'An tOcras Mór' The Great Hunger.



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This note is for Co Antrim During the time of 1845/50 The Great Unger

Please feel free to add any information you may have about Co Antrim 1845/50

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During the Great Irish hunger , the Glens of Antrim did not fare as poorly as the rest of Ireland. The Earl of Antrim, now resident in Glenarm, and the Marquess of Derry organised relief schemes of food and money for their tenants and built soup kitchens throughout the Glens.


Glenarm’s soup kitchen is believed to have been to the rear of Altmore Street, along the river. The only other major historical event to occur in Glenarm during this period was in 1854, when a cholera epidemic afflicted the town.

The epidemic began in the Bridge End Tavern and rapidly spread from house to house. A large percentage of the population eventually succumbed to the disease and was buried in a mass grave near the back wall of the graveyard of St. Patrick's Church.


Belfast was Ireland's main industrial centre and attracted many people from the adjacent counties and from Ulster in general. Between 1841 and 1851 the population of Belfast increased by one third to c.103,000. The urban population suffered severely from fever with over 2,500 dying during the cholera epidemic of 1847/1848.

The cemetery, Belfast’s oldest Christian site, reflects landmarks in local and Irish history including the Great Famine.

This plaque was presented by the Irish government in 1995 and recognises Friar’s Bush as Belfast’s 'official' famine site.




This petition seeks your support for a campaign to:

* Persuade relevant authors, editors and website content providers to stop using the word ‘Famine’ for what took place in Ireland between 1845 and 1850, and start using terms such as, "The Great Hunger" or 'An tOcras Mór

PETITION LINK- TO CHANGE THE WORD FAMINE http://www.petitions24.com/when_famine_became_genocide_ireland_1845_-_1850

April 27, 2015 at 3:34 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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The Belfast Tragedy

A new book by West Belfast man Gerard McAtasney and Christine Kinealy charts

the startling hunger, poverty and

sectarianism of Belfast in the 1800s. Leona Breslin has been reading 'The

Hidden Famine' a fascinating volume revealing the true and devastating

extent of the Famine in Belfast...

Between 1845 and 1852 Ireland was devastated by the 'Great Hunger' - the

most severe famine in modern European history. The Hidden Famine is the

first book to examine in detail the repercussions of of that Famine in

Belfast. Many historians maintain that, because Belfast was a thriving

industrial base with a largely Protestant population, the impact of the

Great Hunger in the North was minimal.

This viewpoint has been widely echoed by Unionist politicians. Drawing on a

wealth of original research, Christine Kinealy and Gerard MacAtasney

challenge this view.

Traditional thinking in the North of Ireland has been that the Famine had

little impact on the northeastern corner of Ireland, especially on the

Protestant population. The belief that the Famine had no direct impact on

Belfast has been one of the most enduring myths of Famine history.

Contemporary evidence suggests otherwise. In July 1847, the Belfast Orange

Lodge lamented that the recent Famine had "thinned out our local population

and removed many of our loyal brethren." And in recognition of this, it was

recorded that no music was played at the traditional Boyne celebration of

that year.

More recently, a number of Unionist politicians reacted angrily when the

British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, issued a statement that "Those who

governed in London at the time failed their people through standing by while

a crop failure turned into massive human tragedy."

In the same year, members of the DUP opposed a motion by nationalist members

of Belfast City Council to erect a stained glass window in the City Hall, as

a commemoration to those who died in the town during the Famine. Belfast's

Lord Mayor Sammy Wilson argued that to erect such a monument would give Sinn

Féin - "the monsters of manufacturing and media manipulation" - a propaganda

victory. Moreover, he said that, "there is no evidence that the Famine

played any part in the history of Belfast."

Well I suggest Mr Wilson reads The Hidden Famine. There is no doubt he will

have his eyes opened.

The book provides a fascinating insight into life in Belfast during the

Great Famine. Filthy living conditions were common throughout the city and

were exacerbated by the non-regulation of tides. Thus, during the daily high

tides, sea water passed up into the main sewers of the town in Victoria

Street, High Street, North Street and Great George's Street and inundated

low-lying districts.

Many streets became channels for both animal and human refuse and

consequently posed a serious threat to public health.

Conditions on the interior of the houses were little better than those


Bedding often consisted of damp straw, while, more often that not, people

slept in the clothes they had worn during the day.

Many of the poorest classes used sowen for breakfast and supper, some voiced

concern that it was "the lowest kind of diet, fit only for pigs."

By the spring of 1847, there were more than 1,300 fever patients in the

various hospitals throughout Belfast. Death became commonplace and visible

even in the city centre. From the summer of that year, newspapers were

carrying frequent reports of Famine-related deaths occurring in the streets.

One such report cites the plight of a poor woman from Lisburn who lay down

on the path at Chichester Street and died beside her husband and child.

Another clipping reports that a male and female were observed supporting

each other in York Street. The woman was said to have sat down before her

husband stretched her on the pavement - she died in a few minutes. At noon

on the same day, a mother with an emaciated child slumped down under a shop

window in High Street. The child died in her arms five minutes later.

On June 18, 1847 the News Letter broke the news that decent burials could no

longer be afforded or provided for the good people of Belfast. The story

centred around the overcrowded conditions of the city's graveyards. The

paper claimed they were filled with putrefying bodies which were in many

cases buried "little more than two feet below the ground and the graves were

being literally riddled with rat holes." One can only imagine the stench

which hung over Belfast at that tragic time.

The three graveyards in the town - Friar's Bush, Shankill and Clifton

Street - were filled to capacity.

Therefore, the Board of Guardians devised a plan to bury the workhouse dead

in pauper graves in the workhouse grounds, many in multiple graves.

During the Famine period, Belfast not only had to content with the

destitution of its own population, but the authorities also had to cope with

the influx of desperate paupers from the surrounding countryside in search

of employment, relief or a passage out of Ireland.

The Hidden Famine takes the reader through these relatively unexamined

turbulent years and offers an insight into the pain and suffering of the

Belfast people during the Famine.

Kinealy and MacAtasney set about their task with an examination of Belfast

prior to 1845, especially the poorest classes within the town.

They assess the official response to the crisis by the British Government,

the response by the Protestant churches in England and Ireland, and the part

played by the local administration in Ulster.

They examine the impact on Belfast of the 1849-50 cholera epidemic, the town

's recovery after the Famine, and the emergence of a new form of

sectarianism among the business and landed classes.

The Hidden Famine provides us with eye-opening and gripping facts about our

city during the Famine, previously unstirred emotions are churned up at the

turn of every page.

The fact that many men, women and children, weak from hunger, fell and died

on the very streets we walk today is, like thi book itself, moving,

fascinating and disturbing.

The Hidden Famine (Pluto) is available from all good bookshops now priced at






This petition seeks your support for a campaign to:

* Persuade relevant authors, editors and website content providers to stop using the word ‘Famine’ for what took place in Ireland between 1845 and 1850, and start using terms such as, "The Great Hunger" or 'An tOcras Mór

PETITION LINK- TO CHANGE THE WORD FAMINE http://www.petitions24.com/when_famine_became_genocide_ireland_1845_-_1850

April 27, 2015 at 3:34 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 1033


With regards several family members in the same home or internet cafe all wanting to sign this petition at the same time Yes this can be done .

Any amount of people in a household/Cafe can sign it .

There is no problems with all you're family & friends using the same internet account .

Each signature requires its own email address

We do need signatures, not just shares






This petition seeks your support for a campaign to:

* Persuade relevant authors, editors and website content providers to stop using the word ‘Famine’ for what took place in Ireland between 1845 and 1850, and start using terms such as, "The Great Hunger" or 'An tOcras Mór

PETITION LINK- TO CHANGE THE WORD FAMINE http://www.petitions24.com/when_famine_became_genocide_ireland_1845_-_1850

April 27, 2015 at 3:35 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 1033

Mrs. Josephine Masterson continues her assault on Famine-era Irish genealogical sources with this transcription of 1851 census records for County Antrim, and it may be her most ambitious effort to date. Most of the 1851 Irish census was destroyed in the 1922 fire at the Four Courts in Dublin. The largest collection of surviving census fragments pertains to County Antrim and to the following parishes in particular: Aghagallon, Aghalee, Ballinderry, Ballymoney, Craigs, Dunaghy, Grange, Killead, Kilwaughter, Larne, Rasharkin, and Tickmacrevan.

Working from microfilm copies of the 1851 census available from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Mrs. Masterson has transcribed data on all 28,000 persons enumerated in the surviving records for County Antrim. The records are arranged by Irish parish and thereunder by townland, and they are grouped by household in the same sequence as they were tallied in 1851.

The forms can provide the following details:


relationship to head of household


marital status

year of marriage

place of birth (if not from County Antrim)



Recently deceased members of a household, who were tallied on a separate schedule, are also transcribed here with an indication of the date and cause of death and their former occupation.

The database also includes reproductions of the census schedules, Mrs. Masterson’s Introduction and key to abbreviations, and a list of all parishes/townlands for which census fragments have survived. An every-name index at the back of the volume is keyed to family group numbers, not page numbers in this book. http://search.ancestry.co.uk/search/db.aspx?dbid=49109

April 27, 2015 at 4:51 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 1033

Belfast.... The Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers, believed there was a simple answer to starvation. Acting with a directness which would not shame the most modern relief agency, the Quakers set out to feed the people.

In January 1847, as the Great Famine was moving into its third year, the Illustrated London News described the Society of Friends’ Soup House in Cork city providing nourishment 'at a loss, or rather cost, of from £120 to £150 per month to supporters of the design. The present calls are for from 150 to 180 gallons daily, requiring 120 pounds of good beef, 27 pounds of rice, 27 pounds of oatmeal, 27 pounds of split peas, and 14 ounces of spices, with a quantity of vegetables. Tickets, at one penny each, are unsparingly distributed.'

Meanwhile the government’s cumbersome scheme of public works was breaking down – the starving were simply too weak and sick to earn enough to feed their families. An Act for the Temporary Relief of Destitute Persons in Ireland, passed in February 1847, was, in effect, an open admission by Lord John Russell’s Whig government that its policies had failed. Henceforth relief would be provided by the free distribution of soup.

A formidable new bureaucracy had to be created and some 10,000 account books, 80,000 sheets and 3 million ration tickets had to be printed before the new machinery could be set in motion. However, the government soup kitchens saved more lives than any other measure taken during the Famine. By July 1847 more than three million people were being fed every day.

For many, however, the soup kitchens had come too late. People, weakened by starvation, were falling victim to fever and dying in their thousands. Deaths resulted principally from typhus and relapsing fever transmitted by lice; the ‘bloody flux’ or bacillary dysentery; ‘famine dropsy’ or hunger oedema; and scurvy.

Fever not only struck the emaciated frames of the starving but also those who ministered to the sick and dying – in one year, for example, seven doctors died of fever in Cavan town and Lord Lurgan, Chairman of the Board of Guardians of Lurgan Union Workhouse, was a high profile victim of typhus fever. Hordes of the poor brought disease eastwards to Dublin and Belfast in particular.

Dr Andrew Malcolm, who worked day and night to treat those stricken by fever, recalled the influx of the starving into Belfast: 'Famine was depicted in the look, in the hue, in the voice, and the gait. The food of a nation had been cut off; the physical strength of a whole people was reduced; and this condition, highly favourable to the impression of the plague-breath, resulted in the most terrible epidemic that this Island ever experienced.'

The hospitals in the town were overflowing, the Belfast News-Letter reported in July 1847,'yet hundreds…are daily exposed in the delirium of this frightful malady, on the streets, or left to die in their filthy and ill-ventilated hovels…It is now a thing of daily occurrence to see haggard, sallow and emaciated beings, stricken down by fever or debility from actual want, stretched prostrate upon the footways of our streets and bridges.'

The fine summer of 1847 ensured that the grain harvest was excellent and kept the blight at bay. But the acreage planted with what few tubers had survived two years of famine was so small that the poor still faced mass starvation. Nevertheless, the government declared the Famine was over in September 1847. In the same month the distribution of soup stopped in almost all districts.

From now on, the burden of relief was to fall entirely on the workhouses financed by Irish ratepayers. This was, unquestionably, the harshest decision made by Westminster during the Famine.

The destitute were refused relief outside the workhouse. To gain admission, applicants had to agree to accept the harsh discipline and work at breaking stone, etc., and husbands were separated from wives, and mothers from their children. Because nothing else was offered to them, the starving crowded into the workhouses. In the densely packed buildings, fever spread with fearful rapidity.

The condition of Enniskillen workhouse was typical. The roof of the temporary fever hospital fell in on 7th January 1848 and it still had not been fixed when Temporary Inspector d’Arcy reported on 2nd March.

He came upon 29 patients sharing beds in one small room, and, he continued: 'Immediately previous to my visit there had been five children in one bed, three of whom were in fever and two in small-pox…No statement of mine can convey an idea of the wretched condition the inmates of this house were in; I have frequently heard the horrors of Skibbereen quoted, but they can hardly have exceeded these.'

Little wonder then that, for many of the starving, flight from Ireland overseas seemed the only option

April 27, 2015 at 4:51 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Posts: 1033

By Dr. Christine Kinealy


For many decades, the existence of the Great Famine in Belfast was either ignored or denied. To some extent, this was due to political reasons – a Unionist belief that their Protestant ancestors in the north east of the country were both different and superior to the Catholic majority in the rest of the country. Poverty and famine, therefore, were not part of their history.


To some degree, this myth was validated by a number of Irish scholars who either avoided undertaking research in archives in the north of the country, or reiterated the fallacy that northern Protestants in the nineteenth century did not suffer from the same levels of poverty or hunger as Catholics. This approach was summed up by an eminent historian who had written: "Ulster fared better than the average experience of the island … The Protestant people of that province suffered less severely from famine." It is only in the last few years that this orthodoxy has been challenged and new research has proved that the poor in Protestant areas, such as Shankill and Ballymacarrett in Belfast, suffered from high levels of hunger, disease and mortality after 1845.


The population of Belfast in the mid-nineteenth century was predominantly Presbyterian. Spatially, the town (it did not become a city until later in the century) was divided, with the many of the poor living in either Protestant or Catholic enclaves. By the 1840s, Belfast was in the easily stages of industrialization, with the factory production of linen expanding, as rural, domestic production contracted. Despite the presence of a number of factories, including those serving the linen and the nascent ship-building industries, there existed a large Protestant "under-class" many of whom were poorly paid, economically vulnerable and largely invisible. Although part of a wage economy, their primary diet consisted of potatoes.


The impact of the first failure of the potato crop in 1845 had an immediate impact on the town. In early November, a meeting was convened in Belfast, which was described in a local newspaper as being, "very large and respectable." During the course of the meeting, the high price of potatoes, which had made them out-of-reach to the local poor, was discussed. Interestingly, the meeting also appealed to the British government to pass legislation to close the ports, that is, to forbid food from being exported from Ireland during the crisis. The people of Belfast were not the only ones to make this request, but it fell on deaf ears in London, both the Tory and Whig governments being committed to free trade.


The second and more serious failure of the potato crop in 1846 coincided with both a poor corn (wheat, oats, barley) harvest and an economic recession throughout Europe, which was particularly serious in the United Kingdom. The consequences for Belfast were severe and immediate. Large-scale unemployment combined with spiraling food prices left many of the poor, from all religions, without the means to obtain food. By the beginning of 1847, newspapers were reporting that the local institutions set up to provide relief were unable to cope with the demands being placed on them. In the Protestant community of Ballymacarrett, private soups kitchens had been established which were feeding an estimated 3,000 people a day and the number was growing. Across the town, in the Catholic district of Smithfield, a private soup kitchen had also been opened.


Despite these efforts, destitution, disease and death stalked the streets of Belfast throughout 1847 and 1848. The local newspapers were reporting daily instances of people being found dead on the streets, while the major cemeteries, including the Catholic Friar’s Bush and the Protestant Shankill graveyards, were complaining of major over-crowding. Again, the authorities responsible could not cope with the demands being placed on them. A visitor to Shankill recorded, "I turned away in disgust when I observed the manner in which skulls and bones were thrown up." More unequivocally, Dr. Drew, the leading Anglican clergyman in Belfast, declared that the town’s graveyards were, "shameful to any Christian community."


Belfast, similar to other major towns and cities in Ireland, was further disadvantaged by the influx of poor from the surrounding rural districts into the town. They inevitably put pressure on local relief provision. They also contributed to the spread of disease, coming into a town in which over-crowding was already rife. By April 1846, both the General Hospital and the Fever hospital in Belfast were "crowded to over-flowing." Such conditions exacerbated, rather than alleviated, the spread of disease.


Although the potato crop of 1848 was almost as bad as 1846, a good corn harvest and the inset of industrial recovery meant that parts of the east of Ireland were beginning a slow recovery from the worst impact of the Famine. Clearly, though, the recovery was not instantaneous. In 1849, for example, the Belfast workhouse was still renting four auxiliary buildings to cope with the demand for relief. However, a myth was slowing taking shape that the Great Hunger was a Catholic tragedy, and that the northeast of the country had been exempt from suffering. As religious differences polarized in subsequent decades, this narrative became the accepted orthodoxy.


Like Dublin and Cork, Belfast recorded a growth of population between 1841 and 1851, not due to an absence of emigration and mortality, but simply because the poor in the rural districts had sought refuge in larger urban areas. Moreover, in the late nineteenth century as Belfast developed industrially and became a world leader in shipbuilding, the population of the town continued to increase rapidly. Sadly though, sectarian divisions continued and the Great Hunger was increasingly remembered as being a Catholic tragedy that had not affected the poor of Belfast. In post-Partition Ireland, this narrative fitted neatly with a Unionist view of Protestant affluence and superiority.


Within Belfast, memorials to the Famine have overwhelmingly been situated in nationalist/Catholic communities and have mostly taken the form of murals, a number of which have already been painted over. A more permanent memorial, however, exists in the form of a beautiful stained glass window (pictured at left), situated in Belfast City Hall. The decision to install it in 1996-1997 proved to be controversial and was vehemently opposed by the majority Unionist majority parties. It was, however, supported by the small Progressive Unionist Party. This hidden treasure is well worth a visit when in Belfast.







This petition seeks your support for a campaign to:

* Persuade relevant authors, editors and website content providers to stop using the word ‘Famine’ for what took place in Ireland between 1845 and 1850, and start using terms such as, "The Great Hunger" or 'An tOcras Mór

PETITION LINK- TO CHANGE THE WORD FAMINE http://www.petitions24.com/when_famine_became_genocide_ireland_1845_-_1850

October 14, 2015 at 5:01 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 1033

Transcript Antrim

Dunmurry Glebe,

April 15th, 1847


The accompanying Resolutions were not passed, I assure you, in any captious

spirit, either in relation to the Irish Executive or the Relief Commissioners. We are

deeply sensible of the great ability, perfect integrity, anxious benevolence, &

extraordinary energy manifested by all the public Authorities, in Ireland, during

this calamitous year; but you cannot

[page 2]

feel surprise that, in a Country whose several parts are so different, no general

Law, or fixed Rules of action, should be universally acceptable.

Here, we have hitherto had an independent, industrious population; but we

seriously apprehend that extensive supplies, from the public purse, would break

down the manly spirit of our working people, & destroy the pleasant

[page 3]

relations which have heretofore, so beneficially existed between the employers &


I am, Sir, with

great respect,

Your faithful Servant,

H. Montgomery

W. Stanley Esquire.

[page 4]

[Draft Government Reply]


I. Acknowledge and state that if a Rate be not necessary, it will not be levied, -

and that if subscriptions be required it is only a Committee under the Act 10 Vic

Cap. 7 that can obtain a Grant in aid.

II. Send to the Inspecting Officer for Report.


I,II Done J McA


[Relief Commission Papers, RLFC 3/2/1/8]




This petition seeks your support for a campaign to:

* Persuade relevant authors, editors and website content providers to stop using the word ‘Famine’ for what took place in Ireland between 1845 and 1850, and start using terms such as, "The Great Hunger" or 'An tOcras Mór

PETITION LINK- TO CHANGE THE WORD FAMINE http://www.petitions24.com/when_famine_became_genocide_ireland_1845_-_1850

October 17, 2015 at 7:27 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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