Exploring the construction of the Irish Mammy in ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’: Making and breaking the stereotype

Brona Murphy, Maria Palma-Fahey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores how the cultural concept of the Irish Mammy is portrayed in the popular television comedy series ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’. Considering the historicity and cultural aspects surrounding essential views of Irishness that have shaped the archetype of the stereotype, we draw on a corpus of (semi)scripted fictional interaction taken from the series. Using a Corpus Assisted Discourse Analysis (CADA) approach to explore linguistic patterning surrounding the use of key lexical markers (e.g. Mammy), we investigate what they reveal about how the concept is represented, (de)constructed, and negotiated. The paper discusses the construction and deconstruction of the stereotype and the extent to which it draws on shared knowledge to reflect and navigate particular cultural values and concerns (Hall 2007; Hall et al. 2013). It views the deconstruction, in particular, as a way of challenging the traditional stereotype, in light of societal change, to provide a more layered, realistic and multi-faceted insight into the identities of the Irish Mammy figure within this fictional context of Mrs Brown’s Boys.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-328
Number of pages32
JournalPragmatics and Society
Issue number2
Early online date28 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018


  • gender
  • culture
  • Irish-English
  • identity
  • construction
  • deconstruction
  • stereotype


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