Chapter

Public health

Caitriona Clear

in Social Change and Everyday Life in Ireland, 1850-1922

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9780719074370
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700693 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719074370.003.0007
Public health

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In 1850 health provisions in Ireland were patchy. Cities were well supplied with voluntary hospitals for the poor, and most county towns had public infirmaries and fever hospitals. Geary counts 171 hospitals in Ireland by 1845, and 664 charitable dispensaries. The collection of health statistics, urban sanitary reforms and health legislation led to an improvement in what is known as public health. The story of poor William Burke, diagnosed with smallpox, illustrates how developments in commerce and transport aided the spread of disease even as modern public health authorities tried to curb it. Like most social and medical reformers in all countries at the time, they thought of the poor as a particularly disorderly and troublesome organ of that body or sometimes even as waste matter. Many people in Munster recovered from smallpox and measles, but lost their sight, without ever consulting a doctor or becoming a public health statistic.

Keywords: smallpox; vaccination; Ireland; William Burke; Munster

Chapter.  7175 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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