Dr Marie Coleman is a lecturer in Irish history in the School of History and Anthropology at the Queen's University of Belfast.
The Irish hospitals sweepstake, initially established to provide money for cash-strapped voluntary hospitals in Dublin, provided funding for Irish hospitals for over fifty years. Apart from its role in bringing millions of pounds of foreign currency into Ireland to build new hospitals and provide employment, it also contributed to the development of Irish advertising and broadcasting, horse-racing, the growth of Irish business and commercial sponsorship of sport. But that was not the whole story. Marie Coleman also digs deep into the murkier side of the Irish Sweep. She successfully reveals scandals, skulduggery and gangsterism, which all played their part in the sweepstakes, exposing the blind eyes that were turned to its shortcomings and exploring the extent to which these failings ultimately damaged the Irish health services by postponing necessary reforms.Using original archive material, "The Irish Sweep" successfully draws together these disparate aspects of the sweepstake - its social and economic importance in independent Ireland, its contribution to the development of Irish health services, and its illicit operation outside Ireland - to construct the first detailed and comprehensive history of an iconic institution.
- The Origins of the Irish Hospitals Sweepstake
- The Sweepstake in Ireland in the 1930s
- The Development of Irish Hospitals in the 1930s
- The Sweepstake in Great Britain in the 1930s
- The Sweepstake in North America in the 1930s
- Survival and Recovery 1939-61
- Decline and Closure 1961-87
- The Sweepstake and Hospital Development 1939-87
- Accounts of Sweepstake Draws
“Hugely impressive... always engaging, often fascinating, original, fluidly written and very well researched.”
“Marie Coleman’s history of the Irish Hospitals Sweepstake gives a fascinating picture of mid-20th century Ireland – still somewhat closed off from the world and with economic activity sluggish. An Irish get-rich-quick scheme had romantic, not to say illicit, connotations abroad, and produced beneficial results for the health system at home, as well as providing employment for 4,000 clerical workers at Ballsbridge. The quickest to get rich were the sweepstake’s promoters, who enjoyed wealth beyond the conceiving of most of their fellow citizens.
Marie Coleman’s carefully researched book is a work of history – she is a lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast … she shows how the illegality of sweepstakes in the US fed into a general sense of bending the rules (the American operation was controlled by two men with close links to the IRA; and the Irish postal service connived in getting around obstacles). And a clear picture emerges of how the Sweep, a private company once too big to be disciplined, became an embarrassment to the State whose legislation allowed it a lax attitude to accounting.”
John S Doyle
11 Dec 2009
See link to Irish Times review here: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/1211/1224260511592.html
“In a week after staff at Mullingar Hospital were left reeling by further bed cuts at the hospital, it’s worth recalling that it was money from across the world – through the Irish Hospitals Sweepstakes – that built the hospital, back in the 1930s. The story is told in a new book ‘The Irish Sweep: a history of the Irish Hospitals Sweepstake 1930–1987’, written by the Castlepollard-born historian, Dr Marie Coleman. Dr Colema ... is a graduate of UCD, and now works as a lecturer in Irish History ay Queens University Belfast.”
Read the full article at this link: http://www.westmeathexaminer.ie/
28 Nov 2009
So, what's your best read of 2009?
The Irish Sweep: A History of the Irish Hospitals Sweepstake, 1930-87, by Marie Coleman, (UCD Press, €28), is a comprehensive warts-and-all history of the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes, which focuses on its economic and social importance. Marie Coleman is one of Ireland’s finest up-and-coming historians. The Sweepstakes emerged in the 1930s because our newly emerging state did not have the financial capacity to sufficiently invest in hospitals and our healthcare system. The Sweepstakes was a means to bridge that gap. It was an Irish solution to an Irish problem. It became a feature of public health funding for over half a century in modern Ireland.
At a time when Ireland was pursuing policies of economic self-sufficiency, the Sweepstake brought millions of punts in foreign currency into the country. Its success abroad was such that during the Economic War the British government introduced legislation to curb the vast amount of money leaving Britain for Ireland and the Sweepstake.
The Irish Sweep brilliantly analyses the controversies and the contribution of the Sweepstakes to the development of our health services. It is both a serious work of history and an immensely readable account of an iconic Irish institution.
See the link here: http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/some-wellknown-faces-pick-their-favourites-reads-1981620.html
19 December 2009
Short of gift ideas this Christmas? Jennifer Ryan asks society's movers and shakers for their favourite books of the year…
Keeping abreast of non-fiction, Ferriter recently launched The Irish Sweep: A History of the Irish Hospital Sweepstake by Marie Coleman, “plagued by gangsters, corruption, and forgeries.”
20 December, 2009
“The van driver put his hands in the air and whistled innocently. The customs officer flung him to one side, leapt into the van and heaved one of the laundry bags onto the dockside. Another officer slit it open. Sure enough, the sack was stuffed with thousands upon thousands of Irish Sweepstake counterfoils. As the smugglers were rounded up, the customs officer must have mused upon the futility of his task. For every book of tickets that his team busted, a dozen more were still slipping through the system undetected. Those pesky Irish. Would they ever give up?
The Irish Hospitals Sweepstake ran from 1930 to 1987 and raised the equivalent of €170 million for the Irish health service, creating a network of over 400 hospitals, clinics and medical centres across Ireland. Its’ rather more covert aim was to provide its three founding directors with an income that spiralled them into the upper echelons of Europe’s wealthy elite. And if that required a little bit of systematic insider dealing from time to time, then so be it.
There are also increasingly sure-footed suggestion that profits from the Sweep, a lottery to which millions of people from Ireland, the USA and the British Isles subscribed, were being channelled directly into the coffers of the Irish Republican Army at a time when the IRA was forging major links with Nazi Germany.
Small wonder that the Reader's Digest declared the Sweep ‘the greatest bleeding heart racket in the world’. This is a story that needs to be told and told it is in Dr. Marie Coleman’s fascinating and brilliantly researched new book, The Irish Sweep.”
Full review here: http://www.turtlebunbury.com/published/published_reviews/pub_rev_sweep.htm
Historian – Turtle Bunbury
Irish Daily Mail
"Coleman, a lecturer in history at Queen’s University, Belfast, could have written a racy, sensational account of the sweepstake and its place in folk history both Irish and American, but she has presented a serious study of its operation and impact in a detailed book with diagrams and statistics. The photographs however give a hint of the glamorous showbiz aspect of the sweepstake, which brought hope and cheer to many a drab and difficult times. With recent controversies over the funding of the health service, this is a timely book reminding us of one imaginative solution to the problem that was successfully practised for decades."
Click on the link below to listen to Gay Byrne's comments about The Irish Sweep.
The review begins about 1hr 30 mins in (20 minutes in length)
Sunday with Gay Byrne
Sunday 21 February, 2010
A Tax on Foreign Fools
An unkind economist once referred to lotteries and sweepstakes as ''taxes on fools''. Wh
Newstalk Moncrieff in Feb 2010
Gay Byrne interview on Lyric FM
with Marie Coleman Sunday 21 February, 2010
(about 1hr 30 mins in)
Marie Coleman interview on
on Talking History Newstalk 25 April 2010
Marie Coleman discusses the life of Joe McGrath,
who ran the Irish Hospitals Sweepstake, on Dublin City FM, January 2015