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‘Dismantling the Poor Law system in Ireland’ – Brian Donnelly, 29 June 2021

During the height of the War of Independence, those Irish local authorities which recognised Dáil Éireann initiated the dismantling of the Poor Law system by closing many of the workhouses around the country which had been set up from the late 1830s onwards. This extraordinary development – the deconstruction of an entire infrastructure – was motivated by ideology and financial expediency and had far-reaching implications both for the people these institutions served and the communities in which they were situated. Brian Donnelly, Senior Archivist in the National Archives, will explain how this came about and what the long-term consequences were for Irish society in the first half of the 20th century.