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Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to PhD applications in the fields of:
- Nineteenth-century social history
- Crime history
- Women’s history


Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

I am a social historian of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Ireland, with a particular interest in crime history, and women’s and gender history. I took up a permanent post in History at Queen’s in 2012, where I am now Professor. Before this, I was an Irish Research Council Fellow at University College Dublin.

My first monograph, A most diabolical deed’: Infanticide and Irish society, 1850-1900 (Manchester University Press, 2013), won the National University of Ireland Publication Prize in Irish History, 2015. My second monograph was published in 2020, Women, crime and punishment in Ireland: Life in the nineteenth-century convict prison (Cambridge University Press), and won the National University of Ireland Irish Historical Research Prize Special Commendation (2021). My third monograph, co-authored with Leanne McCormick (Ulster University), Bad Bridget: Crime, mayhem and the lives of Irish emigrant women, was published by Penguin Sandycove in January 2023. It reached #1 in the Irish non-fiction book charts.

My research to date has focused on women’s crime and imprisonment; Irish women’s migration; motherhood; infanticide; convict tattoos; and women during the First World War. I have delivered talks on my research in Ireland and the UK, Canada, Finland, the US (Charleston, Chicago, Nashville, New York, and New Orleans), Indonesia, and China. I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2015 and appointed Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2020. I was Distinguished Research Fellow in Irish Studies at the College of Charleston, South Carolina, in 2019-20 and went on a staff exchange to Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, in 2014.

With Leanne McCormick (Ulster University), I lead the Bad Bridget project, which examines criminal and deviant Irish women in North America, 1838-1918. The Bad Bridget exhibition, funded by the AHRC, is currently in situ at the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh. A 5-part podcast series, produced in 2019, is available here. The Bad Bridget project has also featured in the Irish Times, Irish Examiner, Irish Independent, The Guardian, the Daily Mail, the Irish NewsThe Conversation and other international, national and local media sources.

I am currently researching gossip, secrets and surveillance in nineteenth-century Ireland.

I studied at University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast. I also hold a postgraduate diploma in museum studies from University of Leicester (2017). I have been involved in different ways in a number of museum exhibitions, including 'Bad Bridget', in situ at National Museums NI Ulster American Folk Park; 'A most proper verdict', which went on display at Carrickfergus Museum, Larne Museum, and the McClay Library QUB; and ‘Mad or Bad?’ at the Armagh County Museum. I am currently a government-appointed Member of the Irish Manuscripts Commison, and board member for Irish Historical Studies  and the Ulster Historical Foundation. I am Treasurer of the Ulster Society for Irish Historical Studies, and a member of the Women's History Association of Ireland; Society for the Study of Nineteenth-Century Ireland; the Women’s History Network; the International Federation for Research in Women’s History; and the Irish Association of Professional Historians.




I teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students at Queen’s University Belfast and have won or been shortlisted for a several teaching prizes. I also regularly supervise BA and MA dissertations.


Taught modules include:

HIS1002 Deviant Moments in Britain and Ireland, c.1700-1900

HIS2067 Cabinets of Curiosity: Museums Past and Present

HIS3118 Crime and Punishment in Nineteenth-Century Ireland


I also contribute to modules:

MHY7090 Pathways through History

MHY7082 Topics in Irish History

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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