Poverty in pre-Famine Westmeath
The scale of the Great Famine has overshadowed the prevalence of extreme poverty in Ireland in the period 1815-45. As economic conditions deteriorated in those years, the population increased rapidly. From the 1820 onwards, in the wake of famines and epidemics and an increase in agrarian violence, pressure mounted on the British government to address the problem of poverty in Ireland. In 1833 the government established the Royal Commission for Inquiring into the Condition of the Poorer Classes in Ireland. The commission held public enquiry sessions, at which the poorest people participated, in seventeen counties. The reports of those public sessions provide a detailed account of poverty in 1830s Ireland. This book uses the findings of the poor Inquiry for Co. Westmeath to give an account of economic and social conditions in the county in the decade before the Famine.