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Ireland: A New Economic History 1780–1939$
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Cormac Gráda Ó

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205982

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205982.001.0001

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Industry, c. 1780 — 1914: Problems and Prospects

Industry, c. 1780 — 1914: Problems and Prospects

(p.314) 13 Industry, c. 1780 — 1914: Problems and Prospects
Ireland: A New Economic History 1780–1939

Cormac Ó Gráda

Oxford University Press

Historians and others have suggested many reasons why most of Ireland failed to industrialize in the 19th century. One, long popular with nationalist writers, blames the mercantilism that preceded the Act of Union of 1800 and the imperialism of free trade that followed it. Other hypotheses include Ireland's paucity of natural resources, the ‘lack of private enterprise’, and the risks to life and property there. Another line of reasoning worth exploring is the role of luck: recent economic models of ‘path dependence’ have given greater respectability to sheer serendipity and ‘small historic events’. Yet another reason given is that Ireland's peripheral location, far from centres of large population, placed it at a disadvantage from the start. This chapter examines the theories for the failed industrialization of Ireland in the 19th century, including those associated with resource constraints, the turf question', entrepreneurship, crime, low wages and cheap labour, economies of scale, external economies, and path dependence.

Keywords:   Ireland, industrialization, natural resources, turf, entrepreneurship, crime, cheap labour, external economies, path dependence, wages

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