Alice Mauger and Anne Mac Lellan (eds), Growing Pains: Childhood Illnesses in Ireland, 1750-1950.
Irish Academic Press has, yet again, facilitated the work of emerging scholars in Irish history. This book can be added to their growing list of titles which illuminate the intersections between social and economic aspects of the history of medicine. This carefully edited volume begins with the eighteenth century and the horrors of childhood smallpox. Gabrielle Ashford's systematic and well-researched work correctly highlights the importance of Lady Mary Montagu in introducing inoculations in Turkey. Conor Ward, who has written prize-winning works on the history of medicine, provides a wide-ranging paper on the development of Children's Hospitals in Dublin. Fittingly the volume is dedicated to this prolific historian of medicine who was also professor of paediatrics at UCD in the 1970s.
Anne Mac Lellan's original and informative article on Dr Dorothy Stopford-Price whets our appetite for her full biography which is due to appear later this year. Price pioneered the introduction in Ireland of the Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccine, which prevented tuberculosis. Many of these chapters emphasise the importance of significant individuals such as Price and her St Ultan's Infants' Hospital colleague, Dr Ella Webb, who established, in 1924, the Sunshine Home for Children with rickets. Laura Kelly's well-researched article explains that the Sunshine Home was a haven for malnourished children and it still exists in the twenty-first century as a hospice for children. Jean Walker's sensitive treatment of the applications of mercury to misfortunate children suffering from various venereal diseases makes clear the moral climate in which sex-related diseases were assessed. She also notes that sexual abuse of minors was not even considered. The assessment of childhood blindness benefits from Philomena Gorey's great knowledge as both a nurse and historian. She focuses on the famine era and the particular woes endured by those in workhouses. Both June Cooper and Ian Miller expand on the post-famine paediatric provisions for children, when nutrition-related illnesses abounded. In particular, our knowledge of institutional experience, such as that in industrial schools, is enhanced by these essays. Ida Milne's lively chapter on the flu pandemic provides an important corrective to recent accounts of the biggest pandemic in the twentieth century which killed more people than World War One. Finally, continuing the perceptive use of oral evidence, Susan Kelly compassionately analyses the fate of children with bone tuberculosis in early to mid-twentieth-century Ireland. Like Gorey she trained as a nurse; she later completed a PhD under the supervision of Greta Jones, who has pioneered the history of tuberculosis in Ireland.
The history of medicine is one of the growth areas in Irish history and as Lindsey Earner-Byrne perceptively notes in her foreword, 'certain themes reappear: the role of the carer, the potential power of determined individuals, the emergence of institutions and the impact of poverty'. The editors should be congratulated on producing a marvellously original volume that reads so easily although the themes are filled with the pain of the past.
Margaret O hOgartaigh
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|Author:||hOgartaigh, Margaret O.|
|Publication:||Irish Economic and Social History|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2014|
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