Book Launch & Exhibition Opening: 7pm, Wednesday 26th June
Short story writer Martin Towey in collaboration with photographer Suella Holland launch ‘An Act of Madness’ – a book and photographic exhibition which highlights life in psychiatric hospitals in early 20th-century Ireland.
‘An Act of Madness’ is a piece of historical fiction focusing on one woman’s story which echoes that of thousands of Irish people stigmatized, maltreated and largely forgotten by 20th Century Irish society. Psychiatric institutions throughout Ireland admitted large numbers of people deemed outcasts by society at the time. Those marginalized included people with intellectual or physical disabilities, psychological or psychiatric illness, or those who were considered eccentric, standing out in society as differing from ‘the norm’.
The central character in this story is Bridget, a 37 year old pregnant mother of nine children who dreams of something more for her life. Physically and psychologically exhausted by the demands made upon her, she questions her role and life’s journey. She wishes simply to stop, to breathe, to think. Unwilling and unable to conform to societal expectations and its authoritarian institutions, her strength of character and singular thinking are met with drastic repercussions. The impact on the individual, those left behind and to follow, speak of a dark chapter in Irish society from which we are only now emerging into the light.