Opposition and support, 1850–98
in The Protestant Orphan Society and its social significance in Ireland, 1828–1940
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This chapter examines the two directly opposing views of Protestant Orphan Societies (POS) which emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century. At one end of the spectrum of opinion were Archbishop Cullen and Margaret Aylward who investigated the charity on the grounds of suspected proselytism. At the other end of the spectrum were social reformers who regarded the POS boarding-out scheme as an ideal child welfare model worthy of imitation. Cullen called for unity among Catholic bishops against Irish Church Missions (ICM) missionary progress in the west of Ireland. The Charitable Protestant Orphan Union (CPOU) had a clear purpose, 'to preserve the Protestantism of the orphans of mixed marriages'. POS, which continued to support 'the family system' as opposed to the placement of orphans in workhouses, met a specific demand for relief from the lower middle class who invested in their children's futures by subscribing to the charity.

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