This fascinating study reveals the desperate plight of the poor, illegitimate and abused children in an Irish society that claimed to cherish and hold them sacred, but in fact marginalised and ignored them. It closely examines the history of childhood in post-independence Ireland, and it breaks new ground in examining the role of the state in caring for its most vulnerable citizens. Maguire gives voice to those children who formed a significant proportion of the Irish population, but who have been ignored in the historical record. More importantly, it uses their experiences as lenses through which to re-evaluate Catholic influence in post-independence Irish society. An essential and timely work, this book offers a different interpretation of the relationships between the Catholic Church, the political establishment, and Irish people; it is important for academics and non-academics interested in the history of family and childhood as well as twentieth-century Irish social history.