Letters of the Catholic Poor: Poverty in Independent Ireland, 1920–1940 is an innovative study of poverty in Independent Ireland and 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 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 the 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.
Dr. Lindsey Earner-Byrne is the Senior Academic Leadership Initiative Chair in Irish Gender History at University College Cork. Her work intends to extend the boundaries of modern Irish history by highlighting the importance of the history of gender and class to the foundation and reality of the two states on the island of Ireland. Her first publications focused on the history of motherhood in Ireland and she offered one of the first detailed historical considerations of the treatment of single mothers and their children in modern Ireland. More recently she has explored a history of Ireland from below centering vulnerability and marginality in her work on life in twentieth-century Ireland.