This book tells the untold story of the women who were the faces of the British administration in Ireland. As the wives of the country?s viceroys, the vicereines were once the fashionable figureheads of social, cultural and charitable life at Dublin Castle, in the days before Irish independence. Exploring the portraits, papers and personal objects they left behind, this book sets out to recapture their lost legacies.
Fabrics shimmer, flowers blossom and pearls glint in the painted world of the vicereines. But behind these genteel images were activists and advocates who, as the studies in this book reveal, touched almost every facet of Irish life. Campaigns to develop hospitals, relieve poverty, promote Irish fashions, and, remarkably, mitigate what several perceived as the injustices of British rule in Ireland, are just some of their overlooked initiatives. The experiences and papers of the vicereines have much to tell us, not only about official Ireland but also about those whose identities are largely lost to history, such as orphans, artisans and the working poor. Often sympathetic but sometimes apathetic, the contrasting attitudes of the vicereines suggest a fresh, more inclusive reading of the British administration in Ireland, as viewed not only through its men but also its women.
Featuring essays by leading scholars and based on original sources, including diaries and letters, this beautifully illustrated book brings together text and image to create new and illuminating portraits of forgotten women.