Women and philanthropy in nineteenth-century Ireland

  • Maria Luddy


Religion played a major role in directing the philanthropy of Irish women in the nineteenth century. The most extensive systems of welfare were provided by Catholic female religious communities, but substantial and extensive charity was also provided by Protestant denominations. There was much rivalry between Catholic and Protestant charity workers, particularly in work relating to orphaned and destitute children. While the denominational basis of charity work prevented women of different religious persuasions from working together as philanthropists, lay Catholic women were profoundly affected by the limits placed on their activities by nuns. Lay Catholic women had no major tradition of organising in institutions or societies for charity work and, in consequence, the experience of organising for social change came later to Catholic women than it did to Protestant women. Catholic women were slow not only to join reform organisations but also to campaign for changes in social legislation or to demand suffrage.


Nineteenth Century Social Change Extensive System Religious Community Irish Woman 
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Copyright information

© International Society for third-Sector Research (ISTR) 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Luddy
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of EducationUniversity of WarwickCoventryEngland

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