In all the various discussions and debates stimulated by poverty and relief in nineteenth-century Ireland, studies rarely go beyond generalisations with respect to relief committee membership. The main aim of this thesis is to go some way towards filling that void by constructing a social profile of the local relief committee member. Using local directories, church records, local newspapers, estate papers and personal diaries, this study reveals the social, religious, and where possible, political backgrounds of relief committees in the four Poor Law Unions of Dundalk, County Louth, Inishowen, County Donegal, Ballina, County Mayo and Thurles, County Tipperary. The social structures within the four Poor Law Unions were examined, revealing a tiered system of wealth in both rural and urban areas. In terms of possible relief workers, it was the towns of Dundalk, Ballina and Thurles who had larger numbers of clergy, gentry, professionals and traders to help the poor in ti...