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Poor Relief in Ireland, 1851-1914

Mel Cousins

This book examines the provision of poor relief in Ireland from the immediate aftermath of the Famine in the mid-nineteenth century to the onset of the Great War in 1914, by which time the Poor Law had been replaced by a range of other policy measures such as the old-age pension and national insurance. The study establishes an empirical basis for studying poor relief in this period, analysing over time the provision of indoor and outdoor relief and expenditure levels, and charts regional variations in the provision of poor relief. The author goes on to examine a number of issues that highlight political and social class struggles in relation to the provision of poor relief and also considers in fascinating detail the broader role of the Poor Law and the Boards of Guardians within local communities.


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Chapter 6 Outdoor Relief and Labourers’ Cottages: Nationalism and/or Economics? 135


Chapter 6 Outdoor Relief and Labourers’ Cottages: Nationalism and/or Economics? This chapter looks at issues concerning the growth in outdoor relief over the period of its expansion from the 1860s to the 1880s, and at the building of cottages for agricultural labourers, on the basis of legislation adopted in 1883, in the period up to 1911. It examines, in particular, some of the pos- sible causes of the growth in outdoor relief and the subsequent expansion of labourers’ cottages. In doing so, it looks at whether or not a link can be seen between these developments and the nationalisation of the boards of guardians which took place in the 1880s. Outdoor relief The rise in outdoor relief, 1860–1870s One of the most interesting questions to arise in the study of the post- Famine poor law is the reason for the rise in outdoor relief in the period after 1860. As has been seen, the original 1838 legislation required that all relief be provided in workhouses but outdoor relief was introduced during the Famine in 1847. This Act allowed payment of outdoor relief to limited categories of persons1 but excluded able-bodied persons from any entitle- 1 S. 1 of the 1847 Act allowed relief outdoors of all destitute poor persons disabled by old age, infirmity, sickness and serious accident, and of destitute poor widows having two or more dependent legitimate children. 136 Chapter 6 ment unless the local workhouse was full or unfit to admit poor persons due to fever...

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