Ireland’s Great Famine of 1845–52 was among the most devastating food crises in modern history. A country of some eight-and-a-half-million people lost one million to hunger and disease and another million to emigration. According to land activist Michael Davitt, the starving made little or no effort to assert "the animal’s right to existence," passively accepting their fate. But the poor did resist. In word and deed, they defied landlords, merchants and agents of the state: they rioted for food, opposed rent and rate collection, challenged the decisions of those controlling relief works, and scorned clergymen who attributed their suffering to the Almighty. The essays collected here examine the full range of resistance in the Great Famine, and illuminate how the crisis itself transformed popular politics. Contributors include distinguished scholars of modern Ireland and emerging historians and critics. This book is essential reading for students of modern Ireland, and the global history of collective action.
Editors’ Introduction: ‘To Assert Even the Animal’s Right of Existence’ Enda Delaney and Breandán Mac Suibhne 1. ‘’Tis Hard to Argue Starvation into Quiet’: Protest and Resistance, 1846–47 John Cunningham 2. ‘The Tottering, Fluttering, Palpitating Mass’: Power and Hunger in Nineteenth Century Literary Responses to the Great Famine Melissa Fegan 3. Soup and Providence: Varieties of Protestantism and the Great Famine David W. Miller 4. Walking Backward to Heaven?: Edmond Ronayne’s Pilgrimage in Famine Ireland and Gilded Age America Kerby A. Miller and Ellen Skerrett, with Bridget Kelly 5. The Great Famine, Land and the Making of the Graziers David S. Jones 6. Aspects of Agency: John Ross Mahon, Accommodation and Resistance on the Strokestown Estate, 1845–51 Ciarán Reilly 7. ‘Bastard Ribbonism’: The Molly Maguires, the Uneven Failure of Entitlement and the Politics of Post-Famine Adjustment Breandán Mac Suibhne