- Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898
The Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 (61 & 62 Vict. c. 37) is a piece of legislation passed as an
Act of Parliamentby the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Irelandin 1898to establish a system of local governmentin Irelandsimilar to that recently created in Great Britain.
The Act brought in a mixed system of government, with
county boroughs independent of county administration, and elsewhere a two tier system with county councils, along with borough, urban districtand rural districtcouncils. Urban districts were created from the larger of the town commissioners towns, while the smaller towns retained their town commissioners, but remained in a rural district for sanitary purposes.
County level services had been administered by Grand Juries, dominated by large landowners, farmers and businessmen since the seventeenth century. The Act broke the remaining power of the aristocratic ascendancy in the poorer parts of Ireland and passed these services to new, directly elected, county councils. The electoral franchise was greatly widened, to include all male householders and occupiers, a remarkable concession to popular rights, larger than the parliamentary franchise at the time.
The reform was effected by the Conservative Party Prime MInister
Lord Salisbury, and can be seen as a part of his attempts to "kill Home Rule by kindness". His other Irish reforms, such as extending tenant farmers' rights to buy their land with government funds and building over 10,000 labourers' cottages, were partly administered or pushed along by the new Council members, which then reaped the long-term political benefit.
The creation of the new councils had a significant effect on Ireland as it allowed local people to take decisions affecting themselves. The County and the sub-county District Councils created a political platform for proponents of Irish Home Rule, displacing Unionist influence in many areas. The enfranchisement of local electors allowed the development of a new political class, creating a significant body of experienced politicians who would enter national politics in Ireland in the 1920s, and increase the stability of the transitions to the parliaments of the
Irish Free Stateand Northern Ireland. The Rural District Councils, designed to allow the closest local control of some administrative functions, were abolished in the Irish Free State after 1923 to save money, but the Urban District Councils were retained.
In Northern Ireland, the provisions of the act were replaced in the 1970s with a pattern of unitary authorities. In the
Republic of Ireland, the act was amended by several Acts of the Oireachtasprincipally by the abolition of Rural Districtcouncils 1925 - 1930 and the inception of a system of council-manager government1929-1940 and the act as so amended has been replaced by the Local Government Act 2001
Changes in county boundaries as a result of the Act
The Act also caused a number of county boundaries to be modified, with the result that a number of baronies,
civil parishesand townlandsnow cross county boundaries:
Ballaghaderreenarea (the civil parishes of Castlemore and Kilcolman), traditionally part of the County Mayobarony of Costello, was moved from Mayo to County Roscommon.
County Sligoportion of the civil parish of Kilmoremoy along with part of the neighbouring parish of Castleconnor (part of the Sligo barony of Tireragh), were transferred to County Mayo. This area is to the east of Ballinatown.
* The parts of the civil parishes of Ballinchalla and
Ballinrobeon the western shore of Lough Mask, in the County Galwaybarony of Ross, were transferred to County Mayo.
* The part of the civil parish of Inishcaltra in County Galway and the neighbouring parish of Clonrush, part of the County Galway barony of Leitrim, were transferred to County Clare. This area contains the village of
Mountshannonon the north-western shore of Lough Derg.
In all the above cases, the areas transferred officially remained part of their original baronies.
* Most of the civil parish of Kilculliheen (the area on the north bank of the river
Suiropposite Waterfordcity), which had originally part of the old "County of the City of Waterford" and had then formed part of the County Waterfordbarony of Gaultiere, was transferred to County Kilkenny, but became a new barony of Kilculliheen in its own right. The village of Ferrybank remained part of Waterford County Borough.
* The island of Inishbofin was transferred from the County Mayo barony of Murrisk to the County Galway barony of Ballynahinch.
A number of county boroughs and other towns which lay on county boundaries had their boundaries redefined to include suburbs which were traditionally in other counties. Again, this resulted in baronies, civil parishes and sometimes townlands being split between counties. These towns (each run by an "Urban District Council", or UDC, created under the Act,) include:
Athlone(included areas from County Roscommon)
Ballinasloe(included areas from County Roscommon)
Belfast(included areas from County Down)
Bray(included areas from County Dublin)
Carlow(included areas from Queen's County)
Carrick-on-Suir(included areas from County Waterford)
Clonmel(included areas from County Waterford)
Drogheda(boundary redefined so that areas were exchanged between Counties Louth and Meath)
Lisburn(included areas from County Down)
Naaswas formed in central County Kildare
New Ross(included areas from County Kilkenny)
Newry(included areas from County Armagh)
These changes may sometimes cause confusion to those researching family histories from the
19th century, as sources prior to the 1898 Act will list these areas as being in different counties to the ones they are currently in. For example, the Townland Index to the 1851 Census of Ireland [http://www.seanruad.com] lists townlands under their pre-1898 counties.
List of Irish Local Government Areas 1900 - 1921
Local government in the Republic of Ireland
List of rural and urban districts in Northern Ireland
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