New publication on the history of nursing and midwifery in poor-law unions in southern Ireland

Published as one of six volumes under the Maynooth University Studies in Local History, Nursing
and Midwifery in the poor-law unions of Borrisokane and Nenagh, 1882–1922 (Four Courts Press, 2022)

examines the development of nursing and midwifery services in the late nineteenth- and early
twentieth-century poor-law union services in County Tipperary. The author Lisa McGeeney
documents how nurses in two poor-law union districts were employed in the workhouse
infirmary and fever hospital, while the midwives were employed in the dispensaries in the poor-
law medical relief services. The author makes a distinction between trained and untrained nurses
and midwives and examines how each was perceived, and she provides short biographical
sketches of several of the nurses and midwives. Also discussed is the role of district nurses who
worked under the auspices of the Women’s National Health Association in a public health
campaign to prevent tuberculosis, which was prevalent in Ireland in the early twentieth century.
While the book focuses on the way that state-supported health services were organised in two
districts in southern Ireland, McGeeney places the study within the wider developments that
took place in nursing and midwifery in the period 1882 to 1922, developments that ultimately led
to the professional regulation of nurses and midwives. This book is an excellent example of how
a local history can act as a case study of the important role that nurses and midwives played in
delivering a range of state and voluntary public health services in the decades before nursing and
midwifery attained state regulation. A registered nurse, midwife and public health nurse, Lisa
McGeeney is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Limerick.