Letters of the Catholic Poor
This innovative study of poverty in Independent
Ireland between 1920 and 1940 is the first to place the poor at its core by exploring their own words and letters. Written
to the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, their correspondence represents one of the few traces in history of Irish experiences
of poverty, and collectively they illuminate the lives of so many during the foundation decades of the Irish state. This book
keeps the human element central, so often lost when the framework of history is policy, institutions and legislation. It explores
how ideas of charity, faith, gender, character and social status were deployed in these poverty narratives and examines the
impact of poverty on the lives of these writers and the survival strategies they employed. Finally, it considers the role
of priests in vetting and vouching for the poor and, in so doing, perpetuating the discriminating culture of charity.
Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. The social setting: 'is this a civilized country?'; 2. Artefacts of poverty: 'I crave
your holy pardon for writing'; 3. The 'poor' make their case: 'surely they are worth helping'; 4. Hidden poverty: 'I bear
my poverty in silence'; 5. The cost of poverty: 'to live or rather exist'; 6. Vetting and vouching: 'it would be a charity
to help him'; Conclusion: 'peopling the past'; Bibliography; Index.
A pioneering new 'history from below' of Irish
poverty told through the letters of the Catholic poor in Independent Ireland.