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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of the Famine in the mid-nineteenth century to the onset of the Great War in 1914, by which time the Poor Law had been replaced by a range of other policy measures such as the old-age pension and national insurance.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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Appendix 2 279


Appendix 2 Databases of Poor Law Statistics and of Board of Guardians Of ficers 1. Poor law statistics For the purposes of this study, the author compiled a database of poor law related statistics drawing on the annual reports of the Poor Law Commis- sion and Local Government Board and on special returns for the 1906 Viceregal Commission and 1909 Royal Commission on the poor laws.1 Geographical unit The unit of collection was the union, so data was collected for the total number of unions existing at the relevant time (up to 163 at the maximum). Point in time The data was collected primarily for four points in time which marked significant points in the periodisation of the history of poor relief in nine- teenth- and early twentieth-century Ireland. These were: 1 Appendix to the Report of the Vice-Regal Commission on Poor Law Reform in Ireland. Volume II, 1906 [Cd. 3203] li, 441; Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and Relief of Distress. Appendix volume XXXI. Statistics relating to Ireland, 1910 [Cd. 5244] liv, 763. 280 Appendix 2 i) 1859 – when the lowest number of people were on poor relief in the period and when the poor law perhaps best corresponded to the original vision of George Nicholls (albeit in an Ireland radically dif ferent to that of the 1830s); ii) 1877 – just before the start of the Land War and related agricultural depression and after a period of growth in outdoor relief; iii) 1892 – at the ef fective end...

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