Monday, June 25, 2007
Cousins on Poor Law Politics and Elections in Post-Famine Ireland
Posted by Mary L. Dudziak
Mel Cousins, Oxford Brookes University, has posted an essay, Poor Law Politics and Elections in Post-Famine Ireland. It appeared in History Studies. Here's the abstract: There has, to date, been limited study of poor law politics and elections in Ireland in the nineteenth century. Feingold's important study of poor law politics examined what he sees as the revolt in local government which was linked to the land war in the late 1870s and 1880s. Feingold's thesis is that the boards of guardians which administered the poor law in Ireland were effectively controlled by landlords up to the 1870s and that this control was gradually called into question by tenant-farmers from the 1870s, particularly the later 1870s, on. This led to the important social transformation of power in Ireland. Feingold's work is enormously valuable but does tend to give the impression that the boards of guardians in the period before the 1870s were simply administrative in nature and that politics was rarely involved at board level in this period. This article reviews the evidence on the poor law politicisation and elections in the decades before the land war focusing in particular on the period of the 1860s-1870s.