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The End of the Irish Poor Law?Welfare and healthcare reform in revolutionary and independent Ireland$

Donnacha Seán Lucey

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719087578

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719087578.001.0001

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Child welfare and local authorities

Child welfare and local authorities

Chapter:
(p.119) 4 Child welfare and local authorities
Source:
The End of the Irish Poor Law?
Author(s):

Donnacha Seán Lucey

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719087578.003.0004

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines local authority child welfare policies in the Irish Free State. It explores debates whether the institutionalisation of children in industrial schools or the boarding out in family homes was preferable, which were prevalent with both local and central government. It highlights that biasness against unwed mothers, lone fathers and the underserving poor existed in local authority child welfare. However, the chapter also identifies more positive policies particularly relating to boarding-out. This measure was times utilised to maintain children within their wider family if not their parents.

Keywords:   Industrial schools, boarding-out, child poverty and welfare, social control

By the early twentieth century it was widely recognised that workhouses were unsuitable institutions for children. However, many continued to be relieved in workhouses and by the early 1920s renewed efforts were being made to remove children from the newly named county homes. This chapter examines the relationship between local boards of health and public assistance and industrial schools. Furthermore it explores the boarding-out system and highlights that this provision was at times preferred to institutionalisation. This chapter’s focus is largely on the KBHPA and provides a case study of local authority child welfare policies.

Women, children and home assistance

The early Free State poor law reforms extended women’s entitlement to relief. Under the pre-1921 system, able-bodied single women, widows with one child, deserted wives and women whose husbands were in jail or in asylums were not eligible for outdoor relief.1 These restrictions were removed under the 1923 Local Government (Temporary Provisions) Act, and entitlement to home assistance was notionally based on need, regardless of sex or marital status. This extension brought women and children into the home assistance system who were formerly only entitled to indoor workhouse relief. This was demonstrated in 1927: 6,924 widows were home assistance recipients, of whom 3,528 had no children and 632 had a single child.2

As highlighted in chapter 2, women and children were more likely to receive home assistance than men. They were viewed as more deserving, and the workforce’s gendered nature cut many women off from the male-orientated social insurance system.3 This gender imbalance was demonstrated in 1931/32 when the DLGPH published the categories of home assistance recipients: 27,895 adult females received home assistance in this year compared to 18,100 males; 11,109 of this (p.120) female cohort were dependent on their husbands, while the remaining 16,786 received relief independently, and were most probably widowed, although single, abandoned and unmarried mothers were also relieved. Of this group, 9,649 were permanently disabled, 1,364 were temporarily disabled and 5,439 were able-bodied.4 The number of children relieved by home assistance reached a high of 16,199 in 1934 before dropping to a low of 7,515 in 1939.5 This decrease was brought about by the introduction of Unemployment Assistance and the widows’ and orphans’ pension. Home assistance also relieved unmarried mothers and their children – the number of illegitimate children relieved by home assistance grew from 499 in 1932 to 1,500 in 1945.6

Throughout the 1920s, widows and their children were considered the most deserving of the poor for whom home assistance, still associated with the ignominy of the poor law by many, was viewed as unsuitable. The 1927 Relief Commission criticised the low level of relief payments for widows. It also argued that home assistance impinged on the ‘self-respect’ of women who were reduced to destitution as a result of the death of their husband. The commission complained that widows had to endure a weekly ‘parade’ of their poverty in the HAO’s offices.7 The commission reported that widows should be granted state pensions and fully removed from the relief system. The commissioners also recommended the introduction of a contributory widows’ pension scheme similar to the provision introduced in Britain and Northern Ireland during the mid-1920s. If the government could not introduce such insurance-type schemes, the commission recommended that local authorities should receive a state grant that met half the cost of relief for ‘necessitous widows with children’.8 The widows’ and orphans’ pension was not introduced until 1935 and state grants to subsidise local authority costs did not emerge.9 For much of the 1920s and 1930s poor widows remained reliant on home assistance, which remained stigmatising as well as the payments being low. In general, however, an increase in the number of children relieved in poor circumstances by home assistance was recorded, which demonstrated that the new relief system did provide for more families.

Local authority child welfare in the new Free State

Boarding-out was initially introduced in Ireland under the Irish Poor Law Amendment Act (1862) to provide an alternative to the workhouse for young inmates. This system allowed boards of guardians to maintain children in family and domestic settings in what amounted to an early foster service. Further legislation in 1869 and under the Pauper Children (p.121) (Ireland) Act (1898) extended the measure to children up to the age of 15. For much of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries local boards of guardians preferred institutional relief to boarding-out for workhouse children. Under the early Free State reforms the measure was further extended and children no longer had to be inmates to be boarded out; this theoretically helped children to avoid the stigma of the county home. Local authorities could directly board out orphaned or deserted children, although permission had to be granted by the DLGPH to board out other categories including illegitimate children and those from destitute families.10 Despite these reforms the measure failed to prove popular in the early Free State and the number of boarded-out children decreased from 2,226 on 1 October 1913 to 1,907 on 31 March 1925.11 This contrasted with the overall trend in outdoor relief/home assistance which witnessed a significant increase in the same period (see chapter 2). By 31 March 1931 2,826 children were in local authority institutions. Of this cohort, the DLGPH reported that 1,219 were sick, accident or bodily harm cases and were most probably hospital patients. A further twenty-six were considered intellectually disabled. The remaining 1,581 children in local authority institutions were not sick or disabled, but were likely to have been institutionalised as a result of poverty, illegitimacy, desertion or orphandom.12 Throughout the 1930s a steady decrease of such children in county homes occurred and by 1940 the number had reduced to 1,076.13 During the same period the number of boarded-out children increased from 1,906 in 1926 to 2,349 in 1939. This points to the transfer – albeit slow and gradual – of children from county homes to boarding-out situations.

Many children, particularly those who were illegitimate, remained in county homes although the removal of children from these institutions was a key objective of the Free State poor law reforms. By 1927 there were fifty-five children resident in the South Cork County Home despite the fact that the original Cork county scheme did not provide for child welfare in the institution. Many of the children were of school age but they did not receive any education.14 In the South Tipperary County Home in Cashel there were children of various ages including seven boys who attended school outside the home. Revelations that the boys mixed with older male inmates in a ‘small cramped room’ prompted the 1927 Relief Commission to complain that the home was in a perilous condition and ‘altogether unsuitable for boys’.15 In Kerry a separate school was originally planned but this never materialised.16 In county Clare, the establishment of the Kilrush Mother and Baby Home was an attempt to provide specialist local authority provision for unmarried mothers and their children. This home suffered from poor conditions, (p.122) and the 1927 Relief Commission complained that it lacked a water supply and had ‘no proper’ kitchen, refectory, bathing or sanitary facilities. There were 105 children in the Sister of Mercy-run home of whom fifty-seven were over two years of age. Thirty-seven children attended school outside the home.17

In Galway, the Bon Secours-run Tuam Mother and Baby Home was another example of a local authority institution that provided separate accommodation for unmarried mothers and children. As with the Kilrush home, the 1927 Relief Commission complained that the home suffered from ‘dilapidation and decay’ which undermined its ‘usefulness’.18 As outlined in chapter 3, these homes had extremely high infant mortality rates. In some county schemes institutional relief for children in county homes was allowed. The Meath County Home in Trim relieved children from the ages of 3 to 15 although the 1927 Relief Commission described it as a ‘gloomy depressing institution’ that had only reconfigured for the ‘worse’ since its workhouse days.19 The continued relief of children in county homes represented a failure of the poor law reforms. Many of the initial county schemes did not countenance child welfare in these institutions where conditions were far from ideal. Some children’s homes were established in former workhouses; however, these were mostly for unmarried mothers and illegitimate children, and local authorities failed to invest the necessary funds to upgrade the often run-down institutions.

Institutional welfare versus boarding-out

From the mid-nineteenth century child welfare debates centred on the alternative merits of placing children in institutions or domestic settings. As already noted, boarding out was not initially popular under the poor law. Officials were fearful of what might be found in many Irish homes, and it was widely articulated that pauper children were more likely to be inculcated in good habits and Christian values in the workhouse than in the homes of the poor.20 Local authorities were often unwilling to extend what was seen as a form of outdoor relief. The suitability of many potential boarding-out parents was also questioned. On the other hand, the virtues of bringing up children in a family setting were articulated by reformers, philanthropists and some local and central government officials.21

The Irish Free State inherited the structure and administration of boarding-out from the poor law. Two national inspectors oversaw the system’s implementation, and boards of health and public assistance, which took on the boards of guardians’ role, were responsible for its (p.123) local administration. Child welfare policy in the Irish Free State is largely viewed as favouring the institutionalisation of children, although debates on the suitability of institutional welfare over boarding-out continued in the 1920s and 1930s.22 As early as 1922 Ernest Blythe, the Minister of Local Government and Public Health, commented in Dáil Éireann on the boarding-out versus industrial school debate. With reference to regional discrepancies, he described the boarding-out system as ‘exceedingly successful’ in some counties but added that in other areas industrial schools were favoured by local authorities.23 Blythe did not indicate a preference for either provision, although he did state that the more punitive reformatory system was not appropriate for destitute children. More vocal support for boarding-out was evident from other sources. In 1923 the feminist and nationalist senator Jennie Wyse Power described domestic child care as the most ‘natural thing’ and believed that few family homes had as bad an influence on a child as a ‘big institution’.24

Many DLGPH officials also favoured boarding-out. In 1924 the DLGPH wrote to the KBHPA calling for children in the county home to be boarded out. The government department opined that the successful upbringing of these children was best achieved in the families of the ‘respectable poor’.25 The 1927 Relief Commission reignited the debate about institutional care over boarding-out for destitute children. In July 1925 some female witnesses heavily criticised industrial schools. Mrs Power, a commissioner for the poor laws in Dublin, stated that the ‘rearing’ of children in industrials schools was not conducive to producing the best kind of citizen. She believed that such children benefited more from being boarded out in ‘decent homes’ in the countryside even if the foster-parents were poor.26 Miss M. J. Cruice – a founder and secretary of the private Dublin Catholic mother and baby home named St Patrick’s Guild – gave similar evidence. She claimed that children received inadequate training in industrial schools: ‘[Industrial schooling] is too automatic; there is too much system, and the children are not prepared for the world. The great thing against the industrial schools is that the heart is not cultivated in their young children.’27

Other witnesses including Miss Lister, the DLGPH’s boarding-out inspector, also criticised industrial schools and promoted boarding-out. The second departmental inspector for boarding-out, Miss Fitzgerald-Kenney, believed that the removal of children from families should be the last resort and that the potential consequences for the child’s future had to be first fully considered. She also rejected the premise that the economic condition of a family should lead to institutionalisation and stated: ‘poverty alone should never be permitted to sever families’.28 An (p.124) erstwhile poor law guardian from Cork, Maria Lynch, also promoted foster-parents, who she believed were nearly as good as birth mothers in rearing children.29

Such public criticism of industrial schools unsurprisingly provoked a bellicose response from their supporters. A meeting of the managers of female industrial schools claimed that the statements made at the inquiry were ‘wild’ and ‘unfounded’.30 A former industrial school inmate named Bridget Crosbie praised her treatment in a letter to the Irish Times. She described herself as ‘an industrial school girl’ who had left the institution six years earlier. Crosbie outlined how she had recently returned to the school after becoming ill and that the nuns had sought medical treatment for her. She also claimed that many of the former residents were ‘doing well’ and that they looked upon the school as a ‘good home’.31

In light of the criticisms, the Relief Commission allowed evidence from some managers of industrial schools and also visited a number of institutions.32 The managers of the Artane and Clonmel Industrial Schools gave evidence and heavily condemned boarding-out. Brother O’Ryan, the manager of the Artane Industrial School in Dublin and secretary of the Industrial Schools Association, ardently supported institutionalisation over boarding-out. He argued that families who took boarded-out children lacked ‘philanthropy’ and were only motivated by ‘pecuniary profit’.33 O’Ryan believed that boarded-out children, particularly those who were illegitimate, were stigmatised and ‘shunned and despised’ in schools and localities. He also averred that boarded-out children were often used as ‘drudges’ on farms and were frequently kept from school to mind the house or drive the creamery cart.34 O’Ryan believed life opportunities for boarded-out children were limited and he questioned: ‘are they all to gravitate to swell the farm labour market, and is there to be no hope for them to rise above a life of drudgery, no matter what their antecedents or their talents?’35

O’Ryan argued that industrial schools provided children with opportunities to prosper later in life. He stated that children in these institutions did not suffer from the stigmatisation or discrimination that boarded-out children were subjected to in society. The training that children received in trades, according to O’Ryan, enabled them ‘to enter life self-supporting, self-reliant, and self-respecting’. Furthermore, he believed that many former industrial school children went on to have ‘successful’ careers not just in trades but also in commerce and even professional life.36 Advocating traditional child protection ideas, O’Ryan claimed that it was the state’s responsibility to undertake the upbringing of destitute and neglected children and to provide them with the opportunities to make the most of their strengths and abilities, which allowed (p.125) for their useful membership of the community.37 The justification for industrial schools was couched in notions of citizenship which gave governments greater responsibility to meet the needs of their citizens. Such state intervention was a preventative measure and would provide children with opportunities in later life which their family circumstances or boarding-out did not offer. O’Ryan’s lexicon of ‘opportunity’ also resonated with the ‘regeneration of the nation’ ideology prominent in interwar welfare debates in Britain and internationally, which attempted to improve populations for the benefit of the wider community.38

O’Ryan’s accentuation of the positive features of industrial schools was misplaced. The 1936 Commission of Inquiry into the Reformatory and Industrial School System (Cussen Report) criticised the educational standard in the Artane home. It also expressed dissatisfaction with the supervision and after-care of children who left the industrial schools run by the Christian Brothers.39 Unsurprisingly, O’Ryan failed to address the issue of institutional abuse – both sexual and physical – which the 2009 Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Ryan Report) identified in the industrial school system generally and in Artane in particular.40 The accounts of former residents’ experiences, including that of Peter Tyrrell who was in Letterfrack Industrial School during the 1920s and 1930s, depict the system’s abusive and punitive regimes.41

O’Ryan articulated the belief that institutional child welfare was more morally favourable than many domestic environments. He informed the commission that children should be sent away from the ‘parental influence’ if the ‘salvation’ of the child was necessary.42 O’Ryan also believed that in many cases children whose father had died should be institutionalised. The commissioner Glynn put it to O’Ryan that the ‘decent class’ of widowed mother who financially struggled should be maintained with enough means to look after her children. O’Ryan contended that many of these widows subsequently became alcoholics. The families of the majority of children in Artane, according to O’Ryan, were unable to ‘safeguard’ or ‘bring them up properly’. These parents were deemed ‘unfit’, ‘fond of drink’ and not ‘the proper guardians’ of their children.43 The death of a parent and poverty were seen as manifesting ‘immoral’ circumstances which threatened children. Similarly, boarding-out was criticised for stigmatising children, while the lack of after-care opportunities and the financial motivations of foster-parents were highlighted. The institutionalisation of children in industrial schools was couched in the rhetoric of child protection. Much of this emanated from later nineteenth-century concerns over child neglect, which brought about the establishment of the NSPCC in 1884 and subsequent child protection (p.126) legislation including the 1907 Probation of Offenders Act and the 1908 Children’s Act.44

By 1920 in Britain there was a groundswell of opinion against industrial schools among penologists, judicial figures and reformers, and committals fell, leading to the closure of some institutions.45 Industrial schools continued to receive much support in Ireland. The 1927 Relief Commission commended the ‘excellent’ management of industrial schools and believed that every effort to provide pupils with a ‘life of self-dependence’ was made.46 The commission failed to favour institutionalisation or boarding-out and recommended the continuation of both measures. It merely stated that neither measure could be condemned because of ‘occasional failures’ and that there was ‘good’ in both systems.

Child protection and reform were invariably targeted at the poorest sections of the working classes, often families who most conspicuously failed to live ‘respectable’ lives in Britain and Ireland.47 The historian Sarah-Anne Buckley has highlighted how poorer children were committed to punitive institutions including industrial schools, reformatories and borstals through processes in which NSPCC workers, teachers, social workers and doctors were complicit.48 The proponents of industrial schools failed to promote other forms of assistance including extended family and child support. Such an emphasis on children at risk rather than family support remained a significant problem in social work throughout the twentieth century.49

The state had an extensive role in the committal and financial maintenance of children in industrial schools, as well as regulatory roles, although the institutions were largely run by religious authorities. Industrial schools were under the remit of the Department of Education while the courts system, which committed many children, was under the Department of Justice. The third arm of state involvement, and the focus of this study, was the DLGPH and local boards of health and public assistance. Local authorities could maintain children in certified industrial schools and until 1939 had the right to inspect children under such care.50 In 1914 local boards of guardians maintained a mere 100 children in industrial schools. The growth in the industrial school population after the establishment of the Free State was partly driven by local authority committal of children to these institutions.51 Historians view this as representative of the state’s preference for institutionalisation combined with local authority unwillingness to commit resources and energy in maintaining boarded-out children in domestic environments.52 The remainder of this chapter examines the child welfare policies enacted by the KBHPA. It provides an in-depth case study of local (p.127) authority child welfare policies which is currently lacking in the wider historiography.

Institutional local authority child welfare

The Kerry case demonstrates that the practice of placing children from county homes in industrial schools was prominent during the early Free State. Industrial schools, mostly under the control of Catholic religious authorities, solicited children from local authorities during a period of workhouse amalgamation and reform. In 1922 the Cork local authorities were informed by the Department of Education that industrial schools were willing to take children.53 In June 1923 St Vincent’s Industrial School in Dublin wrote to the KBHPA seeking children for committal. In turn, the Kerry authorities ordered the transfer of some county home children to the institution.54 In November 1923 the KBHPA sent seventeen children to industrial schools.55 In March 1924 a further twelve children were sent by the Kerry authorities to industrial schools in Killarney and Passage West in Cork.56 The annual number of committals of children to Kerry’s industrial schools grew from twenty in 1920 to sixty-six in 1921 and reduced to thirty-eight in 1922. In 1923 forty-six children were committed to four industrial schools in Kerry. Nationally, 1923 witnessed a significant increase when 1,068 were committed compared to 820 in 1922, 808 in 1921 and 763 in 1920 This suggests that, countrywide, workhouse children were transferred to industrial schools under the poor law reforms of the early 1920s.57

Ambiguity surrounded the removal of children from county homes to industrial schools. In 1926 the DLGPH wrote to the KBHPA seeking the names and committal orders of all the children sent from the Kerry County Home to industrial schools since 1922. While the Kerry authorities provided details of twelve children sent between April 1925 and February 1926, it could not account for the earlier period, although the board’s secretary acknowledged that children had been transferred.58 The number sent to the Killarney Industrial School was finally ascertained from the industrial school authorities and not the KBHPA. Between 1922 and 1926 twenty-two females and five males were transferred from the county home to the Killarney Industrial School.59 Details of children sent to other industrial schools did not emerge. Such confusion over committal processes was not confined to Kerry. As late as 1935 the boarding-out inspector, Fitzgerald-Kenney, believed that such institutionalisation was the only ‘explanation’ that could be given for the ‘whereabouts’ of the older children who were formerly dependent on the poor law.60 Such opaqueness was partly due to the chaos (p.128) and confusion of the revolutionary period when the judicial system had largely broken down. This was alluded to by Ernest Blythe in a 1923 Seanad (Senate) debate when he commented that many children were sent to industrial schools without being committed by magistrates, the usual method of committal.61 Without court orders the legality of some committals may have been questionable. The Pauper Children (Ireland) Act 1898 permitted local boards of guardians to send orphaned and deserted workhouse children to certified industrial schools. In other cases, parental consent or a court order under the 1908 Children’s Act was needed for a committal. It is entirely possible that the confusion in Kerry resulted from the failure of the local government authorities to undertake the correct procedures.

During the mid-1920s children continued to be transferred from the Kerry County Home to industrial schools. For the twelve months ending 31 March 1926 eleven children were committed to industrial schools from the county home. The age breakdown of this cohort was as follows: one 13-year-old, one 12-year-old, seven 5-year-olds and two 4-year-olds.62 In July the KBHPA paid capitation fees for thirty children who were originally resident in the county home for five different industrial schools. However, the KBHPA maintained more children in the county home and in July 1926 sixty-three children were in this institution. Of this cohort five were aged between 10 and 15 years, twenty-four between 4 and 9 years, twenty-three between 1 and 3 years and there were eleven infants under 12 months. The majority – thirty-six – were the illegitimate children of unmarried mothers resident in the home, eleven were orphaned or deserted, and nine were destitute legitimate children.63 The large number of children under 4 years of age (thirty-one) was reflective of the practice of keeping unmarried mothers with their children for up to three years in the Kerry County Home.64

In 1926 the local authority also maintained fourteen children in the Glin District School in county Limerick. Glin was a former workhouse that maintained and educated children from Limerick and North Kerry and was established in the 1890s by the LGB at the behest of the Catholic bishop – E. T. O’Dwyer – of Limerick.65 In 1928 the Catholic Christian Brothers-run St Joseph’s Industrial School was transferred from Limerick city to this site. All of the transferred children, bar a single one-year-old, were aged between 11 and 14 – they were either orphaned or deserted and no illegitimate child was maintained in the school.66 The 2009 Ryan Commission heavily criticised conditions in this industrial school in the twentieth century and identified a severe regime of corporal punishment and major deficiencies in care facilities. The children were also under threat of sexual abuse from a number (p.129) of Christian Brothers.67 In 1926 the KBHPA maintained 107 children in institutions including the county home, Glin District School and industrial schools. The majority of children were in the county home. It should be noted that more children were institutionalised in industrial schools – for example 317 in 1923 – in county Kerry. The majority of these children were committed by other processes which did not involve the KBHPA.

It has been contended that twentieth-century Irish social policy destroyed family life that failed to conform to middle-class norms and expectations. The constitutional and custodial rights of poor parents were regularly trampled on with impunity when thousands of children were removed from their homes on the grounds of poverty, neglect and illegitimacy.68 This was particularly evident in the industrial school system, which was upheld every day by an army of NSPCC inspectors and district court justices who sat in judgement on poor families and institutionalised children whose parents did not fit the mould of appropriate and respectable parenthood.69 Local authority public assistance was different from the industrial schools system, although similar harsh attitudes were evident among local and central government officials towards those classified as the immoral poor. In August 1931 the DLGPH inspector, Crofts, examined the county home and reported that seven widows or married women deserted by their husbands were in the institution. According to Crofts, many of these women had children in industrial schools and the county home and were not of ‘good moral character’. Crofts recommended that the children in the county home should be sent to industrial schools ‘as soon as possible’.70 The policy was to separate children in such circumstances from their immoral mothers.

Provision such as home assistance which could have kept families together was often denied to those considered as having failed to live up to middle-class values. Social bias was prominent among NSPCC inspectors who often described the poor who came under their notice as ‘lazy’ and ‘useless’.71 Similar attitudes were prevalent among local authority welfare officials in Kerry. In May 1936 a married father of fifteen children with a small agricultural holding of five acres applied to the KBHPA for an increase in his weekly home assistance payment of 6s 6d. The SAO – William Hill – reported that the board should not entertain an application because the father was ‘too lazy’ and the family lived in ‘wretched’ conditions.72 Perceptions of the father’s working life and the family’s living conditions coloured the official’s judgement despite their obvious poverty. Such moralistic attitudes often prevented authorities from providing greater family support, which could in turn lead to the institutionalisation of children.

(p.130) The children of the deserving poor were also often institutionalised. In 1934 a Kerry HAO recommended the removal of a child from a family. The girl was described as ‘healthy and natural’ but with no application for study, and with a tendency to ‘wander from home’. Her father had a debilitating spine injury, and the HAO believed that the parents were incapable of caring for the girl’s future welfare and recommended her committal to an ‘industrial school or some home’.73 While the board passed the matter on to the NSPCC, in this case poverty and the parent’s disability initiated the process of institutionalisation of a child perceived as potentially problematic; moralistic attitudes towards the parents did not feature.

In other cases, parents influenced the type of welfare provision received by their children. In 1935 a Tralee widower opposed the planned boarding-out of his daughter with his mother-in-law, as he believed that the industrial school was preferable. In turn, the KBHPA rescinded a previous resolution to board out the girl and instead committed her to the Tralee Industrial School with the aid of a local NSPCC inspector named J. J. Scott.74 In November 1934 a child was removed from the county home by her mother who refused to agree to the local authority’s plans to board her out. By January 1935 this child was in an industrial school, which may have been the mother’s preferred option; however, the KBHPA eventually ordered the girl to be boarded out from the industrial school.75 Parents attempted to influence, sometimes successfully, local authority decision-making and occasionally favoured institutionalisation over boarding-out, although it is impossible to determine the motivations of parents in many cases.

Distressed parents in perilous and desperate circumstances also sought to give up their children. Parental committal of children to institutions was often brought about by familial crisis. This was demonstrated in 1926 when the case of an unemployed widower came before the KBHPA. Four of the widower’s seven children had already been committed to industrial schools in Killarney and Tralee by an NSPCC inspector named Daly. The KBHPA’s secretary, O’Mahony, was concerned that the children would be left unattended if the father gained employment and recommended that they should be sent to ‘some home’.76 However, Daly believed that the father was intentionally attempting to ‘get rid of his children’. He commented: ‘I will not nor would I be allowed to break-up his home’. He opined that the father could easily have got his wife’s relatives to look after the children and stated: ‘whilst he is working he is bound to care for them properly like hundreds of people who are similarly circumstanced’.77 Eight months later in August 1926, Daly reiterated the father’s chicanery and claimed (p.131) that he was doing his ‘upmost’ to institutionalise the children.78 In this particular case, the local authorities and the NSPCC resisted the committal of all the children to an industrial school or the county home. This case highlights the general lack of welfare provision, and the only alternative to institutionalisation cited by the officials was for the father to turn to familial support. These cases also indicate that home assistance officials and local authorities often worked in tandem with the voluntary NSPCC whose primary remit was child protection, and which was central to the institutionalisation of children into industrial schools.

It has been argued that welfare policies were disadvantageous to lone fathers who were viewed as being incapable of caring for their children properly. It was also believed that lone fathers should not have sole responsibility for their daughters.79 In the case just outlined, the local authority was unwilling to grant home assistance to the father. However, concerns regarding the children centred on their care while the father was working rather than moralistic attitudes towards lone male parenthood. In another case a poor labourer’s two children were admitted to the county home after the mother died during childbirth. The HAO informed the KBHPA that the man had to ‘take care of’ five children between the ages of 4 and 11.80 The children’s admission was a form of relief for a family struggling after the mother’s death. The remaining children stayed with the father, indicating that concerns over lone fatherhood did not feature in this case. Local policy was often determined by a need to relieve distressed families, often as cheaply as possible, as opposed to measures designed for the reformation of families perceived as ‘unsuitable’.

The lack of a female presence in a home did lead to the institutionalisation of children in other cases. In 1934 SAO Shanahan wrote to the KBHPA concerning a report he had received from the NSPCC inspector, Scott, regarding the condition of a family home in Castleisland town. On inspection it was found that two children were in the home – one was suffering from ‘infantile paralysis’ or polio and the other was deemed intellectually disabled or ‘an idiot’. There was no female to look after the welfare of these children after the mother had died and the eldest daughter had left the home upon marriage.81 The father, a stonemason, willingly had the children removed to the county home and the board recommended that he make a financial contribution towards their relief.82 In this instance, some concern was aired that there was no female presence in the home. The institutionalisation of the children, however, was brought about by the lack of any real welfare alternative for the care of disabled children as opposed to moralistic concerns over single parenthood.

(p.132) Institutionalisation of children was also utilised by distressed parents as a form of temporary relief during periods of familial crisis. In February 1935 two children were admitted to the county home after their mother was hospitalised; it was agreed that the children would be discharged when the mother returned home. These children lived in destitute conditions and the house was reportedly a ‘mud cabin’ that was deemed ‘unfit for human habitation’. The beds in the house were made of ‘twigs and straw’ and bags stitched together were used as bed coverings. The HAO recommended bed clothing in the short term and the building of a labourer’s cottage for the family in the long term.83 Despite the family’s obvious poverty, the long-term removal of the children from the family home was not mooted, indicating that destitution alone did not always lead to institutionalisation.

The institutionalisation of children by local boards of health and public assistance was underpinned by a range of complex dynamics. Moralistic attitudes, which undermined the rights of poor parents and single mothers who failed to conform to wider societal values, were evident in the decision-making of HAOs and local boards. Local government child welfare played a role in the ‘nation’s architecture of containment’ outlined by academics including James M. Smith and others.84 This was made up of a punitive network of welfare institutions, which were primarily concerned with the incarceration and moral reform of those who transgressed social mores. However, social control was not the only factor in the institutionalisation of children. County homes were at times utilised as a means of relieving destitute and poverty-stricken families, particularly on occasions such as a parent’s death or incapacitation. The lack of other forms of family welfare support – children’s allowance was not introduced until 1944 – led to the institutionalisation of children in both industrial schools and county homes.85 This mirrored earlier relief trends under the poor law: by the early twentieth century the break-up of nuclear families was the most common reason for family groups to enter workhouses.86

Local authority child welfare policy and non-institutional relief

Local authorities often favoured other types of welfare over institutionalisation. In 1936 an SAO visited the house of a man in the county Kerry town of Castleisland on the recommendation of the NSPCC inspector and the Revd Mother of the local Catholic presentation convent. The SAO reported that the man had eleven children under 15 years of age. He stated that the living conditions were ‘really bad’ and that two children slept on a mattress on the kitchen floor and two others in boxes (p.133) ‘shaped like cradles’. The SAO recommended that the father be granted 5s a week to rent a better house, and that the family should be provided with a cottage under a new housing scheme in the town. Without this assistance the official believed that the children’s ‘health’ was in danger.87 In this case the break-up and institutionalisation of the family was not mooted and increased welfare was the preferred option.

Intransigence, defeatism and an unwillingness to commit to more bureaucracy by local government officials have been seen as factors that undermined the extension of boarding-out in independent Ireland.88 This was alluded to in the DLGPH boarding-out inspectors’ annual reports. In 1933 Inspector Fitzgerald-Kenney noted that institutionalisation was easily resorted to when a family was perceived to have had become ‘submerged’ with poverty.89 This was evident under the former poor law when many local guardians, supported by ratepayers, were simply not prepared to devote either the necessary time or resources to provide specialist services for children.90 As already highlighted, the modest growth in the number of boarded-out children demonstrates the overall failure of local authorities to fully adopt the system in the 1920s and 1930s. Its cost more than doubled from £18,621 in 1914 to £39,122 in 1939. This, however, represented an increase in the payments although the actual number of children boarded out did not grow at a similar rate. This growth in costs was most rapid in the early years of the Free State when countrywide expenditure rose from £16,946 in 1922/23 to £26,293 in 1925/26.91 Statistics for South Cork are only available from 1924/25, although from that year onwards a gradual increase did occur which was in keeping with the national trend. During 1924/25 in county Kerry only £500 was spent on boarding-out; by 1938/39 this had increased over three-fold to £1,852. This represented a growth in Kerry from significantly below the national rate per 1,000 of population in 1924/25 to slightly above the rate by the mid-to-late 1930s (see Figure 4.1).

The expansion in county Kerry’s boarding-out system was partly brought about by pressure from central government. The DLGPH frequently examined lists of children in the county home and identified cases for boarding-out.92 However, the process was beset with difficulties. In December 1933 the DLGPH questioned the KBHPA on the status of forty-five children in the Kerry County Home. The local authority reported that seven of the children were unsuitable for boarding-out because they had tuberculosis; several unsuccessful efforts were made to board out the remaining children who were aged 2 years and under.93 In turn, the DLGPH informed the board that it should advertise for fosterparents for children eligible for boarding-out in the county home.94

Advertising for the boarding-out of children often garnered a limited (p.134)

Child welfare and local authorities

4.1 Expenditure on boarded-out children in Kerry, South Cork and the Irish Free State per 1,000 of population, 1924–39

Source: Local Taxation Returns

response. The KBHPA had previously advertised in 1923 for potential foster-parents to take boarded-out children, but no applications were received.95 The lack of appropriate families to take boarded-out children undermined the system’s progress. This was compounded by restrictions on the types of homes which children were permitted to be boarded out in. Elderly couples were seen as improper boarding-out parents because of the lack of potential support for the children after they died. Single women who wanted ‘company’ were not encouraged to take children. It was believed that older women often died before the children were able to fend for themselves, while younger single females were likely to make boys and girls into servants to attend to ‘their personal needs’.96 DLGPH officials argued that careful consideration in finding proper boarding-out parents had to be undertaken and reported:

One of the chief objects in good supervision is the development and training of the child, with the purpose always in view of binding him so closely to the family life of the home in which he is placed that gradually this influence becomes his directing guide during life.97

Evidently parents were to imbue in children a set of moral beliefs which were invariably tied to middle-class values. This resonated with the system under the poor law in which boarding-out afforded the opportunity to disseminate middle-class beliefs, a method of supervising (p.135) housekeeping practices, and a means of promoting domestic virtues which allowed for the setting of basic living standards for the poor.98 Foster-parents were required to live in a rural setting, have a healthy dwelling with wholesome water and a school in close proximity.

The restrictions on the types of families that children could be boarded out to hindered expansion of provision. This was evident in 1931 when the DLGPH refused to sanction boarding-out to a childless married couple. The department informed the Kerry authority that it was not prepared to sanction the boarding-out of young children to homes where there were no other children for ‘companionship’ and that another home should be found.99 The KBHPA’s secretary, O’Mahony, disagreed with the department, stating that he had personally requested that the woman take the boy and that she would make a ‘very suitable foster-parent’. He acknowledged the advantages of placing boarded-out children in families with other children, but also believed that in nearly all such cases potential foster-children were sought by families for monetary gain. In contrast, he believed that foster-parents without any children were always anxious to ‘adopt’ and look after the child’s future interests when payment ceased. O’Mahony complained that the regulations undermined the system. He stated: ‘owing to the large number of children available for boarding-out, the procuring of suitable homes is becoming a difficult matter, and now that the Minister has objected to boarding-out in homes where are no other children, progress will be slower.’100

Local officials did not always abide by restrictions and children were often boarded out in homes that did not meet the desired standards. This was demonstrated in June 1933 when the department inspector, Fitzgerald-Kenney, complained of the condition of two boarded-out children in the county Kerry region of Kilcummin. She informed the DLGPH that the ‘ordinary local cottage’ was in an insanitary condition and that the bedroom floor was damp. She believed there was ‘little comfort’ in the one-bedroom house, although she did acknowledge that it was clean and the children were washed. Fitzgerald-Kenney was also concerned about the physical condition of one of the children who was reportedly ‘very thin’ and not a ‘strong child’. She also believed that the childless and elderly foster-mother was not sufficiently experienced to care for such ‘young children’. She did state that the other child was healthy and was ‘attached’ to her boarding-out mother.101 The KBHPA sought the opinion of the local dispensary doctor who stated that the girl was probably suffering from post-influenza debility. The doctor believed that the child was ‘not listless’ and had ‘normal’ mental facilities although she may have been ‘shy’ or ‘depressed’. He also believed that (p.136) she was ‘getting as much and indeed probably more care’ than the average child in the district got from their parents.102 The doctor did confirm that the bedroom had a mud floor but argued that 90 per cent of the homes in the vicinity had such conditions. The SAO endorsed the doctor’s views and recommended the continued boarding-out of the child in the home. This example demonstrates the limitations of the regulations and ideals regarding boarding-out. The DLGPH inspector’s concerns centred on the elderly foster-parent, the poor sanitary condition of the home and the fact that one of the children was ill. These objections were overturned by the local officials who were swayed by the realities of poverty in everyday houses, the lack of other welfare provision and the apparent contentment of at least one of the boarded-out children in the home. Decision-making often involved input from various medical, local and central officials, indicating that at times the process could be thorough and that local authorities consulted all available expertise.

Boarding-out was also hindered by the suitability of potential fosterparents’ homes and the local reputation of the family. In October 1934 six siblings whose father had died and whose mother was imprisoned were admitted to the Kerry County Home. The DLGPH directed the local authority to board out the children, preferably with relatives.103 The SAO visited the children’s wider family, but only two aunts were willing to take them. One aunt had a ‘very nice home’ and was able to take two of the children, but the second aunt was deemed unfit due to her home’s ‘general appearance’. The SAO feared that no other person would take the children because of their ‘family history’. The local Catholic priest refused to sign the necessary forms to board the remaining five children out with the ‘unsuitable’ aunt and called for their committal to industrial schools.104 The KBHPA recommended that two children be boarded out with the favourable aunt and the rest be sent to industrial schools. Evidently both the religious and local authorities considered the second aunt’s family to be immoral and preferred institutionalisation in such circumstances. Also, the mother’s imprisonment appeared to impact on the children’s reputation locally, which also undermined the local authority’s ability to find boarding-out parents.

Despite these problems, the system – as demonstrated in Table 5 – had become the KBHPA’s main form of child welfare by the early 1930s. In March 1925 the KBHPA relieved 153 children of whom only thirty-five were boarded out; sixty were in the county home while the remaining fifty-eight were in other institutions, primarily industrial schools. By 1932 148 children were relieved by the local authority of which the majority – eight-seven – were boarded out, forty-five were in the county home and a mere fifteen were in other institutions. The (p.137)

Table 5 Children maintained by the Kerry Board of Health and Public Assistance, 1925–32

1925

1927

1930

1932

Total number of children assisted on 31 March annually

153

151

173

148

Boarded out

35

44

84

87

Hired out

0

2

0

1

In county home

60

76

52

45

In other institutions

58

29

37

15

Illegitimate children

55

58

44

41

Source: KCL: KBHPA/B/42, Statistical Returns: Organisation Services & Finance, Years ending March 1923–March 1932

use of this measure continued to increase in the 1930s and by March 1936 the KBHPA was boarding out 128 children. Nationally public assistance authorities were slower to relieve children via boarding-out. In 1930 a total of 4,271 children were maintained by local authorities: 1,960 were boarded out, 1,786 were in local authority institutions including county homes and children’s homes, and 413 were maintained in ‘other institutions’, which included industrial schools.105 It is also important to note that more children ended up in industrial schools and reformatories – for example 4,960 in 1923 – generally, although the majority of these cases were committed by the NSPCC and the court system.106 This case study of the KBHPA policies, however, demonstrates that conflicting attitudes towards child welfare were evident among local public assistance authorities. In Kerry a preference for boarding-out was demonstrated by the mid-1930s, which was brought about by a combination of pressure from the DLGPH and the efforts of local officials.

The DLGPH also promoted a policy of boarding children out with relatives where possible. This was viewed as being in the best interests of the children and wider family. Fitzgerald-Kenney argued that one of the ‘chief objectives’ of the boarding-out system was to keep ‘families together’. In 1935 she called on local boards of health and public assistance to board out children in county homes with their mothers’ families.107 Many children, particularly in cases of parental bereavement, were boarded out with relatives. This was demonstrated in May 1930 when the acting SAO, Dr Shanahan, recommended that the uncle of a disabled child – the mother had emigrated with her two other children to the United States – receive a boarding-out allowance. The SAO later reported that the home’s conditions were ‘all that could be desired’ (p.138) and that the child’s appearance ‘showed the utmost attention of kind-hearted foster-parents’.108 The uncle was married with one child and had a farm of thirty acres, indicating a degree of social respectability. His aged mother also lived in the house. In the eyes of officialdom, this landowning nuclear and farming family provided the ideal circumstances for the boarding-out of children. The SAO stated that without the boarding-out allowance the child would be transferred to the county home and ‘lose all connection and communication with her relatives’.109 In this case, the local officials demonstrated concern for the child’s emotional well-being. The decision-making was also informed by an unwillingness to institutionalise the child and a desire for her to remain within the wider family. Cases such as this demonstrate that local public assistance authorities could adopt more progressive policies than merely institutionalising children as a form of social control. However, the uncle’s respectability also played a role and as already demonstrated local officials were unwilling to board out children in the homes of relatives considered immoral.

The rights of the biological parents were often not considered. This was evident in 1935 when the KBHPA boarded out a child to her aunt’s family. The SAO reported that the aunt’s husband was a carpenter ‘in fairly good circumstances’ and was willing to give the child a trade. The biological mother was in the county home where she had another ‘illegitimate’ child and was not deemed a ‘suitable person to have the custody’ of her daughter.110 The maintenance of this unmarried mother with her two illegitimate children outside the county home was never considered. The mother’s perceived immorality contrasted drastically with her sister’s assumed respectability, good home life, and the opportunity for the child to receive a trade. The same social and gender prejudices as those that underpinned the industrial school system were evident in the KBHPA boarding-out policies.

Entitlement to boarding-out allowances, similar to home assistance, was often vague and open to interpretation by both recipients and local authorities. This was demonstrated in 1929 and 1930 when a man, M.D., took over his sister’s small farm of thirteen acres after her committal to a mental hospital following her husband’s death. He had previously been a labourer with a yearly wage of £30, but claimed that he was compelled to leave this employment to look after his sister’s children.111 He committed two of these children to the county home, although he stated that he had made the ‘best arrangements possible’ for the family. One child returned to the family home after the HAO granted a boarding-out allowance of 5s per week and a £2 clothing annual allowance. In August 1929 this payment was suspended on the grounds (p.139) that the ‘little holding was stocked’ with farm animals.112 In January 1930 M.D. applied for the allowance to be reinstated on the grounds that he could not maintain the boy and would be compelled to send him ‘back to the house’. Without the boarding-out allowance, he could not keep and ‘educate the boy’.113 According to the HAO the allowance was initially cut off by the KBHPA because one board member, acting on local information, believed that there was more animal stock on the farm – an indicator of financial stability – than M.D. admitted. The board believed that it would be ‘no harm’ to try and make M.D. pay for the child’s maintenance.114 This case demonstrates that boarding-out remained the KBHPA’s favoured method of relief of children in such circumstances; however, the uncle’s taking over of the family farm and suspected financial capacity to independently maintain the children undermined his entitlement. His threat to have his nephew re-committed to the county home demonstrates that recipients often had a degree of influence in decision-making. Threats of committal to the county home were common in other applications for boarding-out allowances by relatives of children. Contrasting notions of need and entitlement between local officials and recipients were important dynamics which often shaped accessibility to relief.

Boarding-out also appeared to maintain wider networks of family support and welfare. This was evident in a Kerry case in 1932 when an illegitimate child was boarded out to a relative. The biological mother was casually employed by farmers and when unemployed stayed with her relatives. After the birth of her child she was in residence with her relatives but soon ‘disappeared’. Subsequently the relatives threatened to commit the deserted child to the county home unless a boarding-out allowance was granted, although the record does not state the out-come.115 It would seem that boarding-out allowances were sometimes utilised to maintain complex family arrangements and allowed illegitimate children to remain within extended families. Women were forced into drastic decisions such as desertion in response to attitudes towards illegitimate children in Ireland. At another level, agency was at times demonstrated by women and families in gaining access to boarding-out and avoiding the institutionalisation of children, in some cases.

A major criticism of boarding-out was that payments stopped as soon as children reached the age of 15, leaving the families with no welfare to maintain the adolescent’s education and training. The DLGPH, however, believed that many children stayed with families or were taken into the families of relatives after coming of age. According to Inspector Fitzgerald-Kenney, in 1933/34 57 per cent of boarded-out children were ‘adopted’ into families after reaching the age of 15. She believed that (p.140) such children were provided with ‘secure homes’ and the ‘companionship and influence of real parents to guide them’ into adulthood.116 At times in county Kerry the local and central authorities were willing to extend boarding-out allowances in exceptional circumstances beyond the age of 15. This was demonstrated in 1936 when an application was made for the extension of the allowance for a former boarded-out child to attend technical school for two years. The boy continued to reside with his foster-parents and was described by the HAO as ‘exceptionally good and clever’.117 His teacher identified his precocious reading ability as that of a 20-year-old, and recommended that he be sent to technical school. The teacher believed that he would be ‘readily absorbed’ into the school and would subsequently become ‘a useful member of society’. The HAO stated that it would be a ‘pity’ to put him to work as a labourer. The DLGPH partly agreed and extended the boarding-out allowance until the child was 16.118 While this case was exceptional, it did highlight that at times the authorities were willing to support children beyond the cut-off age for relief, although other evidence demonstrates that extensions in relief were often denied.119

It is impossible to know what happened to the vast majority of the children who were boarded out and how their lives developed. Allegations that boarded-out children suffered from physically abusive situations have surfaced.120 In the records that form the basis of this study the voices of the boarded-out children are not heard. However, it appears that many became unskilled labourers or domestic servants, often in the service of the families that they were boarded out in. At times children who became servants were far from happy in their employment. This was demonstrated in 1930 in Kerry when a boarded-out child came of age and went into the service of her former foster-parents. After fourteen months the girl left the employment and later claimed she had not received full payment for her services and sent the family a ‘bill suing for wages due’.121 The girl left Kerry for Dublin before eventually ending up in the Good Shepherd Magdalene Laundry in Waterford. Many boarded-out children faced a precarious future with limited opportunities in independent Ireland.

Conclusion

Questions are often raised about the extent to which the concept of child welfare has been used by certain groups, including governments, to pursue their own social, economic and political ends.122 The prominence of institutionalisation in child welfare in independent Ireland has been viewed in the recent historiography as a means of enforcing middle-class (p.141) values on the poor and punishing those who failed to lived up to the moral and social mores of the time. This was particularly evident in the activities of the NSPCC which had little sympathy for impoverished groups, particularly widowers and single mothers who were considered ‘morally’ inappropriate parents. Such social control was evident in the child welfare policies implemented by the Kerry local authority. Bias against the undeserving poor, unmarried mothers and lone fathers was prevalent in the attitudes of local and central government officials. Local authority child welfare often led to institutionalisation in industrial schools. The local authorities played a role in what Smith et al. have termed the ‘nation’s architecture of confinement’: the institutionalisation of large numbers of ‘deviants’ in places such as industrial schools, Magdalene Laundries and mental hospitals.

Local child welfare policies were, however, influenced by a range of other dynamics. Evidently, there was much support for the use of boarding-out over industrial schools nationally and within central government. By the early-to-mid-1930s the KBHPA boarded out more children than it institutionalised. In the historiography, local authorities have been criticised for their failure to invest effort and energy into boarding-out and for resorting to the more convenient industrial school system. This was evident in the early 1920s when a degree of chaos surrounded the closure of workhouses, and an increase in children committed to industrial schools was witnessed; however, it does not ring true for many of the Free State years in Kerry. At times officials were willing to circumvent regulations regarding notions of ideal family conditions – largely representative of middle-class values – to ensure children were boarded out. Boarded-out children were often placed with relatives including aunts, uncles and grandparents. In such circumstances the measure appeared to support existing familial welfare structures and helped children to remain within their wider families, if not with their parents. Illegitimacy was a central reason for children becoming reliant on local authority assistance. However, other circumstances often forced the abandonment, desertion or giving up of children, including the death of a parent, disability and poverty, which could lead to a child ending up in local authority care. In many of these cases, the actions of local authorities were not necessarily imbued with the objective of moral reform or social control.

While social and gender prejudice was prevalent, poverty and destitution of families and the lack of more substantial welfare provision were often key determinants in decision-making. Gaps in family support were not confined to Ireland, and pre-universal welfare states generally excluded groups from insurance-based systems, especially women and (p.142) children, who often became reliant on poor relief and charitable provisions. The breakdown of nuclear families could lead to family breakups in a transnational welfare landscape where provision such as state childcare was limited. As one social historian of inter-war Britain notes, working- and middle-class families were routinely split up at times of economic difficulty, and children dispersed to relations, neighbours and institutions.123 These findings do not dispute the centrality of the punitive industrial schools in Ireland’s child welfare landscape. More children remained institutionalised than boarded-out in Ireland. However, children who came to the attention of some local public assistance authorities such as the KBHPA were likely to be boarded out. Child welfare was a contested terrain where national and local policy was determined by a range of often competing social, economic, religious and cultural dynamics. Such complexities are central to understanding child welfare in early-to-mid twentieth-century Ireland.

Notes

(1) Crossman, ‘Viewing women, family and sexuality’, 542.

(2) Report of the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor, p. 56.

(3) Steinmetz, Regulating the Social, p. 163.

(4) DLGPH Annual Report, 1931–2.

(5) Maguire, Precarious Childhood, p. 51.

(6) Ibid., p. 51

(7) Report of the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor, p. 57L. Earner-Byrne, ‘“Parading their poverty”’: widows in twentieth-century Ireland’, in B. Farago and M. Sullivan (eds), Facing the Other: Interdisciplinary Studies on Race, Class and Gender in Ireland (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008), pp. 32–46.

(8) Report of the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor, p. 58.

(9) Cousins, The Birth of Social Welfare in Ireland, pp. 74–8.

(10) Report of the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor, p. 14.

(11) Ibid., p. 15

(12) DLGPH Annual Report, 1931–2, p. 125.

(13) DLGPH Annual Report, 1940–1.

(14) Report of the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor, p. 27.

(15) Ibid., p. 42

(16) Ibid., p. 17

(17) Ibid., p. 24

(18) Ibid., p. 30

(p.143) (19) Ibid., p. 39

(20) Crossman, ‘Cribbed, contained and confined’, 47

(21) For children, the poor law and the boarding-out system in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, see Crossman, ‘Cribbed, contained and confined’; A. Clark ‘Orphans and the poor law: rage against the machine’, in Crossman and Gray (eds), Poverty and Welfare in Ireland, pp. 97–114; C. Skehill, ‘The origins of child welfare under the poor law and the emergence of the institutional versus family care debate’, in Crossman and Gray (eds), Poverty and Welfare in Ireland, pp. 115–28.

(22) J. Barnes, Irish Industrial Schools, 1868–1908: Origins and Development (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1989).

(23) DÉD, vol. 1, 28 Nov. 1922.

(24) DÉD, vol. 1, 15 Mar. 1923.

(25) KCL: KBHPA/B/6, Correspondence: E.P. McCarron, Sec. of the DLGPH: Circular to Boards of Health and Public Assistance, 2 Sept. 1924

(26) Irish Times, 17 July 1925.

(27) Ibid

(28) DLGPH Annual Report, 1933–4, p. 387.

(29) Irish Times, 17 July 1925OL: Folder/02/0/00103A, minutes of evidence of 1927 Relief Commission: Maria Lynch, 10 Feb. 1926, p. 27–76

(30) Irish Times, 30 July 1925.

(31) Irish Times, 17 July 1925.

(32) Report of the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor, p. 71.

(33) OL: Folder, 09/0/00103A, minutes of evidence of 1927 Relief Commission: (p.144) Brother O’Ryan, Manager of Artane Industrial School, 22 Sept. 1925, p. 12–1

(34) Ibid., p. 12–6

(35) Ibid., p. 12–8

(36) Ibid., p. 12–9

(37) Ibid., p. 12–6

(38) D. Lackerstein, National Regeneration in Vichy France: Ideas and Policies, 1930–44 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2013), p. 225.

(39) Commission of Inquiry into the Reformatory and Industrial School System 1934–36 (Dublin: Stationery Office, Saorstát Éireann, 1936).

(40) The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, vol. I, ‘Chapter 7: Artane’, http://www.childabusecommission.com/rpt/01–07.php (accessed 2 September 2014)

(41) P. Tyrrell, Founded on Fear: Letterfrack Industrial School, War and Exile, ed. D. Whelan (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2006).

(42) OL: Folder, 09/0/00103A, minutes of evidence of 1927 Relief Commission: Brother O’Ryan, 22 Sept. 1925, p. 12–1Irish Times, 26 June 1925

(43) OL: Folder, 09/0/00103A, minutes of evidence of 1927 Relief Commission: Brother O’Ryan, 22 Sept. 1925, p. 12–6

(44) Buckley, The Cruelty ManM. Luddy, ‘The early years of the NSPCC in Ireland’, Éire-Ireland, 44:1 (2009), 62–90.

(45) M. Raftery and E. O’Sullivan, Suffer the Little Children: The Inside Story of Ireland’s Industrial Schools (Dublin: New Island Books, 1999), p. 70; H. Hendrick, Child Welfare: Historical Dimensions, Contemporary Debates (Bristol: The Policy Press, 2003), p. 122.

(46) Report of the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor, p. 71.

(47) Hendrick, Child Welfare, p. 123; Maguire, Precarious Childhood, p. 40.

(48) Buckley, The Cruelty Man, pp. 112–14.

(49) C. Skehill, ‘Child protection and welfare social work in the Republic of Ireland: continuities and discontinuities between the past and present’, in N. Kearney and C. Skehill (eds), Social Work in Ireland: Historical Perspectives (Dublin: Institute of Public Administration, 2005), p. 127.

(50) Skehill, ‘The origins of child welfare’, p. 122.

(51) Ibid., p. 122

(52) Buckley, The Cruelty Man, pp. 15, 121; Skehill, ‘The origins of child welfare’, p. 122; Maguire, Precarious Childhood, p. 59.

(53) Skehill, ‘The origins of child welfare’, p. 122.

(54) KCL: KBHPA/A/1, Minute Book: Board Meeting, 7 July 1923

(55) KCL: KBHPA/A/1, Minute Book: Board Meeting, 10 Dec. 1923

(56) KCL: KBHPA/B/11, Correspondence: KBHPA to DLGPH, 16 July 1926

(57) Report of the Inspector Appointed to visit the Reformatory and Industrial Schools of Ireland, 1922–26 (Dublin: Stationery Office, Saorstát Éireann, 1926).

(58) KCL: KBHPA/B/11, Correspondence: KBHPA to DLGPH, 16 July 1925

(59) KCL: KBHPA/B/11, Correspondence: ‘List of names of children committed from the County Home to Killarney Industrial School from Feb. 1922 to July 1926’, 1926

(60) DLGPH Annual Report, 1934–5, p. 403.

(61) Seanad Éireann Debates, vol. 1, 15 Mar. 1923.

(62) KCL: KBHPA/B/11, Correspondence: ‘Return of children who were in the County Home, Killarney during the year ended 5 Mar. 1926 and were committed to industrial schools’, 1926

(63) KCL: KBHPA/B/11, Correspondence: ‘Return of the number of children in the county institutions showing their names, ages, state of health and the present whereabouts of their parents (1) County Home Killarney’, 1926

(64) Report of the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor, p. 31.

(p.145) (65) Initially provided for Listowel Poor Law Union in Kerry and five poor law unions in Limerick. The other district school was in Trim. The Glin District School was jointly run by the Christian Brothers and Sisters of Mercy; see Report of the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor, pp. 4, 7, 70; Crossman, ‘Cribbed, contained and confined’, 42.

(66) KCL: KBHPA/B/11, Correspondence: ‘Return of the number of children in the county institutions showing their names, ages, state of health and the present whereabouts of their parents (2) Glin District School’, 1926

(67) The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, vol. I, ‘Chapter 11: StJoseph’s Industrial School, Glin, County Limerick’, http://www.childabusecommission.com/rpt/01–11.php (accessed 1 Feb. 2014). A recent account by a former inmate of Glin also depicts the conditions in the Glin Industrial School; see T. Wall, The Boy from Glin Industrial School (2013).

(68) Maguire, Precarious Childhood, p. 4.

(69) Ibid., p. 10Buckley, The Cruelty Man

(70) KCL: KBHPA/B/37, Correspondence: ‘Copy of report from Inspector Mrs Crofts regarding unmarried mothers and children in the County Home, Killarney’, DLGPH to KBHPA, 22 Aug. 1931

(71) Maguire, Precarious Childhood, p. 54.

(72) KCL: KBHPA/A/26, Minute Book: William Hill SAO Report, 14 May 1936

(73) KCL: KBHPA/A/20, Minute Book: Board Meeting, ‘Committal of N.G.’, Aug. 1934

(74) KCL: KBHPA/A/21, Minute Book: Board Meeting, ‘Proposal to board-out M.R.’, 14 Feb. 1935

(75) KCL: KBHPA/A//21, Minute Book: Board Meeting, ‘Case of K.G.’, 10 Jan. 1935

(76) KCL: KBHPA/B/14, Correspondence: O’Mahony to KBHPA, 21 Jan. 1926

(77) KCL: KBHPA/B/14, Correspondence: Daly NSPCC Inspector, Tralee to KBHPA, 23 Jan. 1926

(78) KCL: KBHPA/B/14, Correspondence: Daly NSPCC Inspector, Tralee to KBHPA, Aug. 1926

(79) Maguire, Precarious Childhood, p. 4.

(80) KCL: KBHPA/A/6, Minute Book: Board Meeting, J. Walsh HAO to KBHPA, 14 Oct. 1927

(81) KCL: KBHPA/B/60, Correspondence: Shanahan SAO to KBHPA, ‘Home assistance and boarded-out children’, 13 Oct. 1934

(82) KCL: KBHPA/B/60, Correspondence: NSPCC Inspector Scott to KBHPA, ‘Home assistance and boarded-out children’, 30 Nov. 1934

(83) KCL: KBHPA/A/21, Minute Book: Board Meeting, 27 Feb. 1935

(84) See generally, Smith, Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries; O’Sullivan and O’Donnell, Coercive Confinement in Ireland.

(85) Cousins, The (p.146) Birth of Social Welfare in Ireland, pp. 105–28Cousins, ‘The introduction of children’s allowances in Ireland, 1939–44’, Irish Economic and Social History, 16 (1999), 35–53.

(86) Cousins, Poor Relief in Ireland, pp. 78–9; Crossman has demonstrated that the traditional perception of two-parent families entering workhouses and subsequently being separated was a rare event by the late nineteenth century; Crossman, Poverty and the Poor Law in Ireland, pp. 131–8.

(87) KCL: KBHPA/A/23, Minute Book: Board Meeting, ‘SAO Report on living conditions of J. C.’, 14 May 1936

(88) Maguire, Precarious Childhood, pp. 59–60; Skehill, ‘The origins of child welfare’, p. 122.

(89) DLGPH Annual Report, 1932–3, p. 318.

(90) Crossman, ‘Cribbed, contained and confined’, 59.

(91) Local Taxation Returns.

(92) For example, see KCL: KBHPA/B/13, Correspondence: DLGPH to KBHPA, 23 July 1926; KCL: KBHPA/B/32, Correspondence: DLGPH to KBHPA, 17 July 1930.

(93) KCL: KBHPA/B/51, Correspondence: KBHPA to DLGPH, ’Children in county home’, 22 Dec. 1933

(94) KCL: KBHPA/B/51, Correspondence: DLGPH to KCL, ‘Children in county home’, 6 Jan. 1934

(95) KCL: KBHPA/A/3, Minute Book: Matron to KBHPA, 14 Dec. 1925

(96) DLGPH Annual Report, 1934–5, p. 402.

(97) Ibid., p. 402

(98) Crossman, ‘Cribbed, contained and confined’, 51.

(99) KCL: KBHPA/A/4, Minute Book: Board Meeting, 17 Nov. 1931

(100) Ibid

(101) KCL: KBHPA/A/1, Minute Book: ‘Copy of report of Inspector Fitzgerald-Kenney on M.C.’, 13 June 1933

(102) KCL: KBHPA/A/17, Minute Book: ‘Copy of report of Dr P Collins, Medical Officer on M.C.’, 13 June 1933

(103) KCL: KBHPA/A/20, Minute Book: DLGPH to KBHPA ‘C. family’, 13 Oct. 1934

(104) KCL: KBHPA/A/20, Minute Book: ‘Dr Shanahan, SAO Report on C. family’, 11 Oct. 1934

(105) DLGPH Annual Report, 1929–30, p. 248.

(106) Report of the Inspector appointed to visit the Reformatory and Industrial Schools in Ireland, year ending 1923 (Dublin: Stationery Office, Saorstát Éireann, 1923).

(107) DLGPH Annual Report, 1934–5, p. 403.

(108) KCL: KBHPA/B/32, Correspondence: ‘SAO Denis Shanahan, Case of Boarded-out child B.W’, 10 May 1930

(109) Ibid

(110) KCL: KBHPA/A/22, Meeting: SAO Shanahan Report on P.K., 22 Nov. 1935

(p.147) (111) KCL: KBHPA/B/23, Correspondence: M.D. to KBHPA, 16 Jan. 1930

(112) Ibid

(113) Ibid

(114) KCL: KBHPA/B/32, Correspondence: SAO Mahony to KBHPA, 23 Jan. 1930

(115) KCL: KBHPA/A/13, Minute Book: Board Meeting, 9 May 1932

(116) DLGPH Annual Report, 1933–4, p. 317.

(117) KCL: KBHPA/A/24, Minute Book: Board Meeting, 26 May 1936

(118) Ibid

(119) Maguire, Precarious Childhood, p. 67.

(120) ‘Plea to include “boarded out” in mother and baby inquiry’, Irish Times, 30 June 2014.

(121) KCL: KBHPA/B/32, Correspondence: SAO Shanahan to KBHPA, 29 Apr. 1930

(122) Hendrick, Child Welfare, p. vii.

(123) M. Pugh, We Danced all Night: A Social History of Britain between the Wars (London: Vintage, 2009), p. 196.

Notes:

(6) Ibid., p. 51

(7) Report of the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor, p. 57L. Earner-Byrne, ‘“Parading their poverty”’: widows in twentieth-century Ireland’, in B. Farago and M. Sullivan (eds), Facing the Other: Interdisciplinary Studies on Race, Class and Gender in Ireland (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008), pp. 32–46.

(11) Ibid., p. 15

(15) Ibid., p. 42

(16) Ibid., p. 17

(17) Ibid., p. 24

(18) Ibid., p. 30

(p.143) (19) Ibid., p. 39

(22) J. Barnes, Irish Industrial Schools, 1868–1908: Origins and Development (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1989).

(25) KCL: KBHPA/B/6, Correspondence: E.P. McCarron, Sec. of the DLGPH: Circular to Boards of Health and Public Assistance, 2 Sept. 1924

(27) Ibid

(29) Irish Times, 17 July 1925OL: Folder/02/0/00103A, minutes of evidence of 1927 Relief Commission: Maria Lynch, 10 Feb. 1926, p. 27–76

(33) OL: Folder, 09/0/00103A, minutes of evidence of 1927 Relief Commission: (p.144) Brother O’Ryan, Manager of Artane Industrial School, 22 Sept. 1925, p. 12–1

(34) Ibid., p. 12–6

(35) Ibid., p. 12–8

(36) Ibid., p. 12–9

(37) Ibid., p. 12–6

(38) D. Lackerstein, National Regeneration in Vichy France: Ideas and Policies, 1930–44 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2013), p. 225.

(39) Commission of Inquiry into the Reformatory and Industrial School System 1934–36 (Dublin: Stationery Office, Saorstát Éireann, 1936).

(40) The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, vol. I, ‘Chapter 7: Artane’, http://www.childabusecommission.com/rpt/01–07.php (accessed 2 September 2014)

(41) P. Tyrrell, Founded on Fear: Letterfrack Industrial School, War and Exile, ed. D. Whelan (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2006).

(42) OL: Folder, 09/0/00103A, minutes of evidence of 1927 Relief Commission: Brother O’Ryan, 22 Sept. 1925, p. 12–1Irish Times, 26 June 1925

(43) OL: Folder, 09/0/00103A, minutes of evidence of 1927 Relief Commission: Brother O’Ryan, 22 Sept. 1925, p. 12–6

(44) Buckley, The Cruelty ManM. Luddy, ‘The early years of the NSPCC in Ireland’, Éire-Ireland, 44:1 (2009), 62–90.

(45) M. Raftery and E. O’Sullivan, Suffer the Little Children: The Inside Story of Ireland’s Industrial Schools (Dublin: New Island Books, 1999), p. 70; H. Hendrick, Child Welfare: Historical Dimensions, Contemporary Debates (Bristol: The Policy Press, 2003), p. 122.

(49) C. Skehill, ‘Child protection and welfare social work in the Republic of Ireland: continuities and discontinuities between the past and present’, in N. Kearney and C. Skehill (eds), Social Work in Ireland: Historical Perspectives (Dublin: Institute of Public Administration, 2005), p. 127.

(51) Ibid., p. 122

(54) KCL: KBHPA/A/1, Minute Book: Board Meeting, 7 July 1923

(55) KCL: KBHPA/A/1, Minute Book: Board Meeting, 10 Dec. 1923

(56) KCL: KBHPA/B/11, Correspondence: KBHPA to DLGPH, 16 July 1926

(57) Report of the Inspector Appointed to visit the Reformatory and Industrial Schools of Ireland, 1922–26 (Dublin: Stationery Office, Saorstát Éireann, 1926).

(58) KCL: KBHPA/B/11, Correspondence: KBHPA to DLGPH, 16 July 1925

(59) KCL: KBHPA/B/11, Correspondence: ‘List of names of children committed from the County Home to Killarney Industrial School from Feb. 1922 to July 1926’, 1926

(61) Seanad Éireann Debates, vol. 1, 15 Mar. 1923.

(62) KCL: KBHPA/B/11, Correspondence: ‘Return of children who were in the County Home, Killarney during the year ended 5 Mar. 1926 and were committed to industrial schools’, 1926

(63) KCL: KBHPA/B/11, Correspondence: ‘Return of the number of children in the county institutions showing their names, ages, state of health and the present whereabouts of their parents (1) County Home Killarney’, 1926

(p.145) (65) Initially provided for Listowel Poor Law Union in Kerry and five poor law unions in Limerick. The other district school was in Trim. The Glin District School was jointly run by the Christian Brothers and Sisters of Mercy; see Report of the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor, pp. 4, 7, 70; Crossman, ‘Cribbed, contained and confined’, 42.

(66) KCL: KBHPA/B/11, Correspondence: ‘Return of the number of children in the county institutions showing their names, ages, state of health and the present whereabouts of their parents (2) Glin District School’, 1926

(67) The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, vol. I, ‘Chapter 11: StJoseph’s Industrial School, Glin, County Limerick’, http://www.childabusecommission.com/rpt/01–11.php (accessed 1 Feb. 2014). A recent account by a former inmate of Glin also depicts the conditions in the Glin Industrial School; see T. Wall, The Boy from Glin Industrial School (2013).

(70) KCL: KBHPA/B/37, Correspondence: ‘Copy of report from Inspector Mrs Crofts regarding unmarried mothers and children in the County Home, Killarney’, DLGPH to KBHPA, 22 Aug. 1931

(72) KCL: KBHPA/A/26, Minute Book: William Hill SAO Report, 14 May 1936

(73) KCL: KBHPA/A/20, Minute Book: Board Meeting, ‘Committal of N.G.’, Aug. 1934

(74) KCL: KBHPA/A/21, Minute Book: Board Meeting, ‘Proposal to board-out M.R.’, 14 Feb. 1935

(75) KCL: KBHPA/A//21, Minute Book: Board Meeting, ‘Case of K.G.’, 10 Jan. 1935

(76) KCL: KBHPA/B/14, Correspondence: O’Mahony to KBHPA, 21 Jan. 1926

(77) KCL: KBHPA/B/14, Correspondence: Daly NSPCC Inspector, Tralee to KBHPA, 23 Jan. 1926

(78) KCL: KBHPA/B/14, Correspondence: Daly NSPCC Inspector, Tralee to KBHPA, Aug. 1926

(80) KCL: KBHPA/A/6, Minute Book: Board Meeting, J. Walsh HAO to KBHPA, 14 Oct. 1927

(81) KCL: KBHPA/B/60, Correspondence: Shanahan SAO to KBHPA, ‘Home assistance and boarded-out children’, 13 Oct. 1934

(82) KCL: KBHPA/B/60, Correspondence: NSPCC Inspector Scott to KBHPA, ‘Home assistance and boarded-out children’, 30 Nov. 1934

(83) KCL: KBHPA/A/21, Minute Book: Board Meeting, 27 Feb. 1935

(85) Cousins, The (p.146) Birth of Social Welfare in Ireland, pp. 105–28Cousins, ‘The introduction of children’s allowances in Ireland, 1939–44’, Irish Economic and Social History, 16 (1999), 35–53.

(86) Cousins, Poor Relief in Ireland, pp. 78–9; Crossman has demonstrated that the traditional perception of two-parent families entering workhouses and subsequently being separated was a rare event by the late nineteenth century; Crossman, Poverty and the Poor Law in Ireland, pp. 131–8.

(87) KCL: KBHPA/A/23, Minute Book: Board Meeting, ‘SAO Report on living conditions of J. C.’, 14 May 1936

(91) Local Taxation Returns.

(92) For example, see KCL: KBHPA/B/13, Correspondence: DLGPH to KBHPA, 23 July 1926; KCL: KBHPA/B/32, Correspondence: DLGPH to KBHPA, 17 July 1930.

(93) KCL: KBHPA/B/51, Correspondence: KBHPA to DLGPH, ’Children in county home’, 22 Dec. 1933

(94) KCL: KBHPA/B/51, Correspondence: DLGPH to KCL, ‘Children in county home’, 6 Jan. 1934

(95) KCL: KBHPA/A/3, Minute Book: Matron to KBHPA, 14 Dec. 1925

(97) Ibid., p. 402

(99) KCL: KBHPA/A/4, Minute Book: Board Meeting, 17 Nov. 1931

(101) KCL: KBHPA/A/1, Minute Book: ‘Copy of report of Inspector Fitzgerald-Kenney on M.C.’, 13 June 1933

(102) KCL: KBHPA/A/17, Minute Book: ‘Copy of report of Dr P Collins, Medical Officer on M.C.’, 13 June 1933

(103) KCL: KBHPA/A/20, Minute Book: DLGPH to KBHPA ‘C. family’, 13 Oct. 1934

(104) KCL: KBHPA/A/20, Minute Book: ‘Dr Shanahan, SAO Report on C. family’, 11 Oct. 1934

(106) Report of the Inspector appointed to visit the Reformatory and Industrial Schools in Ireland, year ending 1923 (Dublin: Stationery Office, Saorstát Éireann, 1923).

(108) KCL: KBHPA/B/32, Correspondence: ‘SAO Denis Shanahan, Case of Boarded-out child B.W’, 10 May 1930

(110) KCL: KBHPA/A/22, Meeting: SAO Shanahan Report on P.K., 22 Nov. 1935

(p.147) (111) KCL: KBHPA/B/23, Correspondence: M.D. to KBHPA, 16 Jan. 1930

(114) KCL: KBHPA/B/32, Correspondence: SAO Mahony to KBHPA, 23 Jan. 1930

(115) KCL: KBHPA/A/13, Minute Book: Board Meeting, 9 May 1932

(117) KCL: KBHPA/A/24, Minute Book: Board Meeting, 26 May 1936

(120) ‘Plea to include “boarded out” in mother and baby inquiry’, Irish Times, 30 June 2014.

(121) KCL: KBHPA/B/32, Correspondence: SAO Shanahan to KBHPA, 29 Apr. 1930

(123) M. Pugh, We Danced all Night: A Social History of Britain between the Wars (London: Vintage, 2009), p. 196.