Donegal in Transition: The Impact of the Congested Districts Board


Seán Beattie

Lively & accessible study by local Donegal historian. The fascinating story of the impact of the Congested Districts Board on living standards in one of the most neglected counties in Ulster. Significant transformation & expansion of Donegal’s fisheries, agriculture, communications, education & culture.

ISBN: N/A Categories: ,


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.

Table of Contents

Chapter One:                Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Donegal

Chapter Two:               Arthur Balfour’s Impressions of Donegal

Chapter Three:             Contrasting Perspectives

Chapter Four:               Donegal at Work: From Cottage Industries to World Trade Fairs

Chapter Five:               Troubled Waters

Chapter Six:                 Making a Living from the Land

Chapter Seven:            Owners of the Land they Tilled

Chapter Eight:              Women’s Work?

Chapter Nine:               At the Grass Roots: Parish Committees

Chapter Ten:                A County with a Brighter Future

About the Author

SEÁN BEATTIE is editor of Donegal Annual, the journal of County Donegal Historical Society. He has published several books on the history of Donegal and has written articles for local and international history journals. He is the co-editor with Jim MacLaughlin of An Historical, Environmental and Cultural Atlas of County Donegal.