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08th Feb 2021

LISTEN: Bad Bridget podcast reveals tales of criminal Irish women

The podcast delves into the lives of criminal Irish women in North America from 1838 to 1918.

If you’re a history buff, but yearn for the untold stories, then Bad Bridget is the podcast for you. This new podcast is soaring through the charts and it’s all about the Irish women that history forgot. The new series, from Queen’s University Belfast and University of Ulster, tells the untold stories of generations of Irish women who saw their ‘American Dream’ become a nightmare. Presented by academics, Elaine Farrell and Leanne McCormick, the five-part series focuses on Irish women incarcerated in North America for crimes ranging from pick-pocketing to murder.

The series wrapped up just before Christmas, but as more people continue to tune in, the popularity for these remarkable stories continues to grow. The series examines prison records from Boston, New York, and Toronto from 1838 to 1918 and tells the story of how a disproportionate number of Irish women were imprisoned in North America. With narration popping up throughout from Derry Girls star Siobhán McSweeney, there is humour to be found in some episodes, such as the asthmatic woman who told a court she “needed” to drink, but there’s also darker moments where you truly understand the desperation these women faced.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the podcast has a number of aims including to explore the sexual deviant, the bad mother, and the criminal Irish woman. It poses the question; to what extent did immigrants fail to live up to the image of the good Irish mother?

The podcast also considers women’s roles in the sale of sex, including as sex workers as well as brothel-keepers. Bad Bridget comes about after years of research and you can catch up on the entire series on Apple Podcasts and Spotify now but be warned, it’s a binge-worthy listen, so clear your calendar!