This thesis will carry out a historical investigation into aspects of the lives and experiences of deaf people in Ireland during the period 1851 to 1922. It comprehensively explores, using a 'history from below' perspective, the beginnings of deaf education in Ireland, the formation of deaf communities, the relationship between deaf schools and the Poor Law boards, and deaf people's experiences in workhouses, courts of law, and prisons. It adopts a Deaf Studies perspective that recognises the existence of deaf communities and sign languages. Utilising a wide range of sources, it uses the technique of reading `against the grain? when examining sources such as Census of Ireland Reports and manuscript returns, genealogical sources, and institutional records from deaf schools, workhouse indoor relief registers, prison registers, and court files. Particular use will be made of electronic databases of newspapers of the period. The thesis begins with an outline of the beginnings of deaf education in western Europe and North America, with a brief summary of the different philosophies around deaf education throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It then describes the rolling out of deaf education through the country. New sign languages arising from the schools were then described; the male and female variants of 'Cabra Sign', ancestors of Irish Sign Language; and the widely-used signed variants of Protestant-run deaf schools, termed 'Claremont Sign' and 'Belfast Sign'. It is shown that the deaf schools fostered the creation of two communities of deaf people of different denominations. These communities are then profiled by population, employment, location, community and cultural development as well as household structure and marriage patterns. The relationship between deaf schools and the Boards of Guardians is then explored, showing that many factors could prevent the Poor Law provisions on deaf education from being implemented, primarily concern on the part of Poor Law Unions about cost. The result of this was a high percentage of deaf children whose education was incomplete. Next, deaf people's usage of and experiences within workhouses is explored via indoor relief registers. It is shown that deaf people made intense use of the workhouse, particularly for reasons of medical care. By the turn of the century, a large proportion of deaf workhouse inmates were inmates of asylum wards; however, others made frequent but short term use of the house for a multitude of reasons. The experiences of deaf people in court is then examined. Various legal issues are explored, including whether deaf defendants were deemed 'fit to plead' (if not, being declared `not sane? and committed), and deaf witnesses? ability to take an oath, as well as the use of various case law precedent in shaping different reactions to deaf defendants and witnesses. A dataset of court newspaper reports mentioning deaf people is assembled and analysed in terms of the sorts of offences charged, use of interpreters and writing. Following this, deaf people's experiences in prison are explored, particularly deaf convicts undergoing penal servitude. It is found that the Crofton system so highly praised by commentators of the time was not immediately accessible to deaf prisoners in practice. Yet despite communication between prisoners and staff being poor in prison, and the environment posing risks to their mental health, they made effective use of memorials and letters to communicate their wish to have their sentences shortened. The dissertation ends with a summary of cross cutting themes across the thesis and some suggestions for future research.