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Book Details

Published by Royal Irish Academy

August 2022


Number of pages: 244

ISBN: 9781911479833


PDF icon ai_sisters.pdf

Nine families of sisters who made a difference

Nine writers trace the public and private lives of nine sets of sisters. Artists, publishers, writers, educationalists, philanthropists, revolutionaries, suffragists — thinkers all. Independent women with hopes and ideals who overcame barriers, even within their own families, to their participation in public life. Their stories have often been overlooked by the mainstream historical record. These essays take readers on a journey through the centuries from the 1600s to the turbulent years of the independence struggle in 1900s Ireland and uncover the influence, support and rivalries of family.

Listen back to our series of lunchtime lectures here:

The nine sets of sisters featured in the book are the following:
Nualaidh, Máire and Mairghréad Ó Domhnaill 
Alice, Sara, Lettice, Joan, Katherine, Dorothy and Mary Boyle - Read an extract here
Katherine, Jane and Mary Conyngham 
Deborah, Margaret, Mary and Sarah Shackleton 
Lady Sydney Morgan and Lady Olivia Clarke (Attend lecture 10th Nov 2022)
Anna and Fanny Parnell - Read an extract here
Constance and Eva Gore-Booth 
Susan and Elizabeth Yeats
Hanna, Margaret, Mary and Kathleen Sheehy - Read an extract here


In the press:

Say it for the sisterhood - Gemma Tipton, Irish Times Magazine, Saturday, 20 August 2022

Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin sang about them, and now a new book celebrates the stories of sisters throughout Irish history who, although often unsung themselves, made a world of difference. From Nualaidh and her sisters, Máire and Mairghréad, the daughters of Aodh Ó Domhnaill and An Inghean Dubh; to the Sheehy Skeffington sisters, via Gore-Booths, Yeatses and Parnells, there's lots to explore. Sisters, edited by Siobhán Fitzpatrick and Mary O'Dowd, is an academic tome, so expect footnotes, but it is also an enthralling read.

Read an extract of Sisters in IMAGE's Book Club and interview with Siobhán Fitzpatrick and Mary O'Dowd in Authors' Bookshelves


History Ireland

Review by Mary Kenny


Sisters of some significance - Paul Clements, The Ticket, The Irish Times, Saturday, 19 November 2022

...considers the diversity of roles that the women held, whether artists and philanthropists or suffragists and revolutionaries. There is a considerable amount to unravel, including family rivalries and tension between siblings 


Dublin Review of Books, November 2022

History, or His Story, has been written so exclusively by men and about men ‑ this war, that war, this economy, that economy, who’s wearing what crown etc, etc that it’s wonderful to witness the trickle of Her Story, of bringing women back into the narrative, turning into a flood. All hail then 'Sisters'...

Review by Rosita Sweetman Their Story

Buy the eBook here

About the authors

Siobhán Fitzpatrick

Siobhán Fitzpatrick held the position of Librarian to the Academy until April 2020. She has co-edited several monographs on antiquarian and bibliographical themes and has written on science publication in Ireland and on aspects of the Academy's manuscript and print collections. 

Siobhán has served as President of the Library Association of Ireland and as Hon. General Secretary of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. She is a past chair of CONUL (the Consortium of National & University Libraries).

Mary O'Dowd

Mary O'Dowd is Emeritus Professor in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics History at Queen's University Belfast. Her research interests focus on gender and social history in early modern Ireland. She was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2010 and is currently the Secretary for Polite Literature and Antiquities/Humanities in the Academy.