A short selection this week

Our selection this week takes us to the Soviet Union, Palestine, back to Cork city and then finally to the horrors of the Famine in Skibbereen.

The Irish in the USSR is the first of a series of films on the theme of ‘Hidden Histories of the Irish Abroad’, produced by Epic: the Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin. Epic’s historian Maurice Casey is the presenter.

On the Irish Story website, Seán William Gannon looks at the fascinating Irish connections to the Palestine Police from the early 1920s until the British withdrawal in 1948.

Our friends at Nano Nagle Place opened a new exhibition this week called ‘Small Lives: at Home in Cork in 1920’ which is really worth a visit (see image below). They have also put on their website an interesting lecture by Michael Lenihan on The Burning of Cork. We have been doing joint programming and marketing with Nano Nagle and St Peter’s Cork this year on the theme of #Cork1920. St Peter’s have their own fantastic exhibition on the Burning.

And finally, a moving film made by the Skibbereen Heritage Centre and presented by Philip O’Regan, which looks at the tragic story of Widow Lynch and her children who briefly lived, and died, on Skibbereen’s Windmill Lane during the Famine.

Our regular round-up of historical content online

A blog post on Damian Shiels’ always fascinating Irish-American Civil War website caught our eye after he re-posted it on Twitter – Looking Into the Face of A Dying Irish Soldier. Actually it’s the photos that are initially so striking, telling the moving story of John Ruddy, an Irishman who was wounded fighting for the Union side in 1865 and subsequently died from his wounds three years later. As Shiels comments “the photos offer a rare opportunity to look into the face of one of the thousands of Irish emigrants who died in the American Civil War.”

The photo reproduced above comes from the US National Museum of Health and Medicine.

Two articles in the Irish Times on very different topics jumped out at us in the past week. The first made the bold claim that sexuality was freer under British rule than after independence. The authors, Maria Luddy and Mary O’Dowd have just published a book on Marriage in Ireland, 1660-1926 (Cambridge University Press). Might be a good topic for discussion at our next history festival.

Secondly, a really interesting article by Manchán Magan in which he describes West Cork as Ireland’s only “outstanding example of a genuine “creative hotspot” – a place so teeming with artists, craftspeople and innovators that it somehow defined the essence of the area and led to the birth of an entire movement of artistic excellence.”

The Cork Public Museum has a new exhibition (delayed by COVID-19) called “Suffering the Most – the Life and Times of Tomas Mac Curtain and Terence MacSwiney” which tells the story of Cork City’s first two Republican Lord Mayors. It was opened by the Taoiseach, himself a former Lord Mayor of Cork. Worth a visit, or there is an online version of the exhibition here.

And finally, our local paper The Southern Star published this article about its own history during the revolutionary period by Alan McCarthy. He has just written a book on Newspapers and Journalism in Cork, 1910-23: Press, Politics and Revolution (Four Courts Press). The Skibbereen Eagle is also included, and their rivalry covered – the Eagle was eventually bought out by the Star in 1929.


Our not-quite-weekly round up

Slightly longer than a week since our last round-up but never mind – links to lots of interesting historical content below. Plus, don’t forget that our 2020 digital Festival is all available on this website to watch and listen to as often as you like, along with all the talks from our real life Festivals in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

The very good monthly Ports, Past and Present newsletter (to which you can subscribe via their website) had an article by James L. Smith on whales washed up on the Wexford coast. The skeleton of one, a blue whale found in 1891, now has pride of place in the Natural History Museum in London.

An interesting article by Brian Hanley on RTE’s Century Ireland website on why Irish revolutionaries had to go global.

Turtle Bunbury had a more personal story to tell – but with an equally global flavour – in this post on his blog about the Rudall and Halpin families which spans South Africa, Australia, Cornwall and Co Cavan. You can also see Turtle in conversation with festival co-founder Simon Kingston as part of our 2020 digital Festival here.

Manchán Magan has a new book out entitled Thirty-Two Words for Field: Lost Words of the Irish Landscape which sounds fascinating – read a review in the Independent and another in the Irish Times. It has illustrations by the brilliant Steve Doogan, with whom Festival co-founder Victoria Kingston worked on the new exhibition at Bru na Boinne in Co Meath.

Finally the Dublin Festival of History kicks off on Friday – a link to their programme is here, with lots of interesting events. And also in Dublin there is a new exhibition at the City Assembly House by Peter Murray, Festival contributor and former director of the Crawford in Cork. Called ‘Saving Graces’ it celebrates 20 years of conservation projects supported by the Irish Georgian Society. Find out more on the IGS website.



Our weekly selection

There have been a number of articles and exhibitions recently about Cork and Ulster in 1920 – for our digital festival Professor Brian Walker explored the interconnected violence between them, which you can watch here. There is an excellent online exhibition at the Lisburn Museum about the ‘Swanzy Riots’ of 1920, in which many of the Catholic inhabitants of the town were forced to flee. This followed the killing in Lisburn of Oswald Swanzy, which was in retaliation for the killing of Tomas MacCurtain in Cork.

In the Irish Story’s latest podcast, John Dorney explores Ireland’s role in the Second World War with Joseph Quinn of the UK National Archives.

Desmond Guinness, a pioneer in the conservation of Ireland’s architectural heritage and co-founder of the Irish Georgian Society. Here is how the Irish Times reported his death, and also a more personal tribute from the ‘Irish Aesthete’.

Finally can we recommend the Twitter account of Nigel Monaghan, Keeper of the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History (aka Dublin’s Dead Zoo) who is @KeeperNH – he has been recording the dismantling and packing of the Museum’s collections in advance of a refurbishment. The Museum is shown below in all its 19th century splendour.


Our weekly round-up

Of course the best history available at the moment to watch and listen to is our 2020 digital Festival, which is right here on our website. And we got some great coverage in the Southern Star as well. If you are in Cork city, can we recommend visits to two organisations with whom we have partnered this year on #Cork1920 – St Peter’s Cork who have a brilliant exhibition on about the Burning of Cork in 1920 and Nano Nagle Place?

And if you’ve done all of that, here is some other interesting content which caught our eye.

The Dublin Review republished a fascinating article on Sir Oswald Mosley’s connections with Ireland – including living for a while in Fermoy.

In the Irish Times, the extraordinary story of Dr Aidan McCarthy who survived Dunkirk, a Japanese POW camp and the atomic bombing of Nagasaki …. and his family’s pub in Castletownbere, which might not survive Covid-19.

And on a completely different subject, but also in the Irish Times, Frank McNally on Ireland’s relationship with cricket.

And finally, good to see Festival contributor Richard Butler’s book reviewed so positively recently. It is a very interesting but also beautifully produced book which the reviewer describes as “a feat of historical and architectural detective work.”



Our 2020 digital (mini) Festival

Our digital (mini) Festival will be free-to-view on our website from Saturday 8 August. We aim to provide some of the elements that would have been part of the physical festival, based around two themes – the events of 1920 in Cork and Ireland & Empire. All of these are pre-recorded and no log-in is required.

On the theme of 1920 in Cork, we will have:

Dr Eve Morrison of St Catherine’s College Oxford on the Kilmichael Ambush, about which she is writing a new book to be published in November. In her talk, Eve discusses the interviews on which historian Peter Hart based his important, if controversial work, on the subject.

Professor Brian Walker of Queen’s University Belfast on inter-connected violence in Cork and Ulster in 1920 touching on, among others, the connected murders of Tomás Mac Curtain and Oswald Swanzy

West Cork-based historian Kieran Doyle in conversation with Festival co-founder Simon Kingston about Kieran’s project to map memorials of the Revolutionary Period across the county of Cork

a film about the burning of Cork, commissioned by St Peter’s in Cork city which is currently hosting an exhibition on the burning

In addition, we have a specially-commissioned History Ireland Hedge School podcast on Ireland, Empire and the Sea, chaired by History Ireland’s editor Tommy Graham. The panel includes Lar Joye of the Dublin Port Authority – which is sponsoring the Hedge School – alongside Dr Aoife Bhreatnach, Professor Claire Connolly from UCC and Dr David Murphy from Maynooth. The theme of Ireland & Empire is something we hope to develop further at our 2021 Festival.

We also have historian and writer Turtle Bunbury in conversation with Simon about Turtle’s book Ireland’s Forgotten Past: A History of the Overlooked and Disremembered.

We are already making plans for our 2021 Festival and look forward to seeing you in person then !

Our weekly round up

Here’s our weekly round up of interesting historical content – lots to read and listen to. There won’t be a round up next weekend as on Saturday 8 August we have here on our website our digital (mini) Festival with specially recorded talks and discussions. Find out more here.

In the Irish Times, historian and archivist Catriona Crowe wrote about the power of archives. She used the examples of the archives of the Irish industrial school system and the records of the adoption of Irish children in the United States from mother and baby homes to illustrate how crucial it is to preserve, properly catalogue and make these records available.

Three Castle Burning is a regular podcast that looks at aspects of Dublin’s social history and this podcast ‘From the Liberties to Lagos: Guinness and Nigeria‘ tells the story of the internationalisation of Guinness.  It links to Ireland & Empire, a theme we are touching on in our 2020 digital Festival and hope to explore further in 2021.

Novelist Kathleen MacMahon wrote a wonderful article in the Guardian last week on so-called “quiet” Irish women writers. Her grandmother, Mary Lavin, was one of the first women to feature in a poster of Ireland’s great writers. Having read all her grandmother’s work, MacMahon concludes that “.. if Ireland found these subjects quiet, Ireland needed its hearing adjusted.”

Another literary feature, this one in the Irish Times, was entitled ‘Mobilise the poets’. John Gibney described the origins of Irish cultural diplomacy – the quote comes from Arthur Griffith writing from prison in 1919.

And finally, a really interesting opinion piece by Dr Gillian O’Brien from Liverpool John Moores University on RTE Brainstorm about government policy towards culture and heritage.  




A fortnightly round up ….

Last week’s round up was rather delayed so we thought instead we’d do a longer fortnightly round up – some really interesting reads and listens below.

Festival contributor Claire Connolly of UCC wrote in the Irish Times about the power of literature in a time of global pandemic. We are looking forward to hearing Claire’s contribution to our digital festival, as part of a History Hedge School on Ireland, Empire and the Sea. This will be on our website from 8 August and via History Ireland.

On a related topic of pandemics (unavoidable really), The Irish Story’s most recent podcast is about how the terrible Sligo cholera epidemic in 1832 inspired Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula. Stoker’s mother Charlotte Thornley survived the epidemic and told her son stories of that time. We have previously posted a link to an article on the London Library’s website about the books Stoker consulted in that library while researching the same book.

In the Irish Times earlier in the month Marie Coleman of QUB discussed events in the north a century ago. 21 July 2020 marked 100 years since the beginning of the expulsion of an estimated 7000 workers from Belfast’s shipyards and other manufacturing industries in the city – all these workers were Catholics or socialists. The Irish Story also had an article on the violence in Belfast in July 1920.

On the theme of the revolutionary period, RTE Radio 1 broadcast a fascinating documentary on 18 July – The Little Shop of Secrets – about Nora and Sheila Wallace, whose newsagents shop in Cork City played a crucial role in the War of Independence in Cork.

The Ports Past and Present project, partly based in UCC, always has interesting material on its blog. This article by Elizabeth Edwards caught our eye, looking at the experience of women crossing between Ireland and Wales. Mary Wollstonecraft had a calm crossing from Holyhead to Dublin in 1786 and found herself lost in a sea of thoughts. The crossing was a less positive, and sometimes positively dangerous, time for others who feature in the article.

Over the summer the Dictionary of Irish Biography has been highlighting individual stories by theme – so far they have had rogues and now they are focusing on explorers. Those featured include aviator Lady Heath (pictured below), astronomer Annie Maunder, William Lamport, apparently the inspiration for Zorro and Thomas Heazle Parke, who was the first Irishman to cross Africa and once “saved a man’s life by sucking arrow poison from his wound”. How could you not want to read more here ?!

And finally, RTE Brainstorm had an article on the always intriguing topic of Sheela-na-Gigs, mysterious medieval carvings of female figures with prominent vulvas and breasts, which are found in Ireland, Britain and continental Europe.

WCHF weekly selection

Fergal Keane, who was scheduled to speak at our Festival this year, had an interesting piece on BBC Radio 4’s flagship morning news programme Today last week about the Munster plantations. Click here and you can find it at 2:45:51. He also wrote about his family and the complex legacies of empire on the BBC website.

On the subject of empire, History Ireland re-posted a fascinating article from 2007 on the Irish and the Atlantic slave trade which is worth reading in the light of current discussions about how slavery, and more broadly black history, is represented (or not).

And from the British empire to the Russian empire, History Today had a feature on Cork-born Eleanor Cavanagh. Her letters home from Russia, where her job as a lady’s maid took her in the early 19th century, are amongst the first published Irish accounts of Russia.

Joe Cleary’s article in the Irish Times last week about Irish writers and writing in the 1920s claimed that it was “surely the greatest single decade in Irish writing in English”. Discuss.

Finally for this week, the Michael Collins House in Clonakilty has some really interesting podcasts on its website – including podcasts on Collins himself, the War of Independence and the Civil War. However, we particularly enjoyed Episode 9, by Dr Alan McCarthy, about The Skibbereen Eagle. The newspaper was published in Skibbereen between 1857-1922 and 1926-1929 and became “one of the most famous local newspapers in the world”.


Our weekly round up

Yesterday was Independence Day in the US – to mark the occasion why not listen to ‘Declaring Independence: America 1776, Ireland 1919’, a talk from last year’s Festival given by Dan Mulhall, Irish Ambassador to the US?

Alternatively, you could read this fascinating article by historian Damian Shiels, re-posted from his archive, about John Dunlap, the printer of the Declaration of Independence, who was born in Strabane, Co Tyrone. The image below is from Damian’s website.

And in the week that Micheál Martin became Taoiseach, Festival contributor Ronan McGreevy looked into Martin’s family history in an article in the Irish Times. Micheál Martin has himself attended the West Cork History Festival twice, last year chairing a number of sessions for us.

And finally something completely different – an online exhibition about Irish architect and designer Eileen Gray. The physical exhibition, at the Bard Graduate Gallery in New York, opened in February and was due to finish this week, but has obviously been closed since lockdown. Gray (pictured below) was a pioneering modernist, designer, architect, painter and photographer, whose life spanned nearly a century – she was born in Wexford in 1898 and died in Paris in 1976.


The new Taoiseach & the West Cork History Festival

Congratulations to Micheál Martin on his appointment as Taoiseach. He has been a supporter and contributor to the West Cork History Festival and is pictured below at our 2018 Festival. The first photo shows him with Lar Joye, formerly of the National Museum of Ireland and now at the Dublin Port Authority and Festival co-founder Simon Kingston. The second photo shows him with Professor Louise Ryan, at the time at the University of Sheffield and now at London Metropolitan University.

Our weekly historical miscellany

The Irish archaeological story of the year was published by Nature magazine last week. Genetic analysis by researchers at TCD showed that an adult male from the Neolithic period whose body was found inside Newgrange was the product of first degree incest. This may indicate he came from a ruling social elite who married within their own deified royal families in a similar way to Egyptian pharaohs. The Irish Times reported the story here.

Nature’s cover photograph of Newgrange was taken by Ken Williams, whose fantastic images of the monuments and landscapes of the Boyne Valley, and many other prehistoric sites, can be seen on his website. Festival co-founder Victoria Kingston worked with both Ken Williams, and Dr Lara Cassidy and Professor Dan Bradley from TCD who led the DNA research, when she curated the new exhibition at the Bru na Boinne visitor centre that opened last year. The visitor centre interprets Newgrange and its sister sites of Knowth and Dowth.

Much more recent history now: 22 June marked 100 years since the IRA’s assassination of Sir Henry Wilson outside his London home – he was the most senior British military figure to die during the revolutionary period. The Irish Story wrote about the event on their blog.

Another story from 1920, this time focused on Cork. On 26 June British officer Cuthbert Lucas, who commanded the garrison at Fermoy, was kidnapped by the IRA while fishing on the Blackwater River. He was help captive for 34 days but became friends with those guarding him, playing bridge with them and drinking whiskey they supplied him with. The letters between Lucas and his wife, along with his diary kept secretly in captivity, have now been digitised and made available by his granddaughter. The Irish Times coverage of the story is here, and the website featuring the letters between Cuthbert and Poppy Lucas is here.

16 June was Bloomsday, and MOLI (the Museum of Literature Ireland, in Dublin) released a beautiful short film ‘A New day will be’ featuring readings of lines from Ulysses in multiple languages. It was developed in association with the Department of Foreign Affairs and can be seen via YouTube.

And finally, a few weeks ago we pointed our readers to some excellent online talks on the website of the London Library. This week, we are recommending an online talk from Belfast’s Linen Hall Library – Alice Johnson discussing her fascinating research on middle-class Belfast in the 19th century.


Weekly selection

Our selection is a little later than usual – we’ve been busy planning digital content to go up on our website the weekend the Festival should have been…. (7-9 August):

There has been lots of media coverage this past week of the RTE programme Hawks and Doves, in which former British cabinet minister Michael Portillo looked at the War of Independence from the British perspective, including this article by Festival contributor Ronan McGreevy who was involved in the documentary. It’s available to watch on RTE Player.

Skibbereen Heritage Centre has been making some excellent films about local history during lockdown, including this on Aughadown Graveyard. Individuals buried here link this quiet graveyard to the Famine, the Battle of the Boyne and Kilmichael. William Casey, who is featured in the film, spoke at our 2018 Festival on cilliní (unconsecrated burial sites) in West Cork – you can hear his talk here.

The Irish History Show has a great podcast – mixing history, architecture and social policy – in which Ruth McManus, associate professor of geography at Dublin City University, discussed public housing in 20th century Dublin. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Dublin’s slums were regarded as amongst the worst in Europe – interestingly Belfast’s housing was much better. Lots of other podcasts via this site too.

In The Irish Times Maurice Casey, historian-in-residence at Epic the Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin’s Docklands, told the story of John O’Reilly from Thurles in Tipperary. O’Reilly went to fight in the Spanish Civil War and married Salaria Kea, an African-American nurse – they are pictured below. The couple eventually settled in the US.

Photograph from The Irish Times/Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

Weekly round up

Festival contributor Ronan McGreevy wrote in the Irish Times about links between Ireland and the slave trade, in the context of the targeting in the UK of statues of individuals associated with slave trading.

From 19th century statues to 19th century stuffed animals… the blog of the CSHIHE (Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses & Estates) at Maynooth University had an interesting post recently by Annie Tindley on Taxidermy and the Country House. We also enjoyed another post, by Terence Dooley, on The Power of Ruins.

The National Archives holds a fascinating database for the Property Losses (Ireland) Committee, established in 1916 to assess claims for damages to buildings and property as a result of the Easter Rising. You can search the database here – it includes the claim below from stained glass artist and book illustrator Harry Clarke for cover designs and illustrations destroyed by a fire at publishers Maunsel & Company, based at 86, Abbey Street Middle in Dublin. A payment of £30 was recommended by the committee.

The Dictionary of Irish Biography has put together a selection of ‘rogues’ from the 9000 lives it contains, including Anne Bonney one of the most famous female pirates, who was born in Cork.




Weekly update of articles to read and films to watch

The Irish Times published another of its excellent Decade of Centenaries supplements this week, this one looking at 1920. Articles that particularly caught our eye were Festival contributor Andy Bielenberg’s piece on the contested and difficult subject of ‘disappearances’ by the IRA, many of which took place in Cork, Linda Connolly writing about violence against women during the revolutionary period, as well as Brendan O’Shea on the burning of Cork in December 1920.

In the week that marked the anniversary of D-Day, we listened to one of The Forgotten Irish podcasts, by Damian Shiels, which he first produced in 2018 and which explores the experiences of Irish Americans and Irish Canadians who took part in the Normandy campaign. Damian’s website highlighting his work on Irish involvement in the American Civil War is definitely worth a visit too.

The Royal Irish Academy is posting a series of short films on its You Tube channel featuring contributors to its book Ireland in the European Eye, which was published last year and features a huge and fascinating range of locations and periods. So far it doesn’t include Thomas O’Connor who spoke at our Festival last year on the Irish in Europe before the 18th century, but I hope his inclusion is planned as his Festival talk was fantastic. Hear it here.

Finally something which mixes literary and historical references – an article in the Independent by Festival contributor Claire Connolly which looks as the Irish love of English literature. It was inspired by the recent TV adaption of Normal People based on the book by Sally Rooney.

The WCHF weekly miscellany

We’re slowly getting used to the idea of not having a Festival this year, but still assembling interesting historical content here roughly every week. This week:

Ireland during the Second World War (aka the Emergency) is definitely a theme we want to explore at a future festival, and here is an interesting article on RTE about food and drink here during the wartime period.

Also from RTE this week, on a very different topic, design in the Decade of Centenaries.

On the subject of the Decade of Centenaries, HistoryHub.ie (based at UCD) reminded us via Twitter to listen to this lecture, given in 2016 by Professor Charles Townshend, on the Complexities of Commemoration.

Festival contributor Dr Richard Butler has just published, with Cork University Press, his book ‘Building the Irish Courthouse and Prison: A Political History 1750-1850’ which we can highly recommend. Hear his contribution to our first Festival, in 2017, here – his subject was the architecture of Bishop Lucey’s churches in Cork.

Interesting things to read, watch and listen to

We’re really sad that we are having to cancel the 2020 Festival, but already looking forward to 2021. In the meantime, we will continue to post weekly updates on interesting things to read, watch and listen to with a historical theme and check on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts too.

This week:

Ambassador Dan Mulhall has spoken twice at our Festival, and is well-known for his interest in poetry and his regular postings of Irish poetry on his Twitter feed. Yesterday he wrote the Irish Times’ Irishman’s Diary on Yeats and the Spanish flu pandemic.

The River-side is the blog of UCC Library’s research collections and has some interesting posts, including most recently a series called Mapping Cork: Trade, Culture and Politics in Late Medieval and Early Modern Ireland.

The Skibbereen Heritage Centre, although sadly closed at the moment, has good articles on its website looking at our local history here in West Cork – see here for features on specific buildings in Skibbereen, local historical figures, the dreadful famine years and other topics.

The RTE History Show on 17 May featured Festival contributor Lar Joye talking about weapons from the revolutionary era, including quite an insight into how to throw a hand grenade successfully. Lar spoke at greater length on a similar subject at our 2018 Festival and his talk can be heard here.

On the same programme, the producer Eithne Hand talked about the assassination of RIC officer District Inspector Percival Lea-Wilson, 100 years ago this year. Her grandfather, Liam Tobin, was one of his killers. She also discussed the link between Lea-Wilson’s death and the Caravaggio painting The Taking of Christ, which hangs in the National Gallery, and is reproduced below.


© National Gallery of Ireland


Cancellation of 2020 Festival

We are sad to annouce that we have decided, after much discussion, to cancel the History Festival this year.  We had hoped that by delaying the decision we might have been able to find a way of making the physical hosting of the Festival possible in August. It is now clear that is very unlikely to be the case and we don’t want to take risks with the safety of festival-goers. We will be putting some new digital content on this website over the Festival weekend.

We are already planning our 2021 Festival, which will be even better than the 2020 one would have been. Meanwhile, all the talks from our last three Festivals are easily accessible on this website (2019 here and the previous two years here), and we continue to post interesting history-related content on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as weekly round-ups here of things to read, watch and listen to in lockdown and beyond.

Thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you in 2021,

Victoria & Simon Kingston and the West Cork History Festival Team

Weekly selection

Another selection of interesting articles and films on historical themes:

The RTE website carried this article recently by Sean O’ Duibhir on Rita Childers, who he says could have become Ireland’s first female president in 1974, but for a combination of civil war politics and poor political choreography.

In the Irish Times on Thursday was an interesting article on food culture in Ireland highlighting a new research project on food in Ireland in the 16th and 17th centuries. The lead researcher is Dr Susan Flavin, Associate Professor of Early Modern History at Trinity, who spoke at our 2017 Festival.  You can hear Susan’s talk here.

Also in the Irish Times earlier in the week, this on links between Ireland and South Africa.

An intriguing piece in The Guardian on architecture and urban planning after the pandemic. The writer, Oliver Wainwright, looks at some historical precedents including the idea that cholera shaped 19th century street layouts – the introduction of sewerage systems to help prevent cholera outbreaks required the roads above them to be wider and straighter.

The London Library has put some of its literary and historical events online – they can all be accessed here. Particular highlights for us included lawyer and writer Phillippe Sands talking about his book on Nazi fugitives, The Ratline. Further down on the page, Hallie Rubenhold speaks about her book The Five, which looks at the lives of five working class women in 19th century London, who had one thing in common – they were the victims of Jack the Ripper. One of them, Mary Jane Kelly, was Irish.