Bad Bridget

Bad Bridget

Crime, Mayhem and the Lives of Irish Emigrant Women


The Number 1 Bestseller

'A captivating account of lives previously ignored' Sunday Independent

'An important, impeccably researched though eminently readable book that charts new territory' Irish Examiner

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Ireland in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was not a good place to be a woman. Among the wave of emigrants from Ireland to North America were many, many young women who travelled on their own, hoping for a better life. Some lived lives of quiet industry and piety. Others quickly found themselves in trouble - bad trouble, and on an astonishing scale.

Elaine Farrell and Leanne McCormick, creators of the celebrated 'Bad Bridget' podcast, have unearthed a world in which Irish women actually outnumbered Irish men in prison, in which you could get locked up for 'stubbornness', and in which a serial killer called Lizzie Halliday was described by the New York Times as 'the worst woman on earth'. They reveal the social forces that bred this mayhem and dysfunction, through stories that are brilliantly strange, sometimes funny, and often moving. From sex workers and thieves to kidnappers and killers, these Bridgets are young women who have gone from the frying pan of their impoverished homeland to the fire of vast North American cities.

Bad Bridget is a masterpiece of social history and true crime, showing us a fascinating and previously unexplored world.

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'I just loved it!' Ryan Tubridy

'Fascinating' Irish Times

'Rich in detail and thorough in research' New Statesman


  • A fascinating account of an aspect of the diaspora that is rarely given attention . . . Farrell and McCormick have created a captivating account of lives previously ignored
    Sunday Independent

About the authors

Elaine Farrell

Elaine Farrell is a Reader in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen's University Belfast, and co-creator with Leanne McCormick of the Bad Bridget project.
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Leanne McCormick

Leanne McCormick is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts and Humanities at Ulster University and co-creator with Elaine Farrell of the Bad Bridget project.
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