Go or stay?

A steady stream of emigrants left Ireland during most of the early modern period. They went as refugees from war, famine and poverty and as asylum seekers from political, economic and religious oppression. They came from all walks of life and included women, men and children, though at this stage the majority who emigrated were men.

It is ... conceivable from estimated calculations and percentages that about 30 per cent of the guesstimated 602,000 pre-nineteenth century emigrants from Ireland were women.
Jerrold Casway, 'Irish women overseas' in Margaret MacCurtain & Mary O'Dowd, Women in early modern Ireland, Dublin, 1991, p.114.

Women who remained behind would have been affected in complex ways and their options might differ from those of the men.

Few sources survive to show how the majority affected coped in practice.


  1. Why did a steady stream of emigrants leave Ireland during most of the early modern period?
  2. Summarise the options of the women left behind in Ireland.
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