Maternity and childwelfare:
setting the agenda, 1922–39
Ireland has been cursed with permissive Acts of Parliament1
The fight for national independence between 1919 and 1921, followed by a
civil war from 1922 to 1923, threw the Irish public health system into chaos.
Cumann na nGaedheal, the first Irish administration,2 battled between 1923
and 1932 to reinstall law and order, prioritising (largely out of necessity)
issues such as security, and political and financial reconstruction.3 Inexperience, conservatism and financial realities meant that the first
Childwelfare and local authorities
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
Maternity and childwelfare pre-Independence
So the babies’ clubs were started
in a real viceregal way
With a feast of cakes from Scotland and a mighty flood o’ tay,
An’ Mrs Aberdeen was there in
her disinfected best,
An’ swallowed with her tay as
Many microbes as the rest.1
The framework legislation passed in relation to public health, prior to Irish
Independence, provided the backbone and logic for the haphazard system
that persisted in Ireland until its overhaul in the early 1950s. However, the
debates generated by certain pieces of legislation, and the
The origins of childwelfare in Ireland,
This chapter will set the scene for the remainder of the text by tracing the
origins of childwelfare, from the introduction of the Poor Law (Ireland) Act
in 1838 to the introduction of adoption legislation in 1952. Both of these
dates are significant markers in the history of child protection – and while
developments up to publication of the Kennedy Report in 1970 will be
mentioned, they represent the core of the discussion.1 Overall, the chapter
will assess the role of the State, the Catholic
Motherhood is a complex issue involving the mechanics of pregnancy and childbirth and the life experience of mothering and rearing children. This book provides a detailed account of the history of maternity and child welfare in Dublin between 1922 and 1960. It places maternity and child welfare in the context of twentieth-century Irish history. The book offers accounts of how women and children were viewed, treated and used by key lobby groups in Irish society and by the Irish state. It explores the development of female 'social rights of citizenship' during the first forty years of Independence. Maternity and child welfare often provided the pretext for debate on issues quite apart from mothers and children, which related to the deep-seated fears regarding the power lines in Irish society. In Britain, awareness on infant mortality led to a series of investigative committees, including the Inter-Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration and the National Conference of Infant Mortality. A constant theme throughout the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s was how the standard of maternity and child welfare services varied throughout the country. The book discusses the Dublin experiment. In the early part of the twentieth century, the ignorance of Dublin mothers was blamed for the high rate of infant mortality in the city. The stringency of the Emergency period, the sustained atmosphere of deprivation throughout the 1940s and the British White Paper, A National Health Service stimulated a debate in Ireland regarding the public health services.
The Cruelty Man represents the first comprehensive account of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) in Ireland, from its foundations in 1889, to the passing of responsibilities to the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) in 1956. In both Britain and Ireland, the NSPCC was at the forefront of the child protection movement, yet the history of the Society in Ireland has not been fully addressed. This book aims to fill this vacuum. It provides a study of the Society, while also utilising it as a vehicle to examine the treatment of poverty-stricken children and families by the State. More broadly, it contains a comprehensive history of child welfare from the introduction of the Poor Law in 1838 to the publication of the Kennedy Report in 1970. It addresses issues surrounding institutionalisation, welfare, family violence, compulsory education, child abuse and the role of charity in the provision of welfare. Based on research of the available records of the NSPCC archive, and court records, the text also explores changing concepts of childhood. It will appeal to both an academic and general audience, as it uses case studies of families investigated by the Society and the State. It will be essential to students of Irish social history, gender studies, social work and social policy. More generally it will interest those observing recent reports into child abuse in State institutions and in particular the history of Ireland’s industrial school system. The foreword by Vincent Browne also demonstrates its contemporary relevance.
For much of the twentieth century women police often played a key role in the detection and prevention of child abuse, neglect and the 'policing of families'. This book examines the professional roles, identities, activities and experiences of women police in the United Kingdom. It comments on the gendering of modern surveillance technologies, on the relationship between justice and welfare, and on the changing situation of women in the twentieth century. The book shows that assumptions about class, status, gender and sexuality were both challenged and reinforced by women police. Although institutional structures and hierarchies - including those of gender -shaped the women police officers' professional experiences, the senior officers achieved considerable success in creating their own professional networks. The book examines the status and 'respectability' associated with women's work in the police service, and focuses on personal testimony in order to discuss women's perceptions of themselves. It analyses women's operations within the technologies of physical surveillance, dealing with both uniform beat patrol and undercover observations. The regulation of specific groups was done through policewomen's 'specialist' role: firstly, the policing of family, youth and child welfare; and secondly, the regulation of sexuality in relation to adult women. Given that police duties were shaped by legislative frameworks and by institutional strategies, opportunities to transform daily practice were ultimately limited. Despite positive and approbatory statements from women officers regarding integration, women as a whole were far less likely to be promoted than male colleagues in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Protestant Orphan Society became a social bridge that linked together throughout the Church of Ireland the humble poor and the wealthy and the great. This book examines the work of the Protestant Orphan Society in Dublin (DPOS) against the background of over a century of political, religious and social upheaval from Catholic emancipation, the Great Famine, social reforms to Independence. It first identifies the founders and supporters of the DPOS and their motivation for doing so. It asks why the Church of Ireland invested in the children of the church at this time. The book then analyses the Society's development, the grounds for support of private versus public poor relief for Protestant widows and children and stresses the crucial role that women played in the Societies' work. It examines the child welfare system implemented by the DPOS, and the extent to which its policies were forward thinking and child and family centred. The opposing views of the extensive social service carried out by PO Societies and the meaning of the charity for the Church of Ireland laity, particularly women, are explored. The book further examines applicant profiles, widows' reduced circumstances and health, attitudes to children's health, and bereavement and the attendant emotional effects. Using individual case histories the chapter examines applicant case histories which include Sean O'Casey's sister.
The history of relief work is in its infancy. This book draws on new archival research to reveal the priorities of nineteenth-century relief workers, and the legacies of their preoccupations for relief work today. It first explores the inauguration of the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War (NAS) at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 under the figurehead of Loyd Lindsay. Then, the book sees the revival of the NAS for work in the Balkans during a period of nationalist violence and Ottoman counter-insurgency which culminated in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. It also follows the staff of relief committees as they dispensed aid in British colonial wars. The book examines the critiques of British policy in the Boer War (1899-1902) emanating from intersecting circles of Quakers, New Liberals and ethicists, and considers these groups' offer of aid to Boer civilians. Further, the book concentrates on the methodologies of relief for Boer inmates of British concentration camps in South Africa and on the implications of this relief for its intended recipients during and after the war. It concentrates on aid to British soldiers. The book closes by tracing continuities in vocational practices and dispositions to emerging areas of concern in the post-war period, in particular child welfare, and briefly considers their implication for relief work today.
When General Charles Gordon lived at Gravesend in the 1860s, he turned himself into a child rescuer. This book contributes to understandings of both contemporary child welfare practices and the complex dynamics of empire. It analyses the construction and transmission of nineteenth-century British child rescue ideology. The book aims to explain the mentality which allowed the child removal policy to flourish. The disseminated publications by four influential English child rescue organisations: Dr. Barnardo's (DBH), the National Children's Homes (NCH), the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society (WSS) and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), are discussed. The gospel of child rescue was a discursive creation, the impact of which would be felt for generations to come. The body of the child was placed within a familiar environment, rendered threatening by the new social, religious and moral meanings ascribed to it. Ontario's 1888 Children's Protection Act required local authorities to assume maintenance costs of wards and facilitated the use of foster care. Changing trends in publishing have created an opportunity for the survivors of out-of-home care to tell their stories. The book shows how the vulnerable body of the child at risk came to be reconstituted as central to the survival of nation, race and empire. The shocking testimony that official enquiries into the treatment of children in out-of-home 'care' held in Britain, Ireland, Australia and Canada imply that there was no guarantee that the rescued child would be protected from further harm.