Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of History

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 427 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Nadieszda Kizenko

Committee Members

Patrick J Nold, Richard S Fogarty, Christine Kinealy


Anglo-Irish, British, Catholic, Cusack, Feminism, Irish nationalism, Nuns, Women, Nationalism

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature | European History | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Margaret Anna Cusack, later Sister Mary Frances Clare, and also known as Mother Clare, (6 May 1829 - 5 June 1899) was an Anglo-Irish Protestant who became a Catholic Nun and the foundress of a still existent Catholic religious order, the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. She was also a vociferous champion for the poor, for Irish political rights, for Irish nationalism, and was the first Irish nationalist woman historian and a prolific writer who wrote more than one hundred works. She was a radical, a revolutionary, a champion and hero, a source of conflict and a rallying cry, and some of her contemporaries considered her to be a hero or saint. Despite her successes, she was criticized as well for her radical beliefs and felt persecuted by many ecclesiastics. Due to disagreements with several ecclesiastics, she eventually left her order and the Catholic Church entirely. Her influence waned and she was forgotten by the Irish people in general and by the sisters of her own order. Yet, without Cusack, understanding of nineteenth-century Irish nationalism, religious and social reform movements and feminism is incomplete. Cusack's work took place in a transitional time of discussion about the future self-government of Ireland as well as the needs for social and religious reform for the Irish people, especially the poor and women. What her contemporaries responded positively and negatively to help us to understand Cusack's treatment and historical legacy and also the limits of religious, political and social reform.