‘Donegal in Transition: The Congested Districts Board 1891-1923’


A comprehensive account of the impact of the Congested Districts Board on life in Donegal.


Seán Beattie, Irish Academic Press, 2013

In this accessible and lively new book, historian Seán Beattie explores the dramatic impact of the Congested Districts Board (CDB) on the economic, political and cultural life of Co. Donegal. The starting point is the year 1891 when Arthur Balfour as Chief Secretary established the CDB as a regional development agency for eight western counties, including Donegal. At that time, the county was recovering from the effects of the Land War and a series of bitter harvests. In an attempt to end the cycle of poverty, the CDB set out to raise living standards by promoting industrial development, investing in maritime resources, increasing agricultural output, opening up new opportunities for women through arts and crafts, introducing the concept of self-help at local level and breaking up large estates for the benefit of tenant farmers. In 1923, when the CDB closed its doors, it could claim to have succeeded in its objectives in significantly improving economic and social conditions in the county.

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