The Crimean Journals of the Sisters of Mercy, 1854-56

TitleThe Crimean Journals of the Sisters of Mercy, 1854-56
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsLuddy, Maria
Number of Pages260
PublisherFour Courts Press

In December 1854 fifteen nuns from Ireland arrived in the Crimea to nurse the sick and wounded British soldiers who were fighting in the Crimean War. The head of this mission was Mother M. Francis Bridgeman of Kinsale, and among her community were Sister M. Doyle of Gort and Sister M. Joseph Croke of Charleville. All three kept an account of their experiences, recording the conditions under which they travelled to the Crimea, the state of the hospitals they worked in, their relationships with the soldiers, medical and military authorities. Florence Nightingale was already building her reputation with the work she and her assistants were carrying out in the hospitals. Mother Francis Bridgeman, in her first negotiations with Nightingale, noted that she had 'an ambitious woman to deal with on whom she could not rely'. Bridgeman and Nightingale were both strong personalities who were unwilling to concede authority and control to the other. Issues of power, class and identity formed the basis of the disagreements that developed between the two women. This is the first publication of these three journals, which include letters from Florence Nightingale. Relating tales of danger, intrigue and heroism these journals provide a new insight into the medical conditions under which nursing took place during the war, and the disputes that occurred between the Irish Sisters and Nightingale.

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