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Commissioners, guardians and paupers : life and death in the Limerick Poor Law Union, 1838-1850

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Commissioners, guardians and paupers : life and death in the Limerick Poor Law Union, 1838-1850

Ryan, Michael D'Arcy (2005) Commissioners, guardians and paupers : life and death in the Limerick Poor Law Union, 1838-1850. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

It is accepted by historians of Ireland that British government response to the potato famine in the middle of the nineteenth century was inadequate. This dissertation examines that response in the Limerick Poor Law Union of Munster province. It demonstrates that the ideological underpinnings that provided the motivation for government response to poverty had evolved as the result of a debate which had been protracted and misguided. The result was a poor law system which assumed culpability on the part of the poor and a belief that the corrective was coercion. By focussing on the application of the law in a specific area, the dissertation demonstrates that the local Board of Guardians was powerless to mitigate the law's negative effects despite having serious misgivings about its impact. It puts into sharp focus the almost weekly dilemma which they faced of having to follow the directives of the Poor Law Commissioners or defy them in order to respond more appropriately to local needs. What really went on during the famine is better understood through case studies which specifically demonstrate the effects of government decision-making and the impact the resultant policy had in the daily lives of the people who received the intended services. The purpose of this case study is to amplify the findings of famine historians so that we can appreciate the human dimensions of the crisis.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > History
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Ryan, Michael D'Arcy
Pagination:ix, 263 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:History
Date:2005
Thesis Supervisor(s):Rudin, Ron
ID Code:8297
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:18 Aug 2011 14:21
Last Modified:18 Aug 2011 14:21
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