Precarious childhood in post-independence Ireland

Author: Moira Maguire

This study reveals the desperate plight of the poor, neglected, illegitimate and abused children in an Irish society that claimed to ‘cherish’ and hold them sacred, but in fact marginalized and ignored them. It examines the history of childhood in post-independence Ireland, breaking new ground in examining the role of the state in caring for its most vulnerable citizens. In foregrounding policy and practice as it related to poor, illegitimate and abused children, the book gives voice to historical actors who formed a significant proportion of the Irish population but who have been ignored and marginalized in the historical record. Moreover, it uses the experiences of those children as lenses through which to re-evaluate the Catholic influence in post-independence Irish society. The historiography on church and state in modern Ireland tends to emphasise the formal means through which the church sought to ensure that Irish social policy was infused with Catholic principles. While it is almost cliché to suggest that the Catholic Church exerted influence over many aspects of Irish life, there have been few attempts to examine what this meant in practical terms. The book offers a different interpretation of the relationship between and among the Catholic Church, the political establishment and Irish people.

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