In this accessible and lively new book, historian Seán Beattie explores the dramatic impact of the Congested Districts Board (CDB) on the economic, political and cultural life of Co. Donegal. The starting point is the year 1891 when Arthur Balfour as Chief Secretary established the CDB as a regional development agency for eight western counties, including Donegal. At that time, the county was recovering from the effects of the Land War and a series of bitter harvests. In an attempt to end the cycle of poverty, the CDB set out to raise living standards by promoting industrial development, investing in maritime resources, increasing agricultural output, opening up new opportunities for women through arts and crafts. Perhaps its most enduring legacy was the promotion of self-help to inspire confidence in the capacity of a rural development agency to generate reform and raise living standards in one of the most neglected counties in Ulster. In 1923, when the CDB closed its doors, it was clear it had succeeded in its objectives and in significantly improving economic and social conditions in the county, a new air of optimism prevailed.