Vicereines of Ireland: Portraits of Forgotten Women


Edited by Myles Campbell 

June 2021

By exploring previously unknown or rarely seen artworks by prominent Irish and British artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Vicereines of Ireland tells the untold story of the women who were the faces of the British administration in Ireland.

ISBN: 9781788550062 Categories: , , ,


This book tells the untold story of the women who were the faces of the British administration in Ireland. As the wives of the country’s viceroys, the vicereines were once the fashionable figureheads of social, cultural and charitable life at Dublin Castle, in the days before Irish independence. Exploring the portraits, papers and personal objects they left behind, this book sets out to recapture their lost legacies.

Fabrics shimmer, flowers blossom and pearls glint in the painted world of the vicereines. But behind these genteel images were activists and advocates who, as the studies in this book reveal, touched almost every facet of Irish life. Campaigns to develop hospitals, relieve poverty, promote Irish fashions, and, remarkably, mitigate what several perceived as the injustices of British rule in Ireland, are just some of their overlooked initiatives. The experiences and papers of the vicereines have much to tell us, not only about official Ireland but also about those whose identities are largely lost to history, such as orphans, artisans and the working poor. Often sympathetic but sometimes apathetic, the contrasting attitudes of the vicereines suggest a fresh, more inclusive reading of the British administration in Ireland, as viewed not only through its men but also its women.

Featuring essays by leading scholars and based on original sources, including diaries and letters, this beautifully illustrated book brings together text and image to create new and illuminating portraits of forgotten women.

Foreword by Mary Heffernan, OPW

Editor’s Introduction

  1. ‘The Goverment of the Familie’: The First Duchess of Ormonde’s Understanding of the Role of Vicereine ~ Naomi McAreavey
  2. ‘That Caballing Humour, which has Very Ill Effects’: Frances Talbot, Jacobite Duchess of Tyrconnell and Vicereine of Ireland ~ Frances Nolan
  3. ‘She Made Charity and Benevolence Fashionable’: Mary, Marchioness of Buckingham, Vicereine of Ireland ~ Janice Morris
  4. ‘An Admirable Vice-Queen’: The Duchess of Rutland in Ireland, 1784–7 ~ Rachel Wilson
  5. ‘A Subject for History’: Maria, Marchioness of Normanby as Vicereine of Ireland, 1835–9 ~ Myles Campbell
  6. Lacing Together the Union: How Theresa, Marchioness of Londonderry’s Unionist Endeavours were at the Heart of her Viceregal Tenure in Ireland, 1886–9 ~ Neil Watt
  7. ‘One of the Sincerest Democrats of her Caste’: Lady Ishbel Aberdeen’s Crusade against Tuberculosis in Ireland ~ Éimear O’Connor


About the Editor: Dr Myles Campbell is now Research and Interpretation Officer (Curator) for the Office of Public Works at Dublin Castle, where he has curated several exhibitions. In 2017 he was co-editor of Making Majesty: The Throne Room at Dublin Castle, A Cultural History (Irish Academic Press), research for which earned him the inaugural George B. Clarke Prize.

Praise for Vicereines of Ireland

‘This book of fluidly written essays is richly illustrated and doubles as the catalogue to an exhibition (in Dublin Castle, Aug.-Sept. 2021) but, beyond the shimmering fabrics and glinting pearls, the collective effort portrays aspects of the social, cultural, charitable and even political activities of these women. They range from 1661 and the first Duchess of Ormonde’s arrival to the 1938 visit by Lady Aberdeen to the Peamount Hospital and Industries, which had grown out of the tuberculosis sanitorium that she had been instrumental in establishing in 1912. Emanating out of the OPW itself, the project needs no justification, and Campbell’s informative introductory survey of how the role of vicereine was played out over time fills an important gap.’
Sylvie Kleinman, History Ireland

You may also like…