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 first volume addresses the questions: when did the famine begin and end; to what extent is the British government after 1846 culpable for the suffering and mortality; how important was philanthropy in alleviating the distress; what was the role and responsibility of Irish elites; is the word famine appropriate given that Ireland continued to export large amounts of food.
Part 1. Poverty and Perspectives: Ireland before 1845 1. George Nicholls Esq., Poor Laws — Ireland. Three Reports by George Nicholls, Esq., to her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department (British Parliamentary Papers, 1836-1838) 2. Lydia Jane Fisher, Letters from the Kingdom of Kerry in the Year 1845, Preface and Letter VIII(1845) 3. Reports of Messrs. Kane, Lindley and Playfair, Commissioners, On the Potatoe [sic] Disease (1845) Part 2. The Potato Blight Examined 4. Mansion House Committee, Reports of the Mansion House Committee on the Potato Disease in 1845 (1846). 5.Alfred Smee, On the cause of the Potato Disease: Aphis Vastator (1846, 1847 and 1878). Part 3. Appeals, Prays and Philanthropy 6. Dr John Edgar, A Cry for Connaught (October 1846). 7. Queen Victoria, The Queen’s Letter for Ireland (January 1847). 8. Bishop John Hughes, A Lecture on the Antecedent Causes of the Irish Famine in 1847 (New York, March 1847). Part 4. Visitors to Ireland 9. Elihu Burritt,A journal of a visit of three days to Skibbereen, and its neighbourhood (February 1847). 10. William Bennett, Six Weeks in Ireland (March and April 1847). Part 5. Official Response and Reaction 11. Isaac Butt, A Voice for Ireland, the Famine in the Land. What has been done and what is to be done (April 1847). 12. Charles E. Trevelyan, The Irish Crisis: being a narrative of the measures for the relief of the distress caused by the great Irish famine of 1846-7 (January 1848). Part 6. Reflections and Regrets 13. W. R. Wilde, Irish Popular Superstitions:Preface and pages 9-12, 72-75(1852). 14. S. Reynolds Hole, A Little Tour in Ireland by an Oxonian, Chapter V (1859). 15. John Mitchel, The Last Conquest of Ireland. Chapter xxiv (Dublin: Irishman Office, 1861). Part 7. A Poetic Ending 16. George Francis Train, Epigram on Three cheers for the Famine in George Francis Train, The People’s Candidate for President, 1872 (1872).