Boards of public assistance and boards of public health were instituted in 1924 to replace the poor law/workhouse boards of guardians. Boards of public assistance responsibilities included, for example, poor/unemployment relief, hospitals and homes, services to the sick poor, boarding out of children, maternity services, and services to unmarried mothers. Boards of public health responsibilities included, for example, public sanitation, disease control, labourers' cottages, water supply and certain functions formerly carried out by the rural district councils.
There were 3 boards of public assistance and boards of public health in Cork city and county: South, West and North. Board members were appointed by the Councils. The Boards were funded by the city/county poor rates, and had executive authority. The South Cork Board of Public Assistance was shared between Cork County Council and Cork Corporation with 10 and 5 elected members respectively.
The former Cork Union Workhouse and infirmary at Douglas Road, which had been referred to as the 'Cork District Hospital' from c1898 onwards was officially designated by the County Scheme Order, Cork No. 1, 1924. The full list of institutions designated in the South Cork district by the Order was as follows:
"1. The South Cork County Home at Cork for aged and infirm persons, chronic invalids, idiots and epileptics.
2. A District Home at Midleton for aged and infirm persons, chronic invalids, idiots and epileptics from such places within the County District as the County Board may decide.
3. The Cork District Hospital at Cork for the treatment of Medical, Surgical and Maternity cases, and cases of infectious and contagious diseases.
4. Cottage Hospitals at Bandon, Cobh, Kinsale, Macroom, Midleton and Youghal, for the treatment of acute Medical, Surgical and Maternity cases, and cases of infectious and contagious diseases.
5. An Auxiliary Home at Bessborough, Blackrock, for such unmarried mothers and their children as the County Board may select.” (County Scheme Order, Cork No. 1, 1924)
In 1942-3 the boards came fully under Council control with executive decisions made by managers order. In shared city/county health districts such as South Cork, a Board remained with non-executive (reserved) functions, particularly in relation to the finance area. The new Board for the South Cork Public Assistance District included 8 County Council members and 4 Corporation members. Under the health act of 1953, public assistance (poor/unemployment relief) was separated off from health & hospital services. In 1960 a unified Cork Health Authority was established, comprising County Council and Corporation members, and local authority control continued until March 1971 with the institution of the Southern Health Board. In 1975 provision of assistance to the poor/unemployment relief by local authorities was taken over by central government.
South : 1924 – Dec 1957; also 3 vols. Records of business 1942-1947, plus 512 administrative files
North: 1924 - 1935
West: 1924-1942 (Also 1 vol. Record of Business transacted by the Assistant County Manager Sep 1942-Nov 1943 (CC/WE/PA/RB).
Also 1 vol. minutes of the West Cork Public Health and Assistance Committee 1944-47 (CC/WE/PHA/M)
Recording families/persons receiving public assistance (poor relief) , Oct 1925 – Mar 1973. These report books were kept by the City Superintendent Officer mainly for districts 1 and 2 in Cork City. District 1 comprised the north side of the city and district 2 comprised the south side. There appears to be a change in the arrangement of the Districts in 1961 to include areas outside Cork City. The books record the following information: names of applicants and dependent wives or children; age; marital status of adults, whether children are orphaned, deserted or illegitimate; employment; disability or cause of destitution; permanent residence; occupation and weekly earnings; insurance under National Health or Unemployment Insurances Acts; amount received from insurance, unemployment benefits or pensions; names of relations liable by law and able to assist; other observations; date of application for assistance and details of assistance ordered by the County Board of Health. Most books contain separate lists of assistance granted for Boarded Out Children on final pages of volume.