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1 - Late Marriages and Large Families

‘The Enigma of the Modern World’?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 May 2023

Mary E. Daly
Affiliation:
University College Dublin
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Summary

By 1911 some Irish couples were limiting fertility. Marital fertility fell slowly after independence. The gap between family size in Northern Ireland and Ireland and between Catholic and Protestant families widened. The Irish Free State introduced legislation restricting access to information and prohibiting the sale and importation of contraceptives, legislation that reinforced Catholic teaching. Although similar legislation existed in other countries, it had much less impact than in Ireland. The near-universal practice of religion by men and women meant that Catholic teaching could be enforced in the confession box, and this teaching, combined with the valorisation of large families by Irish society, provided uncaring husbands with a licence to procreate, irrespective of the health or the wishes of their wife. Before the 1960s there was little information available about the ‘safe period’, a church-permitted method of regulating fertility, which was promoted by Catholic organisations in other countries. By 1961, despite marrying at a later age, Irish couples had the largest families in the western world, their fertility was seriously out of line with Catholics elsewhere.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • Late Marriages and Large Families
  • Mary E. Daly, University College Dublin
  • Book: The Battle to Control Female Fertility in Modern Ireland
  • Online publication: 11 May 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009314886.002
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  • Late Marriages and Large Families
  • Mary E. Daly, University College Dublin
  • Book: The Battle to Control Female Fertility in Modern Ireland
  • Online publication: 11 May 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009314886.002
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Late Marriages and Large Families
  • Mary E. Daly, University College Dublin
  • Book: The Battle to Control Female Fertility in Modern Ireland
  • Online publication: 11 May 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009314886.002
Available formats
×