The Great Irish Famine remains one of the most lethal famines in modern world history and a watershed moment in the development of modern Ireland – socially, politically, demographically and culturally. In the space of only four years, Ireland lost twenty-five per cent of its population as a consequence of starvation, disease and large-scale emigration. Certain aspects of the Famine remain contested and controversial, for example the issue of the British government’s culpability, proselytism, and the reception of emigrants. However, recent historiographical focus on this famine has overshadowed the impact of other periods of subsistence crisis, both before 1845 and after 1852.
This volume seeks to counterbalance the recent historiographical focus on the Great Irish Famine which has overshadowed the impact of other periods of subsistence crisis, both before 1845 and after 1852. As occurred during the Great Famine, they often resulted in increased levels of evictions, emigration, disease and death, although the scale was lower. While the Great Famine brought major economic, social and demographic changes, large areas of the country retained pre-famine structures with many communities continuing to have a subsistence existence and, consequently, regular crop failures and famines. These lesser known famines are examined in this volume along with the causes and why they did not achieve the scale of the Great Famine.
Part 1. The Crises of the Late 1720s. 1. The Letters of Hugh Boulter, Archbishop of Armagh (1727-1729). Four letters by Hugh Boulter from, Letters written by His Excellency Hugh Boulter, D.D., Lord Primate of all Ireland, &c.to several ministers of state in England, and some others: containing an account of the most interesting transactions which passed in Ireland from 1724 to 1738, second volume (Dublin; G. Faulkner and J. Williams, 1770). Part 2. The Famine of 1740 to 1741. ‘The Year of Slaughter’. 2. Reports from English newspapers. 3. Anon,The Groans of Ireland: in a letter to a Member of Parliament(Dublin: George Faulkner, 1741). Part 3. The Famine of 1816 and 1817. 4. Distilleries – Scarcity of Provisions in Ireland’ in Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 10 March 1817, vol. 35 cc. 917-20. 5. ‘Distilleries’, Hansard, House of Lords Debates, 14 March 1817, vol. 35, cc. 1079-80. Part 4. The Famine of 1822. British and Irish Philanthropy (1822 and 1823) 6. Scarcity of Provisions in Ireland’, Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 29 April 1822, vol. 7 cc.146-50. 7. Reports from various newspapers. Extracts from The First Report of the British and Irish Ladies’ Society, for improving the Condition and promoting the Industry and Welfare of the Female Peasantry of Ireland, reprinted in the Connaught Journal,27 November 1823 Extracts from the Ladies’ Correspondence on the Clothing sent to Ireland (from: Report of the Committee for the Relief of the Distressed Districts in Ireland: appointed at a general meeting held at the City of London Tavern, on the 7th of May, 1822, with an appendix). Part 5. Famine in the 1830s. 8. ‘Famine in a Fertile Land’; Reports in the Newspapers (1831) Part 6. The Crises of the 1860s. 9. Henry Coulter, The West of Ireland: Its Existing Condition and Prospects (Dublin: Hodges & Smith and London: Hurst & Blackett, 1862), pp. 21-37. 10. The Famine from Parliamentary Papers (1862): ‘Question and Explanation’, Hansard, House of Common Debates, 14 February 1862, vol. 165, cc. 267-70. ‘Distress in Ireland’, Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 21 February 1862, vol. 165, cc. 548-92. ‘Irish Distress Observations’,Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 2 May 1862, vol. 166, cc. 1134-83. 11. Reports of the Mansion-House Committee for the Relief of Distress in Ireland, 1862; and of the Central Relief Committee, 1862-1863 (Dublin: Browne and Nolan, 1862). Part 7. Distress in the West in 1867 and 1869. 12. Correspondence from the Clifden Poor Law Guardians (Galway County Library, Clifden Poor Law Minute Book, week ending 18 May 1867). 13. The Irish Times Commissioner’s report from Connemara and west Mayo, September 1869, stating the condition of the peasantry, Irish Times, 29 September 1869. Part 8. The Forgotten Famine, 1879-81 14. Petition from the Claremorris Board of Guardians to the Lord Lieutenant (Freeman’s Journal, 4 October 1879). 15. ‘Letter from Maurice Brooks, M.P. on the distress and suggesting measures such as the provision of houses for farmers and labourers, to counteract it’,Freeman’s Journal, 4 October 1879. 16. ‘In the West’, Nation, 1 November 1879. 17.‘Declaration of the Catholic hierarchy calling on the government to introduce relief measures, other than the Poor Law, to save the people’, Freeman’s Journal, 29 October 1879. 18.‘Letter of Patrick Greally, outlining the level of distress in his parish, and advocating emigration as the panacea to the perennial destitution of the people,’Nation, 10 January 1880. 19. John Donovan to Edward McCabe (Dublin Diocesan Archives, McCabe Papers, Secular priests, 3 January 1880). 20.Speech by Rev. Patrick Coyne, Catholic Administrator of the parish of Killanin, who chaired the local Land League meeting in November 1879, highlighting conditions in the parish’, Nation, 22 November 1879. 21.Report of distress in the parish of Geesala, Co. Mayo from Rev. Patrick McHugh, C.C., the local priest, to E. Dwyer Gray, Lord Mayor of Dublin (Dublin City Archives, Mansion House Relief Committee Papers, 1880; ch/1/15/1). 22.Vere Foster’s letter to Charles Stewart Parnell (P.R.O. N.I., Vere Foster Papers, 10 January 1880). 23.Letter from Bishop Francis MacCormack to E. D. Dwyer Gray, Lord Mayor of Dublin (Dublin City Archives, Mansion House Relief Committee Papers, ch/1/10/g142, 27 January 1880). 24.‘Report from the Glenties Poor Law Union, Co. Donegal’, James H. Tuke, Irish Distress and its Remedies. The Land Question: A Visit to Donegal and Connaught in the Spring of 1880 (London: W. Ridgeway, 1880), pp. 9-24. 25. Bishop James Donnelly of Clogher to Archbishop Edward McCabe of Dublin (Dublin Diocesan Archives, McCabe Papers, Relief of Distress, 1879-8, 17 February 1880). 26. James Redpath, to Archbishop Edward McCabe of Dublin inquiring into the state of destitution and famine in the country (Dublin Diocesan Archives, McCabe Papers, Relief of Distress Papers, 15 March 1880). 27.Resolutions of the Charitable Irish Society in Boston (Minutes of Massachusetts Historical Society, Charitable Irish Society Papers, 17 March 1880). 28.Evidence of Rev. Canon Timothy Brosnan of Caherciveen, Co. Kerry (Report of Her Majesty’s Commissioners of Inquiry into the Working of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, and the Acts Amending the Same, iii, HC 1881 xix (c – 2779 ii), pp. 793-797). 29.Bishop John McDonald of Aberdeen to Archbishop Edward McCabe of Dublin (Dublin Diocesan Archive, McCabe Papers, Relief of Distress Papers, 26 February 1880). 30.‘Second Report of Mr. J. A. Fox,’ in J. A. Fox, Reports on the Condition of the Peasantry of the County of Mayo during the Famine Crisis of 1880 (Dublin: Browne and Nolan, 1880), pp. 24-38. 31. Report from Swineford, Co. Mayo from representative of the Mansion House Relief Committee, July 1880. Report of Dr. George Sigerson and Dr. Kenny on the Fever in the Western Districts (Dublin City Archives, Mansion House Relief Committee Papers, CH1/4/p. 34, July 1880). 32.‘Outbreak of Fever’, Connaught Telegraph, 26 June 1880. 33.Report from Captain Digby Morant on the distribution of relief on the West Coast of Ireland, August 1880, in Reference to Relief of Distressed Population on the West Coast of Ireland (H.C. 1880, lxii, 195, pp. 1-5). 34. Report of the Joint Committee, selected from the Committee of the Duchess of Marlborough Relief Fund and the Dublin Mansion House Fund for the Relief of Distress in Ireland, to administer the sum of 100,000 Dollars, voted by the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada, towards the Relief of Distress in Ireland (H.C. 1881, 326, lxxv), pp. 3-4. 35.Letter from the Parish Priest of Enniscrone, Co. Sligo on the girls assisted to emigrate to North America under the Vere Foster scheme (Second Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Land Law (Ireland); together with the Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence and Appendix, HC 1882 (379) xi). 36.Illustration of the vessel the Nestorian which carried 650 of the Tuke emigrants and how the scheme was seen by people in North America. The illustration indicates paupers and the workhouse on a boat arriving into Boston. Harper’s Weekly, 28 (Apr.) April 1883. 37. Fanny Parnell’s, ‘Hold the Harvest’ (1880) and ‘The Hovels of Ireland’ (1880). Part 9. The Crises of the 1880s and 1890s 38.MEMORANDA of STATEMENT made to His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland by the Catholic Prelates of Connaught, relative to the Destitution in their respective Dioceses (Connaught Telegraph, 9 January 1883). 39.Report from December 1885 on how Irish servant girls in Boston remit money back to Ireland to help their families (Boston Daily Globe, 14 December 1885). 40. The recollections from Henry Robinson of the government response to the crisis of 1885-1886. Henry Robinson, Memories: Wise and Otherwise (London: Cassell and Co., 1923). 41. Evidence of Rev. T. Flannery of Clifden to the Poor Relief (Ireland) Inquiry on the 13