this paper offers an account of the individuals who crossed the threshold of the female convict prison. It considers their backgrounds and circumstances at the point of conviction, as well as their crimes and punishments. The paper particularly focuses on mother-of-seven Mary Enright, who entered and left the convict prison on several occasions across the late nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. As this paper demonstrates, Enright's case offers an insight into the poverty of the time, the effect a lack of resources could have on women's lives and the lives of those around them, and the harsh realities of motherhood and fractured family relationships in urban Ireland.