Poverty in pre-Famine Offaly (King’s County) By Ciarán McCabe

 

In the decades before the Great Famine of the late-1840s numerous parliamentary inquiries were held into the condition of the poorer classes in Ireland. Political and social elites wished to understand the nature of Ireland’s seemingly endemic poverty in the hope of improving the social, economic and moral condition of the peasantry, as well as quelling the country’s tendency for social upheaval and political radicalism. The most significant of these inquiries was the Royal Commission for Inquiring into the Condition of the Poorer Classes in Ireland (aka the Poor Inquiry). Chaired by the Church of Ireland archbishop of Dublin Richard Whately (1787-1863), the commission sat between 1833 and 1836, holding extensive public inquiries (akin to court sittings) in parishes throughout the country, supplemented by extensive correspondence with persons of significance across the island, as to the social condition of the poor in their locality. The printed output of the commission – totalling more than 5,000 pages of detailed information, witness testimonies and statistics – constitutes an unparalleled source for the study of poverty in the pre-Famine period. The Poor Inquiry reports tell us much about County Offaly (King’s County) a decade before the Great Famine. Continue reading

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Health is cheap at any price

Health is cheap at any price wrote Dr George Moorhead to the Tullamore Town Council in 1930. This letter is of interest on the background to the adoption of the water scheme for Tullamore in 1895  and the shortfalls thirty years and more later. The Tullamore Town Council was established in 1900 and followed on the Town Commissioners in 1860. 156 years ago we had only a candle in O’Connor Square to serve as public lighting, no piped water and no sewerage. We did have a town clock and bell (now in the Tullamore DEW Visitor Centre).

Letter from Dr G. A. Moorhead M.O.H. to Tullamore Town Council, 4 Feb 1930 from the minute books of the council, now housed in the Tullamore Central Library archives room.

“As you will have under discussion this evening various schemes for improving the supply of water to the town, I wish to make a few remarks on the subject, nearly thirty years of age as M.O.H. it became my duty in the interest of the public health to take an active part in the establishment of a public water supply to the town, and I may say I was largely responsible for the adoption of the present scheme now in force. Continue reading