Following International Women’s Day (8 March) and ahead of St Patrick’s Day (17 March), our Diversity and Inclusion team is looking at some of the Irish women who have made a significant contribution to Liverpool.
But who was St. Patrick and why do we celebrate the day?
Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and was credited for introducing Christianity to the people of Ireland. The three-leaved clover (shamrock derived from the Irish seamróg) was synonymous to the saint and the Irish, as he used the plant as a metaphor to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans, three leaves in one leaf.
In the Catholic tradition, the day a saint passes away is considered a holy day to celebrate their ascension into heaven. Saint Patrick died on 17 March, and it continues to be when his Feast Day is commemorated annually. The reason for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, was to commemorate his religious life and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.
The earliest depictions of the saint showed that he was clothed in blue garments. But through the evolution of time, the colour green prevailed! And of course, the colour of the three-leaved clovers is green.
Irish Women who have made significant contributions to the city of Liverpool.
Liverpool’s connections with Ireland are deep rooted in its history.
Agnes Elizabeth Jones of Fahan, Ireland, was the first trained Nursing Superintendent of Liverpool Workhouse Infirmary in 1865. On the recommendation of Florence Nightingale, Jones was brought to Infirmary by William Rathbone, Liverpool philanthropist, who was funding a scheme to train nurses at the Infirmary’s hospital. Run by paupers with no structure and easy access to intoxicants, the conditions of the hospital were appalling. However, Jones never felt that her position was unfair, instead she worked tirelessly to tend to the needs of her patients, drawing happiness from seeing how her patients’ lives were alleviated by her work. Jones’ extensive contribution ultimately took a toll, and she died of typhus fever at a young age of 35. There is a stained-glass window dedicated to her in the Lady Chapel at the Anglican Cathedral, while the former Women’s Hospital, closed in 1995, was named Agnes Jones house when it reopened as a student’s hall of residence.
Catherine Wilkinson, also known as, Kitty Wilkinson, was an Irish migrant who later became known as the Saint of the Slums. During a cholera outbreak in 1832, Wilkinson took the initiative by offering the use of her house, yard, and boiler to her neighbours to wash their clothes at 1 penny per week. She taught them how to effectively kill the cholera bacteria through cleaning and saved lives in the process. Convinced of the importance of cleanliness in combating disease, she campaigned tirelessly for the installation of public bath houses where the poor could bathe. Her hard work paid off a decade later, and with the help of public funds, a joint washhouse and public bath was built on Upper Frederick Street, the first in the United Kingdom. Wilkinson is the first woman to be commemorated with a statue in Saint George’s Hall, unveiled in 2012, and like Agnes Elizabeth Jones, Wilkinson is also featured on the Noble Women Windows in the Lady Chapel of Anglican Cathedral.
Interested in Religion and Beliefs?
The D&I Team are hosting a Religion and Belief Workshop: Inclusive Approaches for Staff and Students taking place on 28th March 2023, 1:30pm – 4pm online. Staff and students interested in the workshop can register here.
Are you new to the city and looking for a spiritual community in Liverpool?
Feel free to reach out to the LJMU chaplaincy team. LJMU has chaplains from multiple faiths who are there to offer a helping hand if needed to all students and staff. All the chaplains are friendly, approachable, and willing to talk about anything from exploring faith and spirituality to pastoral care.
And finally Happy St Patrick’s Day to all our students, staff and LJMU community who are celebrating.
Remember if you are a student living in a residential area within the city, please be mindful of your neighbours during any celebrations and adhere to our Student Code of Behaviour and Disciplinary Procedures.
If you have a noise or anti-social behaviour complaint about other neighbours living in your community, you can make a complaint, or find out more on the Liverpool Student Homes webpage.