Ciara BreathnachJan 10, 2023
Ordinary Lives, Death, and Social Class
Dublin City Coroner's Court, 1876-1902
Oxford University Press 2022
Ciara Breathnach's book Ordinary Lives, Death, and Social Class: Dublin City Coroner's Court, 1876-1902 (Oxford UP, 2022) focuses on the evolution of the Dublin City Coroner's Court and on Dr Louis A. Bryne's first two years in office. Wrapping itself around the 1901 census, the study uses gender, power, and blame as analytical frameworks to examine what inquests can tell us about the impact of urban living from lifecycle and class perspectives. Coroners' inquests are a combination of eyewitness testimony, expert medico-legal language, detailed minutiae of people, places, and occupational identities pinned to a moment in time. Thus they have a simultaneous capacity to reveal histories from both above and below. Rich in geographical, socio-economic, cultural, class, and medical detail, these records collated in a liminal setting about the hour of death bear incredible witness to what has often been termed 'ordinary lives'. The subjects of Dr Byrne's court were among the poorest in Ireland and, apart from common medical causes problems linked to lower socio-economic groups, this volume covers preventable cases of workplace accidents, neglect, domestic abuse, and homicide.
Roberto Mazza is currently a Visiting Lecturer at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter and IG: @robbyref