Dr Ciara Breathnach, FRHistS

Dr Ciara Breathnach, FRHistS
Academic Staff
Senior Lecturer
Room: C1073

Dr Ciara Breathnach, FRHistS, lecturer in history at the University of Limerick has published widely on Irish socio-economic, cultural and health histories. She is course director of the MA (History of Family) and teaches the following modules

Semester I

HI6041 - Introduction to the History of Family

HI4187 - Health, State and Irish Medical Care, 1837-1948

HI6061- Linking Families to Communities

HI6003 – Concepts, Sources and Methods

Semester II

HI6062 People of the move: studying migration

HI6002 History Research Seminar

Breathnach has a strong record of grant capture and was Main-Principal Investigator of Irish Record Linkage 1864-1913 an Irish Research Council-funded project (2013-2016), which focused on infant and maternal mortality in Dublin 1864-1913.

She is author of The Congested Districts Board of Ireland, 1891-1923, poverty and development in the West of Ireland (Dublin, 2005) and editor/co-editor of seven conference proceedings, three of which are guest editorships of special editions of high-impact Journals.

Apart from sections in edited volumes, she has published articles in the following journals: Urban History, Medical Humanities, Gender & History, Medical History, Social History, Cultural and Social History, Irish Historical Studies, Immigrants and Minorities, History of Family: an International Quarterly, the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Historical Research: the Bulletin of the Institute for Historical Research and New Hibernia Review.  She has articles accepted and forthcoming in Social History of Medicine, Nursing History Review and Women’s History Review in 2017. For a full list of publications see http://www.ul.ie/artsoc/faculty-research/dr-ciara-breathnach

Awards held:

2017: Visiting Fellow, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University

2014: Foundation for Women in Medicine Fellow, Center for the History of Medicine, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

2013: University of Limerick, ISKS Faculty Fellow 2013 (Semester I).

2013: Flaherty Visiting Fellow, University of Massachusetts, Boston

2012-2013: Visiting Fellow, Institute of Historical Research, London.

2012: Visiting Faculty, New York University.


Royal Historical Society.

American Conference of Irish Studies.

American Association for the History of Medicine.

Association of Medical Humanities (UK).

Organisation of American Historians.

Big Berkshire.

Social History Society (UK).

Society for the Study of Nineteenth Century Ireland.

Editorial Roles


Co-editor of SSNCI Series, Liverpool University Press.


Associate Editor, Medical Humanities, British Medical Journal 

Committee and Board membership


Member of the Board of the National Library of Ireland (NLI).


Member of the Heritage Council of Ireland.


Research Associate, Centre for Contemporary History, TCD.

2010- Present   

Co- founder of the Consortium for Medical Humanities of Ireland.


President, Society for the Study of Nineteenth Century Ireland (SSNCI).


Founding Company Director & Secretary of Board, Irish Ancestry Research Centre.


Member of the NLI Advisory Committee to the Chief Herald.


Secretary of SSNCI.


Select Bibliography

Books/ Edited/co-edited Volumes

  1. Ciara Breathnach, The Congested Districts Board of Ireland, 1891-1923, poverty and development in the West of Ireland (Dublin, 2005).
  2. Ciara Breathnach and Brendan Kelly (Guest editors), On Patienthood, Medical Humanities, (June 2016 Volume 42 Issue 2).
  3. Ciara Breathnach, Liam Chambers & Anthony McElligott (Guest editors), Power, the State and institutions in Ireland, Special Journal Edition, Irish Historical Studies, 38:149  (2012).
  4. Anthony McElligott, Liam Chambers, Ciara Breathnach & Catherine Lawless (eds.), Power and History: from medieval Ireland to the post-modern world, Proceedings of the 29th Irish Conference of Historians (Dublin, 2011).
  5. Ciara Breathnach & Catherine Lawless (eds.), Visual, material and print culture in nineteenth-century Ireland (Dublin, 2010).
  6. Ciara Breathnach (guest editor, special Irish Edition), Ireland: church, state and society 1900-1975, The History of the Family: International Quarterly, 13: 4 (2008).
  7. Ciara Breathnach (ed.), Framing the west: images of rural Ireland 1890-1920 (Dublin, 2007).
  8. Ciara Breathnach & Aoife Bhreatnach (eds.), Portraying Irish Travellers: histories and representations (Newcastle Upon Tyne, 2007)


Peer-reviewed Articles

  1. Ciara Breathnach, Infant life protection and medico-legal literacy in early twentieth-century Dublin’, Women’s History Review (April, 2017), online first: 1-18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09612025.2017.1307283
  2. Ciara Breathnach and Brian Gurrin, ‘Maternal mortality, Dublin 1864-1905’ Social History of Medicine (2017) online first: https://doi.org/10.1093/shm/hkx010
  3. Ciara Breathnach and Brian Gurrin, ‘A tale of two cities – infant mortality and cause of infant death, Dublin, 1864–1910’, Urban History (2016) online first: 1-31 doi:10.1017/S0963926816000717
  4. Ciara Breathnach, ‘Handywomen and Birthing in Rural Ireland, 1851–1955’, Gender and History, 28:1 (2016): 36-56 DOI: 10.1111/1468-0424.12176.
  5. Ciara Breathnach and Brendan Kelly, ‘Perspectives on patienthood, practitioners and pedagogy’, Medical Humanities, 42 (2016):73–75. doi:10.1136/medhum-2016-010980.
  6. Ciara Breathnach, ‘Professional patienthood and mortality: Seán Ó Ríordáin’s diaries 1974–1977’, Medical Humanities (2016):1–5 doi:10.1136/medhum-2015-010828.
  7. Ciara Breathnach & Elaine Farrell, ‘“Indelible characters”: tattoos, power & the late nineteenth-century Irish convict body’, Cultural and Social History, 12.2 (2015): 235-254 doi 10.2752/147800415x14224554625271.
  8. Ciara Breathnach, ‘Medical officers, bodies, gender and weight fluctuation in Irish convict prisons, 1877–95’, Medical History, 58:1  (2014): 67-86 doi:10.1017/mdh.2013.72.
  9. Ciara Breathnach & Eunan O’Halpin, ‘Scripting blame: Irish coroners’ courts and unnamed infant dead, 1916–32’, Social History, 39: 2 (2014): 210–228 doi: 10.1080/03071022.2014.917877
  10. Ciara Breathnach, ‘Heavier the interval than the consummation:’ bronchial disease in Seán Ó Ríordáin’s diaries’, Medical Humanities 40 (2014): 11-16 doi:10.1136/medhum-2013-010386.
  11. Ciara Breathnach, ‘Irish Catholic identity in 1870s Dunedin, New Zealand’, Immigrants and Minorities, 31:1 (2013): 1-26 DOI: 10.1080/02619288.2012.747478.
  12. Ciara Breathnach, Liam Chambers & Anthony McElligott, ‘Introduction’, Irish Historical Studies, 38: 149 (2012): 1-5 doi:10.1017/s0021121400000584.
  13. Ciara Breathnach & Eunan O’Halpin, ‘Registered “unknown” infant fatalities in Ireland, 1916-1932’, Irish Historical Studies, 38:149 (2012): 70-88 doi:10.1017/S0021121400000638.
  14. Ciara Breathnach, ‘Medicalizing the female reproductive cycle in rural Ireland 1926-1956’, Historical Research: Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 85: 230, (2012): 674–690 doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2281.2011.00585.x.
  15. Ciara Breathnach, ‘Even “wilder workhouse girls” the problem of institutionalisation among Irish immigrants to New Zealand 1874’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 39: 5 (2011): 771– 794 DOI: 10.1080/03086534.2011.629086.
  16. Ciara Breathnach, ‘An exploration of bequeathing patterns in twentieth-century Ireland’, The History of the Family: an International Quarterly, 14: 3 (2009): 309-322 DOI:10.1016/j.hisfam.2009.08.001.
  17. Ciara Breathnach, ‘Introduction: Ireland church, state and society 1900–1975’, The History of the Family an international Quarterly, 13: 4 (2008): 333-340 doi:10.1016/j.hisfam.2008.10.001.
  18. Ciara Breathnach, ‘The CDB and the changing role of Irish women in the rural economy 1891-1921’, New Hibernia Review, 8: 1 (2004): 80-92.

Book Sections

  1. Ciara Breathnach, ‘… it would be preposterous to bring a Protestant here’: religion, provincial politics and district nurses in Ireland, 1890-1904’, in Virginia Crossman and D.S. Lucey (eds.), Healthcare in Ireland and Britain 1850-1970: voluntary, regional and comparative perspectives (London, 2015): 161-180.
  2. Ciara Breathnach & Oonagh Walsh, ‘Medical Humanities: new frontier or back to the past?’, in Margaret Kelleher & Jane Conroy (eds.), Restating the Humanities (Dublin, 2014): 36-39.
  3. Ciara Breathnach & David Butler, ‘Obituaries in provincial Irish newspapers, 1830-1900’, in James Kelly & Marian Lyons (eds.), Death and Dying in Ireland, Britain, and Europe: Historical Perspectives (Dublin, 2013): 249-276.
  4. Ciara Breathnach, ‘Lady Dudley's District Nursing Scheme and the Congested Districts Board’, in Margaret Preston & Margaret Ó hÓgartaigh (eds.), Gender and Medicine in Ireland, 1700-1951 (New York, 2012): 258-281.
  5. Ciara Breathnach and Catherine Lawless, ‘Introduction’, in Ciara Breathnach & Catherine Lawless (eds.), Visual, material and print culture in nineteenth-century Ireland (Dublin, 2010): 15-20.
  6. Ciara Breathnach, ‘Recruiting Irish migrants for life in New Zealand, 1870-1875’, in Laurence M. Geary & Andrew McCarthy (eds.), Ireland, Australia and New Zealand: history, politics and culture (Dublin, 2008): 32-45.
  7. Ciara Breathnach, ‘Introduction’, with Aoife Bhreatnach in Ciara Breathnach & Aoife Bhreatnach (eds.), Portraying Irish Travellers, histories and representations (Newcastle Upon Tyne, 2007): iix-xiii.
  8. Ciara Breathnach, ‘Historical sources pertaining to Travellers, 1824-1925’, in C. Breathnach & A. Bhreatnach (eds.), Portraying Irish Travellers, histories and representations, (Newcastle Upon Tyne, 2007): 17-31.
  9. Ciara Breathnach, ‘Introduction’, Ciara Breathnach (ed.) Framing the West (Dublin, 2007): xviii-xxi.
  10. Ciara Breathnach, ‘Smallholder housing and public Health, 1892-1915’ in C. Breathnach (ed.) Framing the West (Dublin, 2007): 175-192.


Book Reviews

  1. Ciara Breathnach, Review of The cruelty man: child welfare, the NSPCC and the state in Ireland, 1899-1956, by Sarah Anne Buckley, Irish Historical Studies, 39:154 (2014): 354-5.
  2. Ciara Breathnach, Review of Infanticide in the Irish Crown Files at Assizes, 1883-1900, Elaine Farrell (ed.), Studia Hibernica, 39 (2014): 206-8.
  3. Ciara Breathnach, Review of ‘She said she was in the family way’: pregnancy and infancy in modern Ireland, Elaine Farrell (ed.) Irish Historical Studies (2013): 720-21.
  4. Ciara Breathnach, The Dispossessed State: narratives of ownership in 19th-century Britain and Ireland by Sara L. Maurer, Women's History Review (2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09612025.2013.770342.
  5. Ciara Breathnach, Review of Asking Angela Mcnamara: an intimate history of Irish lives by Paul Ryan, Journal of Gender Studies, 21:3 (2012): 339-341.