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Motherhood, Murder and the Media: Joanne Hayes and the Kerry Babies Case

Goc, NE 2012 , 'Motherhood, Murder and the Media: Joanne Hayes and the Kerry Babies Case', in Elizabeth Podnieks (ed.), Mediating Moms: Mothers in Popular Culture , McGill-Queen's University Press, Quebec, pp. 125-143.

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The discovery of the dead baby’s remains on the rocky shores of the west coast of Ireland in the spring of 1984 was the start of a tragic series of events which would coalesce to create a watershed moment for women in Irish society in what would become forever known as the “Kerry Babies Case.” The complex tale of one young parturient Irish woman, Joanne Hayes, and two dead, newborn babies came at a moment in Irish history when a heated national debate on contraception and abortion was being played out in the Irish parliament and the media, and when questions of garda corruption were at the forefront of public consciousness. This study analyses the media coverage of the case through Ireland’s two major daily newspapers, the Irish Independent and the Irish Press, and Ireland’s major Sunday newspaper The Sunday Independent to expose the ways in which the media created a compelling and prejudicial discourse that maintained a binary framing of the maternal subject as both madonna and whore, a framing which continues to be the preferred way in which the news media make sense of the infanticidal mother.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Goc, NE
Keywords: Kerry Babies Case, infanticide, media, maternal, press discourse
Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press
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