Rediscovering poverty: moneylending in the Republic of Ireland in the 1960s

Robert Savage, Carole Holohan*, Sean O'Connell

*Corresponding author for this work

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In 1969 R.T.É.’s 7 Days dealt with the issue of illegal moneylending, claiming that Dublin was ‘a city of fear’ where 500 unlicensed moneylenders used violence as a tool to collect debts. The Fianna Fáil government rejected the suggestion that loan sharking was widespread and that Gardaí responses to it were ineffectual; a tribunal of inquiry was established to investigate 7 Days. Previous analyses situated these events within the context of government concerns over the influence of television journalism. This article takes a different approach, analysing moneylending ― rather than 7 Days ― within the context of the rediscovery of poverty during the 1960s. It examines how social and economic changes, including the growth of consumer credit and the re-housing of large numbers of Dubliners, combined to make illegal moneylending more
visible. Historical accounts of Ireland in the 1960s have had a top down focus on economic policy and growth. Here, the focus is shifted to personal rather state finances to offer a more nuanced portrayal of a decade often understood as a boom one. Moreover, analysing the nature and conclusions of the tribunal lays bare the contemporary resistance to those attempting to reframe the problem of poverty.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalIrish Historical Studies
Issue number168
Early online date24 Feb 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 24 Feb 2022


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