Nineteenth century Ireland falls neatly into two distinct periods: the period preceding and the period following the great famine of 1845–1849. The emigration of women during and after the famine is examined in this article. Changes in marriage and the spread of dowries is analyzed to distinguish between the roles of married and unmarried women. Options other than emigration are highlighted insofar as they constituted “choices” for women which avoided the decision, taken by some two million women, to leave their island home by emigrating.