Politics, pauperism and power in late nineteenth-century Ireland

By Virginia Crossman

Politics, pauperism and power in late nineteenth-century Ireland

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9134-6
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £15.99
  • Published Date: February 2014
  • BIC Category: HISTORY / Europe / Ireland, History, Ireland, European history, Humanities / British & Irish history


This is a study of the nature and operation of the Irish poor law system in the post-famine period. It traces the expansion of the system to encompass a wide range of welfare services, and explains the ideological and political context in which expansion took place.

The only local government bodies in rural areas to include elected members, poor law boards provided many Irish nationalists with their first experience of administrative power. As the influence of the nationalist guardians in the south and west grew, so the character of poor law administration in these areas began to change. Crossman explores the nature and significance of this process through detailed analysis of local decision-making and official actions, providing a new perspective on relationships between central and local administrators, welfare providers and welfare recipients, and the respectable and non-respectable. Topics covered include the politicisation of the welfare system, the relief of distress, the provision of labourers' cottages and the role of women in poor law administration.


Virginia Crossman is Professor of Modern Irish History at Oxford Brookes University


1. The poor law system in nineteenth-century Ireland
2. Poor law boards and the advance of Irish nationalism
3. Poor relief and the prosecution of the land campaign
4. Famine echoes: the relief of distress
5. Labourers' cottages: the poor law as an engine of social change
6. Domestic politics: women and poor law administration
Select bibliography

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