Cherished equally?
Institutional provision for illegitimate children
in Precarious childhood in post-independence Ireland
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This chapter discusses the provision for illegitimate children in institutional settings. It is suggested that many unmarried mothers left the institutions in a matter of months, and many also took their children with them. Local authorities were concerned primarily with the cost of caring for children. Furthermore, evidence indicates that individual industrial schools ‘lobbied’ to have children sent to them in an effort to keep capitation grants flowing, and local authorities bowed to pressure to maintain children in institutions rather than foster families. It is true that some government officials and some of the religious orders who ran Ireland's industrial schools and mother and baby homes preferred to institutionalize illegitimate children rather than board them out or allow them to remain in their own homes. The narrative accounts of institutional life reveal that the lives of illegitimate children could be filled with abuse, neglect, rejection and instability.


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