'An tOcras Mór' The Great Hunger.

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Forum Home > How Each County Was Affected "The Great Hunger" > County Waterford - Port Láirge / Co. Phort Láirge

SWIFTY
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The Irish Famine of 1845 - 1852 ( or in Irish "Gorta Mór", translated as"Great Hunger" ) resulted in mass starvation and emigration. The primary cause of the famine - amongst numerous other issues - was the Potato Blight of 1845. The limited diet of the majority of the population meant that the country was ill-prepared for the failure of the potato crop. In Desperate Haven - The Famine in Dungarvan, we look at the effects of the famine on the town of Dungarvan and the efforts of people like Rev. James Alcock (1805-1893) and Councillor Michael Byrne to improve the lives of the people, in the years during and after the famine.

http://www.waterfordmuseum.ie/exhibit/web/Display/category/1/2/2/4/

April 29, 2015 at 9:46 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
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Posts: 1033

The Famine in Waterford, 1845-1850: Teacht na bPrátaí Dubha

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1857959.The_Famine_in_Waterford_1845_1850

April 29, 2015 at 9:47 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
Site Owner
Posts: 1033

 


Dunbrody: A truly amazing journey in time

Dunbrody Famine Ship is one of the premier tourist attractions in the South East of Ireland. Centred on an authentic reproduction of an 1840’s emigrant vessel, it provides a world-class interpretation of the famine emigrant experience. Incorpo

http://www.dunbrody.com/

April 29, 2015 at 9:48 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
Site Owner
Posts: 1033

The Famine in Waterford, 1845-1850: Teacht na Bpratai Dubha

http://www.amazon.com/The-Famine-Waterford-1845-1850-Bpratai/dp/0906602602

April 29, 2015 at 9:48 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
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Posts: 1033

http://irishfaminememorials.com/2014/01/16/pulla-ring-co-waterford-1996/

memorials 

April 29, 2015 at 9:50 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
Site Owner
Posts: 1033

The archaeology of the Great Famine: time for a beginning?

http://rmchapple.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/archaeology-of-great-famine-time-for.html

April 29, 2015 at 9:51 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
Site Owner
Posts: 1033

Eyewitness Accounts of the Famine

Whoever travels this country and observes the face of nature, or the faces and habits and dwellings of the natives, will hardly think himself in a land where law, religion or common humanity is expressed. The miserable dress and diet and dwelling of the people, the general desolation of most parts of the kingdom; the families living in filth and nastiness upon buttermilk and potatoes, without a single shoe or stocking to their feet, or a house so convenient as an English hog-sty to receive them. (Jonathan Swift, 1727)

 

It must strike the most careless traveler to see whole strings of carts whipped into a ditch by a gentleman’s footman to make way for his carriage; if they are overturned or broken in pieces, no matter, it is taken in patience; were they to complain they would perhaps be horsewhipped. The execution of the laws lies very much in the hands of justices of the peace, many of whom are drawn from the most illiberal class in the kingdom. Where manners are in conspiracy against law, to whom are the oppressed people to have recourse? A better treatment of the poor in Ireland is a very material point to the welfare of the whole British Empire. Events may happen which may convince us fatally of this truth. By what policy the government of England can for so many years have permitted such an absurd system to be matured in Ireland, is beyond the power of plain sense to discover. (Arthur Young, English traveler in Ireland, 1776-1779)

 

The land in Ireland is infinitely more peopled than in England; and to give full effect to the natural resources of the country, a great part of the population should be swept from the soil. (Thomas Malthus)

 

The ‘hanging gale’ [the practice of allowing an incoming tenant to leave his rent in arrears until after at least one harvest] is one of the great levers on oppression…the lower classes are kept in a kind of perpetual bondage. This debt hangs over their heads, and keeps them in a continual state of anxiety and terror. (Edward Wakefield, economist, 1812)

 

In Ireland alone the whole agricultural population can be evicted by the mere whim of the landlord, either at the expiration of a lease or, in the far more common case of their having no lease, at six months’ notice. In Ireland alone, the bulk of a population wholly dependent on the land cannot look forward to a single years’ occupation of it. (John Stuart Mill)

 

If they have turf and potatoes enough, they reckon themselves provided for: if a few herrings, a little oatmeal, and, above all, the milk of a cow be added, they are rich, they can enjoy themselves and dance with a light heart, after their day’s work is over. (Martha Louise Blake of the Blake Family of Renvyle House, landlords in Connemara, County Galway, 1823-1824)

 

If there be a market to attend, a fair or a funeral, a horse race, a fight or a wedding, all else is neglected and forgotten. (George Nicholls, English Poor Law Commissioner, 1837)

 

The custom on such occasion as moving a cabin is for the person who has the work to be done to hire a fiddler, upon which all the neighbors joyously assemble and carry in an incredibly short time the stones and timber upon their backs to the new site, men, women, and children alternately dancing and working while daylight lasts, at the termination of which they adjourn to some dwelling where they finish the night, often prolonging the dance to dawn of day. (Lord George Hill, landlord, Gweedore, County Donegal, 1835)

 

The neighbor or the stranger finds every man’s door open, and to walk in without ceremony at mealtime and to partake of his bowl of potatoes, is always sure to give pleasure to everyone of the house. (Sir John Carr of Devonshire, visiting Ireland)

 

The hovels which the poor people were building as I passed, solely by their own efforts, were of the most abject description; their walls were formed, in several instances, by the backs of fences; the floors sunk in the ditches; the height scarcely enough for a man to stand upright; poles not thicker than a broomstick for couples; a few pieces of grass sods the only covering; and these extending only partially over the thing called a roof; the elderly people miserably clothed; the children all but naked. (Isaac Weld, 1832).

 

We are worked harder and worse treated than the slaves in the colonies. I understand that they are taken care of by their masters when they are sick or old. When we are sick, we must die on the road, if the neighbors do not help us. When we are old, we must go out to beg, if the young ones cannot help us, and that will soon happen with us all; we are getting worse and worse every day, and the landlords are kicking us out of every little holding we have. God knows what will happen to this country! (James McMahon, a labourer from County Clare, 1834).

 

Most of these people have not eaten since yesterday. Since this morning they are waiting there fasting. These men are small farmers paying a rent. The potato harvest partially failed last year, the scarcity since last March has begun to make itself felt. Those who had cows, sheep, and pigs have sold them in order to live. All those you see there have nothing more. There is a terrifying exactitude of memory among the Irish peasantry. The great persecutions are not forgotten. All the Irish Protestants whom I saw speak of the Catholics with extraordinary hatred and scorn. The latter, they say, are savages, and fanatics led into all sorts of disorders by their priests. (Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835)

 

Our impressions of the moral conduct of the Irish females are highly favorable. Their duties appear to be much more laborious than those of the same class of females in England. Their dress, too, is very inferior, and so likewise seems their general position in society; yet they universally appear modest, industrious and sober. I state this as a result of my own observations, and I do so here because, if the Irish females have preserved their moral character untainted, under the very trying circumstances in which they are placed, it affords a powerful argument for ‘letting well alone.’ (George Nicholls, 1836)

 

The cottier tenantry and labouring population are in the lowest and most abject condition in which it is possible for human being to exist, often bordering on the verge of famine, as a necessary consequence of the low and precarious diet on which, with little exception, their subsistence depends; equally ill housed and clad, and are altogether destitute of the comforts so essential, not only to their physical wants, but to that contentment of mind, the best security for loyalty in the throne, and obedience to the laws (Matthew Lewis Coneys, farmer and shopkeeper in Clifden, County Galway, 1844)

 

I have heard much of the misery and wretchedness of the Irish people…but I must confess, my experience has convinced me that the half has not been told. Here you have an Irish hut or cabin, such as millions of the people of Ireland live in, in much the same degradation as the American slaves. I see much here to remind me of my former condition, and I confess I should be ashamed to lift my voice against American slavery, but that I know the cause of humanity is one the world over. He who really and truly feels for the American slave, cannot steel his heart to the woes of others. (Frederick Douglass, August 1845)

 

The blight of the potato crop so much complained of in Belgium and several of the English counties has affected the crop and that to a considerable extent in our immediate locality and the surround districts. We are assured by a gentleman of vast experience that the injury sustained by potatoes from blight on his domain is very serious – that they are entirely unfit for use, and he suggests that the potatoes so injured should be immediately dug out for use of pigs as if they are allowed to remain in the ground they will become for the increase of blight not even suitable as food for swine. (Cork Examiner, Sept. 1845)

 

Nothing else is heard of, nothing else is spoken of… Famine must be looked forward to and there will follow, as a natural consequence, as in former years, typhus fever, or some other malignant pestilence. (Dr. Babington, County Antrim, October 1845).

 

The reports continue to be of a very alarming nature, and leave no doubt upon the mind but that the potato crops have failed almost everywhere. (Lord Heytesbury, October 1845).

 

There is such a tendency to exaggeration and inaccuracy in Irish reports that delay in acting on them is always desirable. (Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister, October 1845).

 

Ireland is threatened with a thing that is read of in history and in distant countries, but scarcely in our own land and time – a famine. Whole fields of the root have rotted in the ground, and many a family sees its sole provision for the year destroyed. (The Spectator, October 1845)

 

We can come to no other conclusion that that one-half of the actual potato crop of Ireland is either destroyed, or remains in a state unfit for the food of man. We, moreover, feel it our duty to apprise you that we fear this to be a low estimate. (Professors Lindley and Playfair, in their report to the prime minister, November 1845)

 

From north to south, from east to west, of this famine-stricken land our people’s food is being whole-sale exported. (The Waterford Freeman, November 1845)

 

Rotten potatoes and sea-weed, or even grass, properly mixed, afforded a very wholesome and nutritious food. All knew that Irishmen could live upon anything and there was plenty grass in the field though the potato crop should fail. (The Duke Of Cambridge, January 1846)

 

The circumstances which appeared most aggravating was that the people were starving in the midst of plenty, and that every tide carried from the Irish ports corn sufficient for the maintenance of thousands of the Irish people. (William Smith O’Brien, County Limerick, 1846)

 

Where the landlords have never even seen their estates, you can hardly suppose that their sympathies are very strong for sufferings they have never witnessed. (Lt. Colonel Connolly, County Kildare, February 1846)

 

The actual fact is that hundreds of people here, are, what would be understood in England as ‘starved’ and what is understood in Ireland as ‘half-starved.’ Their cheeks are hollow and transparent, the mouth enlarged, the nose pinched in, the eyes glassy or else of a watery clearness. They scarcely utter any complaints; they do not beg from anyone walking about the village, but follow him silently in a crowd. (The Limerick Reporter, March 1846)

 

What the devil do we care about you or your black potatoes? It was not us that made them black. You will get two days to pay the rent, and if you don’t you know the consequences. (Bailiff’s reply to tenants, quoted in the Freeman’s Journal, April 1846)

 

 

April 29, 2015 at 9:54 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
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Posts: 1033

The faces of these people were subdued with hunger; pale, or rather of a ghostly yellow, indicative of the utmost destitution. They are starving. We hurried with horror from these frightful visitations, which are permitted by Providence for his own wise ends, sick at heart. (Marquis of Waterford, April 1846)

 

I cannot describe the alarm which is felt in this town in consequence of the high price to which provisions have risen this day. The people wear a sullen aspect and are giving expression to their discontent in a very menacing tone. Nothing is heard in the market but threats and murmurs. Potatoes are four shillings per hundred-weight – oatmeal, 17 shillings. In this state of things there is not employment nor relief fund. So in the name of God do something for us. (Father Michael McDermott, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon, 30 June 1846)

 

Ireland must in return behold her best flour, her wheat, her bacon, her butter, her live cattle, all going to England day after day. She dare not ask the cause of this fatal discrepancy – the existence of famine in a country, whose staple commodity is food – food – food of the best – and of the most exquisite quality. (The Chronicle and Munster Advertiser, May 1846)

 

Famine – pale, gaunt, ghastly – is talking throughout Ireland, withering up men like the flowers of the field, consuming millions of human beings with the breath of his mouth; and pestilence is following fast behind him to devour what he leaves and yet there are men who have the hardihood to deny his presence. (The London Universe, May 1846)

 

The reports of the new potato crop are very unfavorable. All letters and sources of information declare disease to be more prevalent this year than last in the early crop. (Sir Randolph Routh to Charles Trevelyan, July 1847).

 

The only way to prevent the people from becoming habitually dependent on Government is to bring the food depots to a close. The uncertainty about the new crop only makes it more necessary. (Charles Trevelyan to Sir Randolph Routh, July 1847)

 

I shall never forget the change in one week in August. On the first occasion, on an official visit of inspection, I had passed over thirty-two miles thickly studded with potato fields in full bloom. The next time the face of the whole country had changed; the stalk remained bright green, but the leaves were all scorched black. It was the work of a single night. Distress and fear were pictured on every countenance and there was a great rush to dig and sell, or consume the crop by feeding pigs and cattle, fearing in a short time they would prove unfit for any use. (Captain Robert Mann, Coastguard officer in County Clare, 1846)

 

On August 1st of that calamitous year, 1846, I was startled by hearing a sudden and strange rumour that all the potato fields in the district were blighted; and that stench had arisen emanating from their decaying stalks. I immediately rode up to visit my crop, and test the truth of this report; but I found it as luxuriant as ever, in full blossom, the stalks matted across each other with richness, and promising a splendid produce, without any unpleasant smell whatever. On coming down from the mountain, I rode into the lowland country, and there I found the report to be but too true. The leaves of the potatoes on many fields I passed were quite withered, and a strange stench, such as I had never smelt before, but which became a well-known feature in “the blight” for years after, filled the atmosphere adjoining each field of potatoes. The crop of all crops, on which they depended for food, had suddenly melted away, and no adequate arrangements had been made to meet this calamity, the extent of which was so sudden and so terrible that no one had appreciated it in time, and thus thousands perished almost without an effort to save themselves. (William Trench, land agent in County Kerry)

 

It was a very warm day. I was descending the mountain going towards the seaside about 3 o’clock on that day when I saw a thick white fog gradually creeping up the sides of the hills. When I entered it I was pained with the cold. I at once feared some great disaster. The next morning when I travelled about in discharge of my duty, I found the whole potato crop everywhere blighted. The leaves were blackened and hanging loosely on their stems, and a disagreeable odour filled the air. (The Rev. John McGowan, 1846)

 

If the people are forced to consume their oats and other grain, where is the rent to come from? (Captain Percival to Charles Trevelyan, Westport, County Mayo, August 1846)

 

On this very day a cry of Famine, wilder and more fearful than ever, is rising from every parish and county in the land. Where the new crop ought to be, there is a loathsome mass of putrefaction: the sole food on which millions of men, women and children are to be fed is stricken by a deadly blight before their eyes; and probably within one month those millions will be hungry and have nothing to eat. Last year government had to bethink themselves how to provide against a very general deficiency; this year they will have to consider how a starving nation is to be fed. (The Nation, 15 August 1846)

 

If the Government were to apply the resources of the Treasury for the purchase of food in foreign countries, and that food were afterwards to be sold by retail at a low rate, it is evident that all trade would be disturbed. (Lord John Russell in the House of Commons, August 1846)

 

As Popery is idolatrous any treaty with it must be opposed to God’s will, and call down his wrath upon those nations who have commerce with it: more particularly upon nations like Ireland wherein its hideous deformities are most signally manifested. (The Rev. Edward Nangle, in The Achill Missionary Herald, County Mayo, August 1846)

 

A want of food and employment is a calamity sent by providence; except through a purgatory of misery and starvation, I cannot see how Ireland is to emerge into a state of anything approaching to quiet and prosperity. (Charles Wood, August 1846)

 

The government does not propose to buy up provisions this year as was done by them last year, lest it would interfere with men in trade. The lives of the people are to be looked upon as things less sacred than the interests of the ‘men in trade.’ (The Waterford Freeman, August 1846)

 

The Act passed in March of 1846 “to make temporary provision for the Relief of destitute poor persons afflicted with fever in Ireland” is allowed to expire; the Central Board of Health is closed, and the extra medical officers who had been engaged are dismissed (31 August 1846)

 

Hundreds of peasantry from the neighbouring hills and surrounding country began to pour into the village. The Courthouse was crowded outside, and the excitement was alarming and menacing; whilst cries of “we are starving and we must get work or food – we cannot hold patient and famishing any longer” were exclaimed, in Irish both within and outside the Courthouse. (The Waterford Mail, August 1846)

 

Dear Father and Mother, Pen cannot dictate the poverty of this country at present. The potato crop is quite done away all over Ireland. There is nothing expected here, only an immediate famine. If you knew what danger we and our fellow countrymen are suffering, if you were ever so much distressed, you would take us out of this poverty isle. We can only say, the scourge of God fell down on Ireland, in taking away the potatoes, they being the only support of the people. So, dear father and mother, if you don’t endeavour to take us out of it, it will be the first news you will hear by some friend of me and my little family to be lost by hunger; and there thousands dread they will share the same fate. (Michael and Mary Rush, September 6, 1846)

 

Deaths, I regret to say, innumerable from starvation are occurring every day; the bonds of society are almost dissolved. The pampered officials, removed as they are from these scenes of heart-rending distress, can have no idea of them and don’t appear to give themselves much trouble about them. I ask them in the name of humanity, is this state of society to continue and who are responsible for these monstrous evils? (The parish priest of Hollymount, Co. Mayo, September 1846)

 

For our parts, we regard the potato blight as a blessing. When the Celts once cease to be potato eaters, they must become carnivorous. With the taste of meats will grow the appetite for them; with the appetite, the readiness to earn them. With this will come steadiness, regularity, and perseverance; unless, indeed, the growth of these qualities be impeded by the blindness of Irish patriotism, short-sighted indifference of petty landlords, or the random recklessness of Government benevolence. (The Times, September 1846)

 

 

April 29, 2015 at 9:54 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
Site Owner
Posts: 1033

The faces of these people were subdued with hunger; pale, or rather of a ghostly yellow, indicative of the utmost destitution. They are starving. We hurried with horror from these frightful visitations, which are permitted by Providence for his own wise ends, sick at heart. (Marquis of Waterford, April 1846)

 

I cannot describe the alarm which is felt in this town in consequence of the high price to which provisions have risen this day. The people wear a sullen aspect and are giving expression to their discontent in a very menacing tone. Nothing is heard in the market but threats and murmurs. Potatoes are four shillings per hundred-weight – oatmeal, 17 shillings. In this state of things there is not employment nor relief fund. So in the name of God do something for us. (Father Michael McDermott, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon, 30 June 1846)

 

Ireland must in return behold her best flour, her wheat, her bacon, her butter, her live cattle, all going to England day after day. She dare not ask the cause of this fatal discrepancy – the existence of famine in a country, whose staple commodity is food – food – food of the best – and of the most exquisite quality. (The Chronicle and Munster Advertiser, May 1846)

 

Famine – pale, gaunt, ghastly – is talking throughout Ireland, withering up men like the flowers of the field, consuming millions of human beings with the breath of his mouth; and pestilence is following fast behind him to devour what he leaves and yet there are men who have the hardihood to deny his presence. (The London Universe, May 1846)

 

The reports of the new potato crop are very unfavorable. All letters and sources of information declare disease to be more prevalent this year than last in the early crop. (Sir Randolph Routh to Charles Trevelyan, July 1847).

 

The only way to prevent the people from becoming habitually dependent on Government is to bring the food depots to a close. The uncertainty about the new crop only makes it more necessary. (Charles Trevelyan to Sir Randolph Routh, July 1847)

 

I shall never forget the change in one week in August. On the first occasion, on an official visit of inspection, I had passed over thirty-two miles thickly studded with potato fields in full bloom. The next time the face of the whole country had changed; the stalk remained bright green, but the leaves were all scorched black. It was the work of a single night. Distress and fear were pictured on every countenance and there was a great rush to dig and sell, or consume the crop by feeding pigs and cattle, fearing in a short time they would prove unfit for any use. (Captain Robert Mann, Coastguard officer in County Clare, 1846)

 

On August 1st of that calamitous year, 1846, I was startled by hearing a sudden and strange rumour that all the potato fields in the district were blighted; and that stench had arisen emanating from their decaying stalks. I immediately rode up to visit my crop, and test the truth of this report; but I found it as luxuriant as ever, in full blossom, the stalks matted across each other with richness, and promising a splendid produce, without any unpleasant smell whatever. On coming down from the mountain, I rode into the lowland country, and there I found the report to be but too true. The leaves of the potatoes on many fields I passed were quite withered, and a strange stench, such as I had never smelt before, but which became a well-known feature in “the blight” for years after, filled the atmosphere adjoining each field of potatoes. The crop of all crops, on which they depended for food, had suddenly melted away, and no adequate arrangements had been made to meet this calamity, the extent of which was so sudden and so terrible that no one had appreciated it in time, and thus thousands perished almost without an effort to save themselves. (William Trench, land agent in County Kerry)

 

It was a very warm day. I was descending the mountain going towards the seaside about 3 o’clock on that day when I saw a thick white fog gradually creeping up the sides of the hills. When I entered it I was pained with the cold. I at once feared some great disaster. The next morning when I travelled about in discharge of my duty, I found the whole potato crop everywhere blighted. The leaves were blackened and hanging loosely on their stems, and a disagreeable odour filled the air. (The Rev. John McGowan, 1846)

 

If the people are forced to consume their oats and other grain, where is the rent to come from? (Captain Percival to Charles Trevelyan, Westport, County Mayo, August 1846)

 

On this very day a cry of Famine, wilder and more fearful than ever, is rising from every parish and county in the land. Where the new crop ought to be, there is a loathsome mass of putrefaction: the sole food on which millions of men, women and children are to be fed is stricken by a deadly blight before their eyes; and probably within one month those millions will be hungry and have nothing to eat. Last year government had to bethink themselves how to provide against a very general deficiency; this year they will have to consider how a starving nation is to be fed. (The Nation, 15 August 1846)

 

If the Government were to apply the resources of the Treasury for the purchase of food in foreign countries, and that food were afterwards to be sold by retail at a low rate, it is evident that all trade would be disturbed. (Lord John Russell in the House of Commons, August 1846)

 

As Popery is idolatrous any treaty with it must be opposed to God’s will, and call down his wrath upon those nations who have commerce with it: more particularly upon nations like Ireland wherein its hideous deformities are most signally manifested. (The Rev. Edward Nangle, in The Achill Missionary Herald, County Mayo, August 1846)

 

A want of food and employment is a calamity sent by providence; except through a purgatory of misery and starvation, I cannot see how Ireland is to emerge into a state of anything approaching to quiet and prosperity. (Charles Wood, August 1846)

 

The government does not propose to buy up provisions this year as was done by them last year, lest it would interfere with men in trade. The lives of the people are to be looked upon as things less sacred than the interests of the ‘men in trade.’ (The Waterford Freeman, August 1846)

 

The Act passed in March of 1846 “to make temporary provision for the Relief of destitute poor persons afflicted with fever in Ireland” is allowed to expire; the Central Board of Health is closed, and the extra medical officers who had been engaged are dismissed (31 August 1846)

 

Hundreds of peasantry from the neighbouring hills and surrounding country began to pour into the village. The Courthouse was crowded outside, and the excitement was alarming and menacing; whilst cries of “we are starving and we must get work or food – we cannot hold patient and famishing any longer” were exclaimed, in Irish both within and outside the Courthouse. (The Waterford Mail, August 1846)

 

Dear Father and Mother, Pen cannot dictate the poverty of this country at present. The potato crop is quite done away all over Ireland. There is nothing expected here, only an immediate famine. If you knew what danger we and our fellow countrymen are suffering, if you were ever so much distressed, you would take us out of this poverty isle. We can only say, the scourge of God fell down on Ireland, in taking away the potatoes, they being the only support of the people. So, dear father and mother, if you don’t endeavour to take us out of it, it will be the first news you will hear by some friend of me and my little family to be lost by hunger; and there thousands dread they will share the same fate. (Michael and Mary Rush, September 6, 1846)

 

Deaths, I regret to say, innumerable from starvation are occurring every day; the bonds of society are almost dissolved. The pampered officials, removed as they are from these scenes of heart-rending distress, can have no idea of them and don’t appear to give themselves much trouble about them. I ask them in the name of humanity, is this state of society to continue and who are responsible for these monstrous evils? (The parish priest of Hollymount, Co. Mayo, September 1846)

 

For our parts, we regard the potato blight as a blessing. When the Celts once cease to be potato eaters, they must become carnivorous. With the taste of meats will grow the appetite for them; with the appetite, the readiness to earn them. With this will come steadiness, regularity, and perseverance; unless, indeed, the growth of these qualities be impeded by the blindness of Irish patriotism, short-sighted indifference of petty landlords, or the random recklessness of Government benevolence. (The Times, September 1846)

 

 

April 29, 2015 at 9:54 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
Site Owner
Posts: 1033

The accounts of the state of Ireland grow darker and darker. Famine seems to be doing its worst and the extreme of want is producing revolt and riot. At Dungarvan it appears that the military have been obliged to fire on the people – with fatal effect. This is one of the horrors attending on scarcity; the rebellion it incites is of the worst kind; the aggressors find a certain amount of sympathy and excuse which, although against our judgment it is impossible to withhold…the mass makes a wild and desperate attempt to snatch a remedy at all risks with this sad and heart rendering result. (The Illustrated London News, October 1846)

 

When famine is spreading its pall over the land, and death is visiting the poor man’s cabin, it is not meet that the food of millions should be shipped from our shores. It is indispensably necessary that the grain should remain in the country while scarcity is apprehended. Will not a starving population become justly indignant when whole fleets, laden with the produce of our soil, are unfurling their sails and steering from our harbour, while the cry of hunger is singing in their ears? It is beyond human endurance to suffer it; and a wise government should at once issue an order prohibiting the exportation of provisions from this country, until the wants of the people have been sufficiently provided for. (The Waterford Freeman, October 1846)

 

We were literally stopped by carts laden with grain, butter, bacon, etc. being taken to the vessels loading from the quay. It was a strange anomaly, and well might be said, count not be matched but in this country. (Captain Robert Mann, coastguard officer, 1846)

 

Owing to the extraordinary wetness of the season, turf cannot be procured; coals are out of the question, and the porr have thus the double presssure of hunger and cold to bear up against; while the rich wrap themselves up oin their own importance and shun their dependents as a plague. (a correspondent to the Belfast Vindicator, October 1846)

 

The children were like skeletons, their features sharpened with hunger and their limbs wasted, so that there was little left but bones, their hands and arms, in particular, being much emaciated, and the happy expression of infancy gone from their faces, leaving the anxious look of premature old age. (William Forster, a Quaker, 1846)

 

The great evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people. (Charles Trevelyan, December 1846)

 

What has brought them, in great measure at least, to their present state of helplessness? Their habit of depending on government. What are we trying to do now? To force them upon their own resources. Of course they mismanage matters very much. (Sir Charles Wood, December 1846)

 

A man employed on the public works became sick. His wife had an infant at her breast. His son, who was fifteen years of age, was put in his place upon the works. The infant at the mother’s breast had to be removed, in order that this boy might receive sustenance from his mother, to enable him to remain at work. (The Rev. O’Connor, parish priest, Killarney, December 1846)

 

The workhouses are full and the people are turned away to perish. It is impossible to allow this state of things to continue without making some effectual effort to relieve it. The mortality in the workhouse is rapidly increasing, both from the crowded state of the unions and the exhausted state in which the applicants are received. (H. Labouchere to Lord John Russell, December 1846)

 

The alarming prospect cannot be exaggerated…unless great amounts reach us from other quarters, the prospect is appalling…I assure you that unless something is immediately done the people must die…pray do something for them. Let me beg you to attend to this. I cannot express their condition. (Nicholas Cummins, justice of the peace in Cork, to Charles Trevelyan, December 1846)

 

We attach the highest public importance to the strict observance of our pledge not to send orders abroad, which would come into competition with our merchants and upset all their calculations; these principles must be kept in view in reference to what is now going on in Skibbereen. For a numerous people like the Irish to be fed from foreign countries is a thing unheard of. (Charles Trevelyan, December 1846)

 

The distress of the wretched people is heart-rending; something ought to be done for them; they can get nothing to purchase. The carters have stopped bringing supplies…the people in Arranmore Island are living on seaweed…there is absolutely nothing in the place for food. (Deputy-Assistant Commissary-General Gem in Donegal, December 1846)

 

[in Skibbereen] I entered some of the hovels…and the scenes that presented themselves were such as no tongue or pen can convey the slightest idea of. In the first, six famished and ghastly skeletons, to all appearance dead, were huddled in a corner on some filthy straw, their sole covering what seemed a ragged horse-cloth and their wretched legs hanging about, naked above the knees. I approached in horror, and found by a low moaning they were alive – they were in fever, four children, a woman, and what once had been a man. It is impossible to go through the detail. Suffice it to say, that in a few minutes I was surrounded by at least 200 of such phantoms, such frightful spectres as no words can describe. By far the greater number were delirious either from famine or from fever. Their demonic yells are still ringing in my ears, and their horrible images are fixed on my brain. (Nicholas Cummins, justice of the peace in Cork, December 1846)

 

A woman with a dead child in her arms was begging in the street yesterday and the Guard of the Mail told me he saw a man and three dead children lying by the roadside…nothing can exceed the deplorable state of this place…On Saturday, notwithstanding all this distress, there was a market plentifully supplied with meat, bread, fish, in short everything. (Major Parker, Relief Inspector of the Board of Works, December 1846)

 

…immense herds of cattle, sheep and hogs…floating off on every tide, out of every one of our thirteen seaports, bound for England; and the landlords were receiving their rents and going to England to spend them; and many hundreds of poor people had laid down and died on the roadsides for want of food. (John Mitchel)

 

Disease and death in every quarter – the once hardy population worn away to emaciated skeletons – fever, dropsy, diarrhea, and famine rioting in every filthy hovel, and sweeping away whole families…seventy-five tenants ejected here, and a whole village in the last stage of destitution there…dead bodies of children flung into holes hastily scratched in the earth without shroud or coffin…every field becoming a grave, and the land a wilderness. (The Cork Examiner, December 1846)

 

…the constant language of English ministers and members of Parliament created the impression abroad that Ireland was in need of alms, and nothing but alms; whereas Irishmen themselves uniformly protested that what they required was a repeal of the Union, so that the English might cease to devour their substance. (John Mitchel)

 

What is given to the Irish is so much filched from the English distress…the English labourer pays taxes from which the Irish one is free – nay, he pays taxes by which the Irishman is enriched. Before our merciful intervention, the Irish nation were a wretched, indolent, half-starved tribe of savages, ages before Julius Caesar landed on this isle, and that, notwithstanding a gradual improvement upon the naked savagery, they have never approached the standard of the civilized world. (The Times, January 1847)

 

We copy the evidence of Thomas Burroughs, M.D.: Examined the body of Thomas McManus; both of the legs, as far as the buttocks, appeared to have been eaten off by a pig; is of the opinion his death was caused by hunger and cold. There was not a particle of food found in the deceased stomach or intestines. Those who saw the body were of opinion, from the agonized expression of McManus’s countenance, that he was alive when the pig attacked him. (The Sligo Champion, January 1847)

 

However serious and painful it may be, it is indispensable that the prices at our depots should keep pace with the Cork prices…or else mercantile supplies will cease to sent to at least one half of Ireland. (Charles Trevelyan, January 1847)

 

Heaven knows we have had enough of artificial employment, of hill cutting, and hollow filling, and useless road making. Look at the hospital road at Abbeyside. Why the place is now in a worse state than it was before any road was there. (The Waterford Freeman, January 1847)

 

Roads were laid out which led from nowhere to nowhere; canals were dug into which no drop of water has ever flowed; piers were constructed which the Atlantic storms at once began to wash away. (F. French, in the House of Commons, January 1847)

 

Up to this morning I, like a large portion, I fear, of the community, looked on the diaries of Dr. Donovan, as published in The Cork Southern Reporter, to be highly coloured pictures, doubtless intended for a good and humane purpose; but I can now, with perfect confidence, say that neither pen nor pencil ever could portray the misery and horror, at this moment, to be witnessed in Skibbereen. (James Mahony, artist commissioned by the London Illustrated News, February 1847)

 

A few days ago I entered a miserable cabin, dug out of the bog; a poor woman sat, propped against the wall inside; the stench was intolerable, and on my complaining of it the Mother pointed to a sort of square bed in one corner; it contained the putrid – the absolutely melted away remains of her eldest son. On inquiry why she did not bury it, she assigned two reasons; first, she had not the strength to go out and acquaint the neighbors; next, she waited till her other child would die, and they might bury both together. (The Telegraph, Castlebar, County Mayo, February 1847)

 

Surely God is angry with this land. The potatoes would not have rotted unless He sent the rot into them…God is good, and because He is, He never sends a scourge upon His creatures unless they deserve it – but he is so good that He often punishes people in mercy, when he sees them going in a bad way He chastises them. (The Rev. Edward Nangle, in the Achill Missionary Herald, February 1847)

 

We have found everything but too true; the accounts are not exaggerated – they cannot be exaggerated – nothing more frightful can be conceived. The scenes we have witnessed during our short stay at Skibbereen equal anything that has been recorded by history, or could conceived by the imagination. (Lord Dufferin, March 1847)

 

They call it God’s famine! No! No! God’s famine is known by the general scarcity of food which is its consequence. There is no general scarcity…but political economy, finding Ireland too poor to buy the produce of its own labour, exported that harvest to a better market, and left the people to die of famine, or to live by alms. (Bishop Hughes speaking in New York, March 1847)

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A favorable opportunity present itself to gentlemen…who wish to send out the overstocked tenantry belonging to their estates, as a moderate rate of passage will be taken and six months credit given for a lump sum to any gentleman requiring such accommodations. (The Londonderry Sentinel, March 1847)

 

The astounding apathy of the Irish themselves to the most horrible scenes under their eyes and capable of relief by the smallest exertion is something absolutely without a parallel in the history of civilized nations…the brutality of piratical tribes sinks to nothing compared with the absolute inertia of the Irish in the midst of the most horrifying scenes…could anything make it clearer that it is not money but men that Ireland wants – real men possessed of average hearts, heads, and hands. (The Times, March 1847)

 

Day after day our quays are crowded with people seeking for American ships, and no sooner is a ship’s departure for that prosperous land announced than she is filled. (The Chronicle and Munster Advertiser, March 1847)

 

Monsieur Soyer proposes to make soup of the following portions: leg of beef, four ounces; dripping fat, two ounces; flour, eight ounces; brown sugar, half an ounce, water, two gallons. These items are exclusive of the onions, a few turnip parings, celery tops and a little salt, which can hardly be considered under the head of food. Its inventor is reported have said to the Government “that a bellyful once a day, with a biscuit, will be more than sufficient to maintain the strength of a strong healthy man.” (The Lancet, April 1847)

 

Five shillings each to see paupers feed! Five shillings each! To watch the burning blush of shame chasing pallidness from poverty’s wan cheek! Five shillings each! When the animals in the Zoological Gardens can be inspected at feeding time for sixpence! (The Dublin Evening Packet, April 1847)

 

Into every seaport in Ireland are now thronging thousands of farmers, with their families, who have chosen to leave their lands untilled and undown, to sell horses and stock and turn all into money to go to America, carrying off both the money and the industry that created it, and leaving a more helpless mass of misery and despair behind them. (John Mitchel, The Nation, April 1847)

 

Six millions of the people of Ireland are chained to a system that excludes, and is found to exclude, them from the true knowledge of the true God…You must endeavour to bring the knowledge of God to every cabin in Ireland. To do this you must use your endeavours to have the word of God taught and preached in every village in Ireland; and when you thus honour God by honouring His word, you may expect redemption in Ireland. (The Protestant Watchman, May 1847)

 

Health, strength, youth, childhood and old age – all withering before the face of this frightful Famine. To its victims I broke “the bread of life”: the bread that perisheth I could not command; and frequently, indeed, I have wept bitterly in quitting the abode of misery, unable to aid its wretched inmates…Good heavens, can it be possible that man, created in the image of the living God, is forced to live on weeds. (Father White, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, 1847)

 

The time will come when we shall know what the amount of mortality has been; and though you may groan, and try to keep the truth down, it shall be known, and the time will come when the public and the world will be able to estimate, at its proper value, your management of the affairs of Ireland. (Lord Bentinck, in the House of Commons, 1847)

 

I have not taken off my surplice today; they are dying on the rocks and on the beach, where they have been cast by the sailors who simply could not carry them to the hospitals. We buried 28 yesterday, 28 today, and now (two hours past midnight) there are 30 dead whom we will burry tomorrow. I have not gone to bed for five nights. (Father Bernard McGauran at Grosse Isle, Canada, August 1847)

 

Two to three hundred sick might be found in one ship, attacked by typhoid fever and dysentery, most lying on the refuse that had accumulated under them during the voyage; beside the sick and the dying were spread out the corpses that had not yet been buried at sea. On the decks a layer of muck had formed so thick that foot prints were noticeable in it. To all this add the bad quality of the water, the scarcity of food and you will conceive but feebly of the sufferings that people endured during the long and hard trip. Sickness and death made terrible inroads on them. On some ships almost a third of the passengers died. The crew members themselves were often in such bad shape that they could hardly man the ship. (Priest’s report, Grosse Isle, Canada)

 

Six men crossed with me in an open boat, and we landed upon the once pretty island. The first that called my attention was the death-like stillness – nothing of life was seen or heard, excepting occasionally a dog. These looked so unlike all others I had seen among the poor – I unwittingly said – “How can the dogs look so fat and shining here, where there is no food for the people?” “Shall I tell her?” said the pilot to Mr. Griffith, not supposing that I heard him. This was enough: if anything were wanting to make the horrors of a famine complete, this supplied the deficiency. (Asenath Nicholson, County Donegal, 1847)

 

It is my opinion that too much has been done for the people. Under such treatment the people have grown worse instead of better, and we must now try what independent exertion can do. (Charles Trevelyan, 1847)

 

Enough (wheat, oats, barley, bere, rye, and beans) has been gathered in the past harvest to feed double the number of people actually existing in Ireland for a period of twelve months. But this is only a small fragment of the marvel; there were green crops enough to feed 4,000,000 of human beings; and all this is exclusive of the stock of cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry. (The Evening Mail, 1847)

 

The real difficulty lies with the people themselves. They are always in the mud…their idleness and helplessness can hardly be believed. (Lord Clarendon, September 1847)

 

An Irishman looks on America as the refuge of his race, the home of his kindred, the heritage of his children and their children. The Atlantic is, to his mind, less a barrier between land and land than is St. George’s Channel. The shores of England are farther off in his heart’s geography than those of Massachusetts or New York. (Thomas Colley Grattan, 1847)

 

At length it was discovered that the best plan would be to get completely rid of those who were so heavy a burden upon them by shipping them to America; at the same time publishing it to the world as an act of brotherly love and kindness, a deed of crafty, calculating selfishness: for the expense of transporting each individual was less than the cost of one year’s support in a workhouse. (Robert Whyte, passenger on the Ajax, 1847)

 

…in the same vicinity was the bed of a little orphan girl, who had crept into a hole in the bank and died one night, with no one to spread her heath-bed, or to close her eyes, or wash and fit her for the grave. She died unheeded, the dogs lacerated the body, gnawed the bones and strewed them about the bog. When I stood in the burying ground in that parish, I saw the brown silken hair of a young girl waving faintly through a little cleft of stones that lay loosely upon her young breast. They had not room to put her beneath the surface but slightly, and a little green grass was pulled and spread over, and then covered with stones. I never shall forget it. (Asenath Nicholson, Co. Mayo, December 1847)

 

In Galway, a man having been sentenced for sheep-stealing in that city, it was stated to the bench by the resident magistrate that the prisoner and his family were starving; one of his children died and he was, he said credibly informed that the mother ate part of its legs and feet. After its death he had the body exhumed and found that nothing but the bones remained of the legs and feet. (The Freeman’s Journal, April 1848)

 

We were all in the greatest spirits at the approach of plenty, but blight has made its appearance. On the morning of the 13th, to the astonishment of everyone, the potato fields that had, on the previous evening, presented an appearance that was calculated to gladden the hearts of the most indifferent, appeared blasted, withered, blackened and, as it were, sprinkled with vitriol, and the whole country has in consequence been thrown into dismay and confusion. (Father John O’Sullivan, Kenmare, to Charles Trevelyan, July 1848)

 

The matter is awfully serious, but we are in the hands of Providence, without a possibility of averting the catastrophe, if it is to happen; we can only await the result (Charles Trevelyan, July 1848)

 

How are the next six months to be got through in the South and West? I am at my wits’ end to imagine. The reports of our own officers are bad enough, heaven knows, but the statements I have received from (credible) witnesses exceed all I have ever heard of horrible misery, expect perhaps that of shipwrecked mariners on a yacht or desert island. (Lord Clarendon to Charles Trevelyan, December 1848)

 

I have always felt a certain horror of political economists since I heard one of them say he feared the famine of 1848 in Ireland would not kill more than a million people, and that would scarcely be enough to do any good. (Benjamin Jowett, referring to Nassau Senior, economic adviser, 1848)

 

It is true that the potato has failed in Connaught and Munster; but it has failed just as much in Ulster; therefore, if the failure of the potato has produced all the distress in the South and West, why has it not caused the same misery here? It is because we are a painstaking, industrious, laborious people, who desire to work and pay our just debt, and the blessing of the Almighty is upon our labour. If the people of the South had been equally industrious with those of the North, they would not have so much misery among them. (Newry Telegraph, March 1849)

 

Great Britain cannot continue to throw her hard-won millions into the bottomless pit of Celtic pauperism. (The Illustrated London News, March 1849, 18 months after any significant expenditure by the British government had ended)

 

When they reached that terrible spot called the Stroppabue, on the very brow of the cliff, the tremendous squalls swept them by the score into the lake, and those who were trying to climb the steep-slanting pass lost their hold and fell as they climbed. The corpses which fell into the lake were never recovered. On the next morning the trail from Glankeen to Houstan’s house was covered with corpses as numerous as the sheaves of corn in an autumn field… (James Berry, Bunowen, County Mayo, 1849)

 

I can assure your grace that a mile of the public road cannot be travelled without meeting a dead body, as the poor are houseless, and daily turned out of the poor house whenever they exhibit any symptom of sickness. There is not a hut without fever and dysentery, the sure precursors of cholera, which I fear is the next ordeal through which the poor Irish must pass. (William Flannery, curate, April 1849)

 

All through the (United) States an intense interest and a noble generosity were shown. The railroads carried, free of charge, all packages marked “Ireland.” Public carriers undertook the gratuitous delivery of any package intended for the relief of the destitute Irish. Storage to any extent was offered on the same terms. Ships of war approached our shores, eagerly seeking not to destroy life but to preserve it, their guns being taken out in order to afford more room for stowage. (Transactions of the Society of Friends, 1849)

 

The great tide of Emigration flows steadily westward. The principal emigrants are Irish peasants and labourers. It is calculated that at least four of every five persons who leave the shores of the old country to try their fortunes in the new, are Irish. Since the fatal days of the potato famine and the cholera, the annual numbers of emigrants have gone on increasing, until they have become so great as to suggest the idea, and almost justify the belief, of a gradual depopulation of Ireland. (The Illustrated London News, July 1850)

 

…we feel it will be gratifying to your Excellency to find that although the population has been diminished in so remarkable a manner by famine, disease and emigration between 1841 and 1851, and has been since decreasing, the results of the Irish census of 1851 are, on the whole, satisfactory, demonstrating as they do the general advancement of the country. (The Census of Ireland for the Year 1851)

 

The greater the numbers who emigrate in any one year, the larger the amount of funds received in Ireland in the next, to enable friends and relatives to follow to the land of plenty and independence. The potato failure is thus working a mighty revolution. This mighty emigration pays for itself. It seeks no aid from the public purse, but it should be remembered that it establishes itself in regions that owe no fealty to the Crown of England. (The Illustrated London News, April 1852)

 

The streets are daily thronged with moving skeletons. The fields are strewn with dead…the curse of Russell, more terrible than the curse of Cromwell, is upon us. (Eyewitness in Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo, 1849)

 

The “land of song” was no longer tuneful; or, if a human sound met the traveller’s ear, it was only that of the feeble and despairing wail for the dead. This awful, unwonted silence, which, during the famine and subsequent years, almost everywhere prevailed, struck more fearfully upon their imaginations, as many Irish gentlemen informed me, and gave them a deeper feeling of the desolation with which the country had been visited than any other circumstance which had forced itself upon their attention. (George Petrie, 1855)

 

If this [exodus] goes on, as it is likely to go on…the United States will become very Irish….So an Ireland there will still be, but on a colossal scale, and in a new world. We must gird our loins to encounter the Nemesis of seven centuries’ misgovernment. To the end of time a hundred million spread over the largest havitable area in the world, and, confronting us everywhere by sea and land, will remember that their forefathers paid tithe to the Protestant clergy, rent to absentee landlords, and a forced obedience to the laws which these had made. (The Times, quoted in The Nation, May 1860)

 

A million and half men, women and children were carefully, prudently and peacefully slain by the English Government. They died of hunger in the midst of abundance which their own hands created; and it is quite immaterial to distinguish those who perished in the agonies of famine itself from those who died of typhus fever, which in Ireland is always caused by famine….The Almighty indeed sent the potato blight, but the English created the Famine. (John Mitchel in 1861)

 

From the late 1960s on, a historian could be seen as having sympathies with the IRA if he or she explored the negative effects of the Famine in too much detail. The fact that Anglo-Irish relations are now on a different footing means that historians feel less reluctant to get involved in this vexed period of our shared history. (Kevin Whelan, 1995)

 

We can feel again that it is an Irish strength to celebrate the people in our past, not for power, not for victory, but for the profound dignity of human survival. We can honor that survival best, it seems to me, by taking our folk-memory of this catastrophe into the present world with us, and allowing it to strengthen and deepen our identity with those who are still suffering. (Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland)

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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


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