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School of History, Philosophy and Culture
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
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Virginia Crossman completed her doctorate on official reactions to rural unrest in pre-Famine Ireland at Oxford University in 1985. She then spent two years as Junior Research Fellow at the Institute of Irish Studies in Belfast working on local government in 19th-century Ireland. She has held lectureships at Wolverhampton, Staffordshire and Keele Universities and joined the History Department at Oxford Brookes in January 2005. She is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Higher Education Academy Registered Practitioner. She has published extensively on aspects of government and administration in nineteenth and twentieth century Ireland; most recently on the history of the Irish poor law. Her current research focuses on vagrants and vagrancy.
Modern Irish history; the Irish poor law; the Troubles.
This ESRC-funded project (2007-10) provided the basis for the first detailed and wide-ranging analysis of poor relief in post-Famine Ireland, thus opening up a major new area of Irish social history. Using qualitative and quantitative data collected by a team of three post-doctoral research assistants, the project examined the character, organisation and operation of the poor law in Ireland from the end of the Great Famine to the establishment of the Irish Free State. The aim was to trace national and regional patterns in the provision and distribution of relief, and to explore the role of economic, social and political factors in the formulation and execution of national and local relief policies. By analysing both general trends in relief policies and the micro-politics of relief, the project provides a historical context for contemporary debates on the position of the poor and marginalised in Irish society, thus facilitating the integration of Ireland into the international history of European welfare.
This volume explores developments in health and social care in Ireland and Britain during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The central objectives are to highlight the role of voluntarism in healthcare, to examine healthcare in local and regional contexts, and to provide comparative perspectives. The collection is based on two interconnected and overlapping research themes: voluntarism and healthcare, and regionalism/localism and healthcare. It includes two synoptic overviews by leading authorities in the field, and ten case studies focusing on particular aspects of voluntary and/or regional healthcare in Ireland and Britain.
The focus of this study is the poor law system, and the people who used it. Introduced in 1838, the Irish poor law established a nationwide system of poor relief that was administered and financed locally. This book provides the first detailed, comprehensive assessment of the ideological basis and practical operation of the poor law system in the post-Famine period. Analysis of contemporary understandings of poverty is integrated with discussion of local relief practices to uncover the attitudes and responses of those both giving and receiving relief, and the active relationship between them. Local case studies are used to explore key issues such as entitlement and eligibility, as well as the treatment of ‘problem’ groups such as unmarried mothers and vagrants, thus allowing local and individual experience to enrich our understanding of poverty and welfare in historical context. Previous studies of poverty and welfare in Ireland have concentrated on the measures taken to relieve poverty, and their political context. Little attempt has been made to explore the experience of being poor, or to identify the strategies adopted by poor people to negotiate an inhospitable economic and social climate. This innovative interrogation of poor law records reveals the poor to have been active historical agents making calculated choices about how, when and where to apply for aid. Approaching welfare as a process, the book provides a deeper and more wide ranging assessment of the Irish poor law than any study previously undertaken and represents a major milestone in Irish economic and social history.
This book is a ground-breaking history of poverty and welfare in modern Ireland, in the era of the Irish poor law. As the first study to address poor relief and health care together, the book fills an important gap, providing a much-needed introduction and assessment of the evolution of social welfare in 19th- and early 20th-century Ireland. The collection also addresses a number of related issues, including private philanthropy, the attitudes of landowners towards poor relief, and the crisis of the poor law during the Great Famine of 1845-1850. Together, these interlinking contributions both survey current research and suggest new areas for investigation, providing further stimulus to the growing field of Irish welfare history.
This paper focuses on the campaign to reform the Irish poor law in the 1860s. Debate on poor law reform highlighted fundamental divisions over the principles underlying the New Poor Law as well as widespread dissatisfaction with the poor law system in Ireland particularly within the Catholic community. Led by the leading Catholic cleric, Archbishop Paul Cullen, critics of the Irish poor law sought to lessen reliance on the institution of the workhouse and to expand outdoor relief thus bringing the system closer to its English model. The poor law authorities supported by the Irish landed elite fought successfully to maintain the limited and restrictive nature of the system fearful of the consequences of extending local discretion. The paper reveals the contested nature of poor relief both in principle and in practice, and the centrality of social issues to Irish political debate in decades after the Great Famine.