The English Poor Law system was not extended to Ireland. No Poor Law system developed until 1838. The established church established a number of alms-houses seeking to sought t to limit the places where beggars could beg.
An Act of 1703 provided for the erection of a workhouse in Dublin city for employing and maintaining the poor. It provided for the creation a corporation with powers to punish beggars and relieve the destitute within the city. It contemplated setting them at work in the workhouse for a period of up to seven years.
A tax was levied on hackney coaches and sedan chairs and a rate on every house in Dublin in support of the institution. In 1728 it was enlarged to include a foundling hospital.
In 1735 a workhouse and corporation, similar to that established in Dublin was established in Cork. Provision was made for the exchange of children from the Cork and Dublin workhouses to prevent parents interfering with the Protestant education of their children.
By a 1750 measure, the minister and churchwardens of every (established church) parish were enabled with the consent of the Justice of the Peace to give over any child found begging, either as a menial or apprentice for a term of years with any respectable protestant house keeper or tradesmen who would accept the task.
Counties were required to make arrangements to give support to those disabled by old age or infirmity while punishing and restraining those able to support themselves from begging. Each county was to license persons to wear a badge to indicate their virtue and necessity to include details of name, character and cause of poverty, sickness, infirmity etc.
Houses of Industry
Legislation encouraged counties to build houses of industry to be divided into four parts; poor helpless men, poor helpless women, austerity beggars, and idle and disorderly women. Children under 10 were taken into care by the authority. Deserted children might be sent to a charter school or might be apprentice.
The Irish Parliament established a Dublin workhouse in 1703 for the purpose of employing and maintaining poor persons. Dublin Corporation provided land and monies at the rate of £100 a year. The institution was managed by a corporation consisting of the Lord Lieutenant or Chief Governor, Lord Chancellor, Lord Mayor and Archbishop of Dublin.
The legislation contemplated similar institutions through the country. The county official in-charge was to make returns to the quarter session Justices were empowered to inquire into the condition and circumstances of persons and either continue or discharge them.
The Dublin House of Industry was partly national in nature. There were about 1700 inmates in the late 18th century. Although conditions were relatively good, the incarceration was dissuasive. The governors were authorized to apprehend beggars in the city. Destitute children between five and twelve were trained for apprenticeship, commonly through protestants institutions .
Charitable institutions were established to the country by private subscripts. Children were commonly abandoned at a young age due to destitution. Foundling children within the city of Dublin were the responsibility of their parish until the age of six. They were then admitted into a House of Industry and if possible, apprenticeship to trade Many foundling children died before six.
By legislation in 1727 parishes were to elect to a more overseers of the poor with responsibility for supervising and maintaining foundling children. This was added to the parish rate or cess. The legislation did not work in practice and practitioners # have moving foundlings from one parish to the other. To remedy this abuse, a levy was placed on every house in the city.
The Dublin Foundling Hospital was established in 1704. Children were to be instructed in the Protestant religion. In 1772 under statute the House of Industry was separated from the Foundling Hospital. The rate of infant mortality in the Foundling Hospital was high, up to 50%, and higher in many cases. In 1757, a nursery was established in each province for children given up by their parents at birth.
Legislation of 1750 provided that any child between five and twelve years found begging were to be apprehended and with the consent of the justice of the peace to be assigned to the most convenient charter school which might or might not be in his locality. It was an offence to withhold a child from a school who had been so assigned.
The first civilian hospital in Ireland was opened in 1726 in Dublin. Dr. Stevens died in 1717 leaving a will trust and in 1733 a hospital was established in his name containing 40 beds for poor patients to be chosen without distinction of religion or ailment.
The Mercer Hospital was founded shortly afterwards. By the middle of the 18th century a hospital for incurables and the Lying In Hospital the first maternity hospital were established. St. Patrick’s Dunn’s was established and became a university teaching hospital. St. Patrick’s Hospital was founded by Swift for mental disease. The Simpsons Hospital was established for blind and aged men and the Lock Hospital for venereal disease.
There were 10 hospitals in Dublin at the end of the 18th century. Some received regular parliamentary grants but most survived on voluntary subscriptions. When income fell short of requirements, appeals were made for a parliamentary grant.
Some hospitals were funded by charitable societies, in some cases through lotteries, church collections and charitable events. The famous Handel’s Messiah performance was sponsored by a charitable musical society to raise funds for a hospital for incurables. The Lying-In Hospital eventually became known as the Rotunda, situate its present location in the centre of Dublin.
County infirmaries were established through the country with public and private support. An Act of 1765 sought to provide a framework for the development of County infirmaries, making provision for a grant from treasury to supplement budgets.
The Church of Ireland was made a corporation for the purpose of erection of infirmaries. Provision were made for proceedings of governors and preparation of account. Parliamentary grants might be supplemented by grand jury grants.
An 1817 Commission inquiring into the relief of the lunatic poor in Ireland found that the provision was inadequate. A hospital attached to the House of Industry was the only facility available.
The Richmond Lunatic Asylum was completed in 1815 and authorized and supported by parliamentary grant. .The Richmond Asylum was established by Quakers on the same basis of another asylum in England. On its establishment, 170 patients moved from the House of Industry
A 1767 statute permitted the Dublin Society to use part of its grant towards outpatient medical relief for dispensing medicines. In the latter half of the 18th century a number of sick poor’ institutions were established. . The dispensaries were established to provide medical and surgical care and dispense medicines for the sick poor who could not get into hospital.
The dispensary movement spread throughout the country in the last decade of the 18th century. It was largely sponsored by donations by wealthy patrons. The dispensaries had been established by 1800.
Charter schools were promoted by the Irish Parliament. However, they were seen as proselytising and were not supported in the Catholic community. Despite a parliamentary grant they were underfunded at most times
The Charter Schools sought to encourage children from poor Catholic families into free education and industrial training on the basis of education in the established church. The society established under the legislation had power to withdraw children from their parents.
They had powers to take up children between the ages of five and twelve found begging and educate them in the school. Funds were first taken from private donations, and later aided by the proceeds of licenses and fees. Later, large grants of public money were made.
One of the best known Irish public schools was Kilkenny College, refurbished by the first Duke of Ormond in 1667. A number of Royal schools were founded as part of the plantation of Ulster, the most famous being the Royal School at Armagh. There were many private foundations which provided various degrees of education for practical and academic purposes.
University education for members of the established church was the preserve of Dublin University, founded in 1592. Wealthier Catholics looked to colleges on the continent while some Presbyterians went to Scottish universities.