Chapter 1Poor Relief in Ireland, 1851–1914 9
Chapter 1 Poor Relief in Ireland, 1851–1914 This chapter outlines trends in poor relief over the period, 1851 to 1914 in the context of economic and demographic change in Ireland. The first part of the chapter looks at the historiography concerning the relation- ship between poor relief and economic and demographic change. In the second part of the chapter, key changes in the socio-economic context are outlined, before examining trends in poor law numbers over the period and looking at the composition of those relieved (drawing on both admin- istrative and Census data).1 Finally, these trends are examined in their socio-economic context. Historiography The question as to the relationship between developments in the poor law and broader economic and demographic trends has been examined in the literature on the development of the British and European poor laws.2 Firstly, studies have looked at the macro relationship between the poor law and economic and political structures. For example, Solar has argued that ‘poor relief played an integral, and to a degree autonomous, part in 1 The family and household status of recipients of poor relief is examined in chapter 3. 2 In general, most studies focus on particular countries (or regions) in particular peri- ods. Obviously, their findings are specific to the time and place and do not necessar- ily imply that the same outcome would occur in a dif ferent time or place. Thus the discussion here focuses on studies which raise suggestive issues as to the Irish case...
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