Donegal in Transition

The Impact of the Congested Districts Board

By Sean Beattie

In this accessible and lively book, local historian Sean Beattie explores the dramatic impact of the newly formed Congested Districts Board (CDB) on the economic, political, and cultural life of County 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, County Donegal 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 the local level, and breaking up large estates for the benefit of tenant farmers. Pursuing an aggressive policy of rail extension to develop communications and improve marketing, the CDB made it possible to travel by train across the county from Carndonagh to Burtonport. The most outstanding success story was the carpet manufacturing industry in south Donegal, with Killybegs Carpets being recognized as a world leader. Impressive results came from the Lace Schools in Ardara and Glenties, as well as other training initiatives. Coastal towns, such as Killybegs, became a hub of activity as new piers, boat yards, and fish-curing stations came on stream. In 1923, when the CDB closed its doors, there was a new air of optimism in the county.


320 pages

Publication Date: 11/30/2013
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9781908928290