Using an eclectic mix of objects, sights, sounds and smells, the exhibition charts these women’s experiences of migration; starting with their lives in Ireland and the hardships that led many to migrate.

Woman Scrubbing a Doorstep (1910), William Conor HOYFM.800.2000 Domestic duties like scrubbing floors primarily fell to women.

Unlike female migrants from other countries, hundreds of thousands of Irish girls and women travelled alone. The exhibition provides an insight into life at sea which was often difficult and dangerous.

Purse HOYFM.247.1979 Most women travelled light, keeping addresses inside their pockets and purses so they knew where to go when they arrived in America.

Having eventually arrived, America came as a shock to most of the women. Finding a job and a place to live wasn’t easy. Living in poverty and bombarded by temptations, crime never seemed far away. The exhibition shines a light on their living conditions in the tenements and the treatment they received from the authorities.

Handcuffs HOYFM.200.1972 If arrested, Irish women were often mistreated, ignored and sometimes abused.

We’ve been able to share the story of Bad Bridget ® thanks to funding from Arts and Humanities Research Council and ongoing collaboration between National Museums NI, Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University.

This exhibition is based on significant research carried out by Dr Elaine Farrell and Dr Leanne McCormick between 2015 and 2022.

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Content Warning

The exhibition contains brief descriptions of violence -including sexual assault- and criminal behaviour. There are references to sex, alcohol and death. There are bright lights, colours and 4 self-contained stations with smells.