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    ‘We did what needed to be done’: Cherish, the first support group for unmarried mothers in Ireland

    Grimes, Lorraine (2023) ‘We did what needed to be done’: Cherish, the first support group for unmarried mothers in Ireland. Women's History Review, 32 (1). pp. 21-35. ISSN 0961-2025

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    Historically, unmarried mothers have suffered greatly in Irish society. Advocacy for unmarried mothers began in the 1970s with the emergence of the women’s movement in Ireland. ‘Cherish’ became one of the first organisation in Ireland to push for rights for unmarried mothers. This article is the first comprehensive study into the organisation exploring its establishment and development throughout the late twentieth century. Against the backdrop of the larger women’s movement, this article focuses on the early years of the campaign incorporating the push for unmarried mothers allowance; accommodation assistance offered; advice on legal issues including maintenance; as well as lobbying politicians on legislative change. It incorporates the organisation’s connection with the Catholic Church whilst simultaneously and unapologetically challenging Archbishop Dermot Ryan on prejudices against unmarried mothers. In the 1980s, the group faced new challenges as more women with unplanned pregnancies sought information on abortion. The organisations link with the Catholic Church diminished throughout the 1980s as Cherish began to direct women to abortion information helplines and openly supported the Defend the Clinics Campaign, despite their receipt of state funding. The establishment of Cherish and its commitment to advocacy for women in crisis pregnancy has been somewhat overlooked in the historical analysis of the Irish women’s movement.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Unmarried mothers; single mothers; second-wave feminism; the women’s movement;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Institutes > Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute, MUSSI
    Item ID: 16888
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Lorraine Grimes
    Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2023 10:13
    Journal or Publication Title: Women's History Review
    Publisher: Routledge, Taylor & Francis
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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