'An tOcras Mór' The Great Hunger.

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SWIFTY
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Posts: 1033

Appalling Distress of the Poor in Navan

 

The London Times, 3rd January 1837:

 

In the small town of Navan, county of Meath, about 26 miles from Dublin, a meeting was held on Thursday last, which was attended by the Rev. Mr. Hamilton, portreeve, the Rev. Robert Thompson, rector, Rev. Eugene O'Reilly, parish priest, and four resident magistrates.

 

It appeared from the reports submitted to the meeting, that the poor of the town and neighbourhood were in the most deplorable condition; that 310 families, comprising no less than 1,164 persons were in want of food. A subscription of £20 was received from the Earl of Essex, who is a large proprietor in the neighbourhood, and the collection on the spot amounted to £140, but this sum can afford nothing beyond the merest temporary relief during what may be regarded almost as a season of famine.

 

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Navan in the 1840s was what we would term today a Third World Town. By 1900 it had become a different place altogether, with the grosser ills that flesh is heir to largely eliminated - all, that is except death itself. The population of course declined in the meantime, although not all that drastically - from 6,000 to 4,000. But the vast majority of citizens in the year 1900 could experience life as a more or less endurable and pleasant thing with a fair and comprehensive system of safety nets below them to preserve them from chaos. How that happened and who helped bring this state about is the major theme in Navan's history between 1840 and 1900.

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WHEN GENOCIDE BECAME "FAMINE" : IRELAND, 1845 - 1850

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 7:14 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
Site Owner
Posts: 1033

Of the three main agencies of change, one was a natural phenonomen, another was government action - making possible and encouraging local initiative, and the third was the activities of official institutions of the Catholic Church.

The major agency in causing change in Navan was, of course, the Famine. In 1841 one third of the population was regarded as " the poor ". A substantial portion of the poor were not disabled, aged or sick. They were able bodied parents of families now more vulnerable to disaster than ever before, following the collapse of corn prices in 1815, and the failure of the cottage industries at home, to continue supplementing income.

When in 1845 the late crop of potatoes failed, the authorities felt they could cope with the situation. The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, boasted that until the Summer of 1846 when his Government fell, no one died of hunger in Ireland. When in 1846 the whole potato crop, early and late failed, efforts to control the situation were swamped by the magnitude of the disaster.

 

Relief committees were set up in Navan led by the local clergy and landlords. Ironically, the chief local landlord was Lord John Russell, Prime Minister of England, whose manor house was at Ardsallagh, Navan.

Although the Government matched the contributions of clergy and landlords pound for pound, their work had no substantial effect. The same can be said for the relief work schemes which were Government organised.

On the 25th November, 1846, Navan Workhouse , built to cater for 500 inmates in the Navan Poor Law Union of 34,000 population closed its doors. By January 1847, the Board of Guardians was forced to expand the space available by renting a distillery and coal yard in Academy Street and also at Dormstown.

 

Then, a hint of the full horror of the Famine experience, precise instructions were given for quickly building sheds with "economic bedsteads " made of loose deal boards which would cater for the vast numbers, who, weakened by malnutrition, were easy victims of the famine fever - dysentry, typhoid, and typhus - which swept through the land.

In the local papers of the time, the curtains blocking us off from the past are occasionally opened and we can see things as they were. At a meeting of the Guardians of the workhouse on 10th November, 1847, a motion - mooted by Mr. Skelly - was carried :

 

" that sheds be immediately erected on our own ground for the fever patients now exposed to the inclemency of the weather and that contribution be taken for erection of same ".

 

Mr. Skelly prefaced his resolution by calling the attention of the Board of Guardians to a detail of one of the most distressing scenes he had ever witnessed :

He was called from his residence late on that evening and rendered every assistance in his power to have them re-erected - some on different sites - and nothing could be more appaling than the state of the poor patients on that occasion .

potato failure

But in March, 1849, a worse scourge than malnutrition and its attendant fevers appeared in the West and South West. Cholera attacked. Such a scourge was this that nearly 50 years later the possibility if its return was discussed at a meeting in Navan. The then bishop, Thomas Nulty, urged that no expense be spared in preventing its recurrence. Thomas Nulty had been a curate in Trim in 1849 and, as he said himself, never wanted to witness again the death scenes he had witnessed in that year.

In fact it was 1852 before it could be asserted with confidence that the Famine had become an event of the past. From then on, it was noticed that the time of year when the workhouse had formerly held its largest population was no longer July, the cabbage season, when there was a gap between the end of the old potato supply and coming of the new; but February and March became the peak months for those on the poverty line to enter the workhouse, suffering from flu or winter hardship.

 

The conclusion for Ireland was inescapable - the problem of able bodied poverty had been solved once and for all by by the disaster of the Famine. The able bodied poor had been swept away to the emigrant boats - for the fortunate - or, as in most cases to the pauper's grave.

 

Source: Rev. Gerard Rice, Articles on the History of Navan, Meath Chronicle, 1980.

October 17, 2015 at 7:14 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
Site Owner
Posts: 1033

Riocht na Midhe 2013: A "hollow and unsubstantial "prosperity: poverty in nineteenth century Meath.

 

The Commons of Navan, "the worse regulated of any common grounds...a receptacle for vagabonds from all quarters...

 

By the mid 1830s there was one pawnshop in the county based in the town of Navan. Mr. R. Fitzherbert, Justice of the Peace for Navan, believed that pawnbrokers do " incalculable mischief, being a great encouragement to dishonest practices among the poor". It appears that only people around Navan availed of the pawnshop but they were not the "lowest poor, for they have nothing to pawn."

 

Potato Blight 1879.

 

 

 

This letter was published in the London Times 10th Sept 1879 (30 years after the Famine)

 

Letter to The Times: Potato Blight

 

I have been in the habit of getting fresh seed of the champion potato from Scotland each year, and now, while the air is almost everywhere tainted with the smell of rotting potatoes, I can point with satisfaction to a crop almost free from disease, though, in the same field, my more conservative tenant has hardly a sound tuber to show.

 

I am, Sir, Your obedient servant,

 

N.T. Everard,

Randlestown, Navan.

Sept 6th 1879

 

 

 

Notes: from The Great Famine in Co. Meath by Danny Cusack published by Meath Co.Co. 1995

 

During the decade 1841-51 the population of Meath declined by just over 23% from 183,828 to 140,748.

 

North Meath was more profoundly affected by the Famine than the southern part of the county. It had more dramatic losses in population. The nature of the rural economy was transformed by the near annihilation of the labourers, cottiers and small holders as a class.

 

The Gaelic culture and the once thriving Irish language of north Meath were dealt an almost fatal body-blow by the Famine. The once thriving tradition of Irish music and language, represented by such figures as Aodh MacDomhnaill of Drumconrath (1802-1867) went into rapid decline after the Famine.

 

 

Orphan Girls to Australia Scheme

 

In 1850 about 4000 female orphans arrived in Australia from Irish workhouses as part of Earl Grey's (British Secretary of State for Colonies) Pauper Emigration Scheme. Approximately 100 of these girls were from workhouses in Meath and 25 were from Navan. The idea was to solve Australia's shortage of labour and imbalance of the sexes by alleviating the overcrowding in Ireland's famine filled workhouses.

 

The following made their way to Sydney on the "William and Mary" on the 21st November 1849 from the Navan Poor Law Union.

 

Betsy Boyle (16) near Navan. Parents John & Biddy (both dead)

 

Elizabeth Carry (16) Castletown. David & Mary (both dead)

 

Mary Clarke (15) Simonstown. Patrick & Peggy (mother in Navan)

 

Anne Clarke (18) Simonstown. Patrick & Peggy (mother in Navan)

 

Catherine Collins (14) Navan. Patrick & Mary (father living)

 

Bridget Cummins (16) Slane. John & Rose (both dead)

 

Mary Devine (16) Yellow Furze (Yellow Firs) Michael & Bridgey (mother alive)

 

Rose Donohue (16) Ardbraccan (Arbrattan) John & Margaret (mother in Navan)

 

Margareet Gray (17) Ardbraccan (Ardbrackhan..) John & Margaret (mother in Ardbraccan)

 

Julia Halligan (19) Navan. James & Jane (both dead)

 

Bridget Hammond 17) Navan. Michael & Rose (both dead)

 

Mary Kenny (16) Poremaine (near Boyerstown). Thomas & Mary (mother at Boyestown)

 

Jane Kenny (18) Churchown (near Ardbraccan). Thomas & Mary (mother at Churchtown)

 

Ann Lynagh (18) Navan. William & Margaret (mother in Navan)

 

Mary MacCormack (18) Navan. Thomas & Betty (mother in Navan)

 

Catherine Morris (18) Castletown. Edward & Catherine (both dead)

 

Mary Mullen (15) Navan. James & Biddy (both dead)

 

Bridgeet Mullen (17) Navan. James & Biddy (both dead)

 

Ann Murray (17) Albrack (?) Richard & Mary (mother in Navan)

 

Ann Smith (16) Castletown. James & Mary (both dead)

 

Catherine Vahey (17) Rathkenny (Rick Kenny) Thomas & Mary (both dead)

 

Many of these girls ended up in Bathurst New South Wales

 

 

 

Source: Danny Cusack, The Great Famine in Co Meath quoting: Barefoot and Pregnant: Irish Famine Orphans in Australia, Trevor McClaughlin

 

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WHEN GENOCIDE BECAME "FAMINE" : IRELAND, 1845 - 1850

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 7:15 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
Site Owner
Posts: 1033

Penal Times, 1798 and The Famine

 

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Penal Times - The Meath Field Names Survey form specifically asked people to tick a box if they knew there was either a Mass Pass or a Mass Rock in the field.

 

In the findings about 20 Mass rocks are noted and over 200 fields are identified that had a Mass pass or path. In some cases the surveyor went to the trouble of drawing in the exact route of the Mass pass on the townland map they were working on. These paper maps will be archived with all the original survey sheets at the Local Studies department in Meath County Library. It can be seen that many fields with Mass Paths also have stone stiles.

 

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

SWIFTY
Site Owner
Posts: 1033

There are about 13 references to Hedge Schools in the data collected through the project. Given that these Hedge Schools were so temporary in nature, it is truly amazing that so many details about them have been carried through in field lore until the present day, including the ‘Masters’ names in many cases and, in a some cases, even the fees paid by the students.

 

 

 

1798, Croppy Graves and Memorials - In 1798 many Wexford men died on expedition to Meath. Most of them were buried where they fell; some were only covered in shallow graves by local people. Many of the graves were marked with large stones, some of these memorials also took the form of crosses. In some cases more recent memorials have been erected on or close to Croppy graves. Often these memorials are located on the roadside adjacent to the fields where the Croppy graves are. Many of the newer memorials were erected in 1998 on the 200th Anniversary. The areas and townlands where 1798 activity and Croppy graves are referred to in the Meath Field Names Survey tie in well with the route of the Wexford Army as shown on a map in Eamon Doyle’s book, March into Meath: In the Footsteps of 1798. [1] The information regarding Ongenstown, Killallon, Moynalty and other areas west of Navan is not noted by Doyle in his publication.

http://www.meathfieldnames.com/index.php/discoveries-of-note/17-unusual-words-and-language


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WHEN GENOCIDE BECAME "FAMINE" : IRELAND, 1845 - 1850

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 7:18 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
Site Owner
Posts: 1033

The Haunted Sites Team from Sacred Sites visited Dunshaughlin Famine Graveyard and Workhouse for a paranormal investigation on 11/11/12, here’s an account of our visit by Emma Ní Dhúlaing:

 

 

It is an old and oft repeated statement that ‘History is written by the Winners’. However, it would be more accurate to say that History is written by those in power, those with privilege, the wealthy elite. Obviously, whoever is writing is going to defend the interests of whatever group or class they feel they belong to; they defend the status quo that ensures their position in a society. So in an unequal society, such as 19th Century ‘Famine’ Ireland, documents and accounts were written by the privileged. These upper classes lived in a different world than the people who suffered during the potato famine of the mid 19th Century. The failure of the potato crop, a staple for most Irish peasants at that time, combined with a population explosion and rising food prices to create conditions of widespread poverty and mass starvation (a huge social failure during years of a bumper harvest in all other crops except potatoes). Mass evictions put these people on the roads and byways of Ireland, and eventually, reluctantly, some of them ended up in the workhouses.

 

I was aware of this background when visiting the ruins of the workhouse in Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath. The society of 19th Century Ireland was very unequal, but this population that starved or emigrated were not illiterate. I was aware that even present day representations of the famine can romanticise the victims, or present a false account. I was aware that 19th Century accounts are coloured, not only by the bias of the elite who wrote them, but also by a culture that could not conceive of society being ordered any other way. These people passed Poor Laws, and built workhouses to try to deal with the problems of poverty. The workhouses often contained schools, and the authorities considered themselves to be doing a good thing, offering work, food and shelter, and a moral backbone to a poverty ridden underclass (protestant work ethic?). They thought they were helping to deal with the problem, and did not comprehend the reasons why the workhouses were so unpopular. We would probably find their attitudes patronising and controlling today.

 

The starving people who resorted to the workhouses did so as a last resort. The upper classes were unable to see why; that some people would prefer to starve than be separated from their families, that the ‘moral backbone’ and ‘discipline’ of the upper classes often amounted to capital punishment and sadistic violence; that the starving Irish saw these workhouses as originating from the same authorities that were hanging a starving man who stole bread for his family, or deporting people to the other side of the world for vagrancy (when they had nowhere to go).

 

 

 

 

 

I was quite astonished and a little bit angry at the account on the sign above – annoyed at the omission of the reasons why the workhouses were unpopular. To omit the reasons why people did not want to enter the workhouse is to erase these peoples history, to silence their voice. Some further research showed me that there was actually an extra fever hospital built less than 200 meters from the ‘Famine Graveyard’.

 

 

 

 

 

Why wasn’t this mentioned on the sign (above)? The workhouse had to be extended, and stables and extra ‘fever shacks’ were built during the height of the disaster. It seems that the politics of representing the past are still with us! Perhaps our present administration does not wish us to remember famine times, or remember our strength against foreign authorities at the moment? It is important to remember that the writing of history is always a political act, that there are many voices from the past, and that human history has never been equal or fair. I feel that psychic work can help in allowing these voiceless ones speak, have their stories known.http://www.sacredsites.ie/famine-graveyard-and-workhouse/

 

 

October 17, 2015 at 7:19 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
Site Owner
Posts: 1033

http://www.meathchronicle.ie/opinion/comment/articles/2012/05/23/4010532-why-remembering-famine-victims-has-an-indelible-place-in-irish-psyche--

October 17, 2015 at 7:20 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
Site Owner
Posts: 1033

Kells Poor Law Union was formally declared on the 8th July 1839 and covered an area of 178 square miles. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 24 in number, representing its 13 electoral divisions as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):

 

Co. Meath: Burry (2), Dulane (2), Felltown, Girley, Kells (3), Kilbeg (2), Kilmainham, Kilskeer (2), Moynalty (2), Nobber (2), Rathmore (2).

Co. Cavan: Mullagh (2).

Co. Westmeath: Clonmellon (2).

 

The Board also included 8 ex-officio Guardians, making a total of 32. The Guardians met each week at noon on Saturday.

 

The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 40,497 with divisions ranging in size from Felltown (population 1,308) to Kells itself (6,839).

 

The new Kells Union workhouse was erected in 1840-1 on a nine-acre site to the north-west of Kells. Designed by the Poor Law Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson, the building was based on one of his standard plans to accommodate 600 inmates. Its construction cost £5,970 plus £939 for fittings etc. The workhouse was declared fit for the reception of paupers on 25th April 1842, and received its first admissions on 23rd May.

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WHEN GENOCIDE BECAME "FAMINE" : IRELAND, 1845 - 1850

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 7:21 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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