Dr Olwen Purdue

BA, MA, PhD (QUB)
Research Fellow

Tel: +44 (0) 28 9097 1298
E-mail:  o.purdue@qub.ac.uk

Olwen Purdue is a graduate of Queen's University Belfast where she completed an honours degree in English before going on to do an MA in Irish Studies and a PhD in History.  Before joining the Institute of Irish Studies she worked in the School of History and Anthropology, QUB, on the ESRC-funded project, 'Welfare Regimes under the Irish Poor Law'.  

Research Interests

Social history of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Ireland.  She has recently completed two years of research on the regional development of the poor law in the north of Ireland from the Famine to Partition and is currently developing a project on poverty, health and welfare in a divided society.  This research focuses primarily on the development of public health and welfare in Belfast from  the end of the Famine through to the beginnings of the Welfare State.  It examines the impact of urbanisation, industrialization and deepening sectarian division on the development of the city's health and welfare provision and on the experiences of the city's poorest classes, placing this in the comparative context of other Irish cities and British industrial centres as well as in the wider context of comparable urban centres in Europe.

Her doctoral thesis examined the changing role of the landed elite in the north of Ireland from 1878-1960.

Select Publications

  • The Big House in the north of Ireland: land, power and elites 1878-1960 (Dublin: UCD Press, 2009)
  • The MacGeough Bonds of The Argory: and Ulster gentry family 1880-1950 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2005)
  • 'Attacked from without and diseased from within? Northern Ireland's landed class 1921-60' in A Further Shore: Essays in Irish and Scottish Studies, ed. Eadaoin Agnew, Eamonn Hughes, Caroline Magennis and Christina Morin (Aberdeen UP, 2007).

Forthcoming Publications

  • 'Poverty and power: the workhouse in a north Antrim town 1861-1921', Irish Historical Studies (2010)
  • 'Sources for the History of the Irish Poor Law in the Post-Famine Period' with Virginia Crossman, Georgina Laragy and Séan Lucey, in published conference proceedings from the 2008 Conference of the Society for the Study of Nineteenth-Century Ireland (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2010)
  • 'Challenge and Chance: the country house in Northern Ireland 1921-2001' in The Irish country house: its past, present and future, Terence Dooley (ed) (Dublin; Four Courts Press, 2010)
  • 'Regional dimensions of the Irish Poor Law: the north of Ireland 1851-1921' in Poverty and Welfare in Ireland 1838-1948, Virginia Crossman and Peter Gray (eds.) (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2011)