1898 Inebriate Act

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The inebriate reformatory system in Britain and Ireland emerged as a result of the 1898 Inebriate Act, which gave legislative standing to three institutions variously charged with the punishment, reform or treatment of criminal habitual drunkards. The Irish State Inebriate Reformatory at Ennis was the first in what the Irish Independent described as the ‘three kingdoms’. Conversion of the old county gaol began in 1899 and it opened formally with the admission of 35-year-old William T. in June 1900 on charges of larceny, receiving and being a habitual drunkard. The 1898 act stated that an individual must be convicted of the offence of being a habitual drunkard in order to ‘qualify’ for detention in the reformatory. Of the 330 inebriates detained in Ennis between 1900 and 1918, 204 were women while 126 were men. One hundred inmates came from Belfast, 84 from Dublin, fifteen each from Cork and Galway, fourteen from Derry and the remainder in single figures from across the country.

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