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Title: Children and childhood under the Irish Poor Law, c. 1850-1914
Author: Gallaher, Simon
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis examines the provision of poor relief for children under the Irish Poor Law during the post-Famine era, and it argues that prevailing social constructs of childhood had a major influence upon how welfare was provided for the children within the workhouse institutions. The Irish Poor Law, centred on the workhouse, was the first national system of statutory poor relief and it marked a significant change in how poor children and families were provided for in Ireland. Through a statistical analysis of workhouse populations, the thesis explores the how the demography of pauper children changed in the decades following the Great Famine. Poor relief was a key element in the economy of makeshifts of poor families, and the analysis of workhouse admission registers shows that children’s family circumstances largely determined the reasons for which children entered a workhouse. Children also received an education in the workhouse school in the form of schooling in literacy and a gendered programme of industrial training. However, the institutional environment was detrimental to children’s health and this precipitated efforts to remove children from the workhouses into alternative forms of care. This study details how these various aspects of poor relief encountered by children in the workhouses were interlinked and together informed the cultural imagining of the ambiguous concept of a pauper childhood.
Supervisor: Biagini, Eugenio ; Williams, Samantha Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Children ; Childhood ; Ireland ; Irish Poor Law ; Workhouse ; Institutional Welfare