History of Social Work in the Republic of Ireland

Caroline Skehill

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online February 2010 | | DOI:
History of Social Work in the Republic of Ireland


While the origins of social work in the Republic of Ireland are generally traced back to the mid-19th century, it is often reported that the first “professional social worker” was employed in a paid professional capacity in 1906 by the Jacobs Factory as a welfare worker (occupational social worker). The first medical social worker (almoner) was employed in 1919 in Adelaide Hospital, and from the 1920s onward, qualified social workers were employed by both statutory and voluntary authorities. The first formal social work course was established in 1912 by Alexandra College (civic and social work) and a diploma in social studies was established at Trinity College in 1934, followed by University College Dublin in 1936. In researching the history of social work in Ireland, the particular history of the jurisdiction is important. Up to 1920, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland were governed by Britain. Even before partition, while being influenced by British developments, the history of social work in Ireland was also influenced by the unique social and political context of Ireland, most notably the complex symbiotic relationship between politics and religion. While Irish statutory and voluntary welfare services paved their own unique paths after the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, up until the 1970s there remained a strong connection, especially in relation to training, between social workers in the Republic of Ireland and those in the United Kingdom. Beginning in 1973, social work courses were approved by the United Kingdom Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work (CCETSW), and they remained under this governance until the establishment of an Irish qualification board, the National Social Work Qualifications Board (NSWQB), in 1997. This entry provides two types of references: those written in the present about the history of social work, and a discreet selection of articles written at key moments in the past that reflect aspects of this history.

Article.  7514 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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