2Mother IRELANDScholars, politicians and commentators argue about what happened and who was responsible. Writing and researching about the Great Irish Famine, the most tragic event in Irish history has not been straightforward. For many years, the event was cloaked in silence, its memory partially buried or neglected.But very recent scholarship has helped deepen our understanding of what took place, the reasons why, and help us understand more intimately the suffering and hurt of those who perished—the ‘true witnesses’ of this central event in this small island’s history which has transformed our own society as well as that of others around the world. NEW PUBLICATIONS: The Atlas of G.F.—50 scholars produced latest research 2012 to challenge our understanding of such a tragic event—and the manner in which governments responded to it. Sold out 5000 copies in months. John Kelly’s book etc. & New Famine Museum opened in CT.
3“IRELAND remains a canvas on which many of the broad brush strokes of the modern world’s formation – imperialism, colonialism, nationalism, revolution, emigration, democratization, et al. – can be fruitfully studied and examined.”--Peter Quinn, novelist, essayist, and a chronicler of Irish-America.
4“The Great Irish Hunger epoch changed the face and the heart of Ireland.The Famine--yielded like the ice ofthe Northern Seas;it ran like melted snows in theveins of Ireland for many years afterwards.”--Edith Somerville, Irish Memories (1917).
5A major exporter of food to Britain, including vast amounts Prior to 1845, Ireland was called “the breadbasket of the United Kingdom”.A major exporter of food to Britain, including vast amountsof high quality grain products. Irish food fueled England’s industrial revolution.
7“Ireland’s climate is salubrious, although humid with the healthy vapours of the Atlantic; its hills, (like its history,) are canopied, for the most part, with clouds; its sunshine is more rare, but for that very reason, if for no other, far more smiling and beautiful than ever beamed from Italian skies. Its mountains are numerous and lofty; its green valleys fertile as the plains of Egypt, enriched by the overflowings of the Nile.There is no country on the globe that yields a larger average of the substantial things which God has provided for the support and sustenance of human life….
8And yet, there it is that man has found himself for generations in squalid misery, in tattered garment often as at present; haggard and emaciated with hunger; his social state a contrast and an eye-sore, in the midst of the beauty and riches of nature that smile upon him, as if in cruel mockery of his unfortunate and exceptional condition.”--Bishop John Hughes, New York, (from Co Tyrone, Ireland) A Lecture on Antecedent Causes of Irish Famine
9"IRELAND by a fatal destiny, has been thrown into the ocean near England, to which it seems linked by the same bonds that unite the slave to the master….The traveler meets no equality of conditions: only magnificent castlesor miserable hovels; misery, naked and famishing shows itself everywhere …and the cause of it all? A cause primary, permanent, radical, which predominates over all others--a bad aristocracy.”-- Gustave de Beaumont, colleague of Alexis de Tocqueville, in his book: IRELAND, after he had visited Ireland in mid-1830s. (Reprinted by Harvard Press 2006)
10Alexis de Tocqueville wrote to his father from Ireland in 1835, ten years before the Famine began: "You cannot imagine what a complexity of miseries five centuries of oppression, civil disorder, and religious hostility have piled on this poor people.... [The poverty is] such as I did not imagine existed in this world. It is a frightening thing, I assure you, to see a whole population reduced to fasting like Trappists, and not being sure of surviving to the next harvest, which is still not expected for another ten days.”Same year he published his still studied Democracy in America,
11IT WAS SAID THAT THE…. “Irish peasant can live... if his crop does not fail;and he can pay his rent,and if his pig--fed like himself out of his garden--does not die.”
13Why did Ireland's economy fail to flourish and develop on a par with the rest of Europe after 17th century— How did the Irish become so dependent on the potato? ♦ English law replaces Irish law in 17th century ♦ Brehon legal system collapsed: was based on honor and principles of social justice - managed to survive for almost three millennia and to remain the law of the Irish until the Cromwellian onslaught of the 17th century. ♦ Property rights obliterated ♦ Property of the native Irish confiscated - ownership transferred to British settlers ♦ Penal laws in 1695 by British government (repealed 1820s just before Famine): Banned Catholics from: owning land - having a gun - being involved in politics - receiving education (except in the Protestant faith) - owning a horse over £5 value. Penal laws imposed an attempt to force Irish Catholics to convert to Protestantism; Effects not merely confined to religion, but had profound economic effects and on the agricultural economy—ownership and use of land.The GREAT FAMINE—GREAT HUNGER of 1840s Ireland cannot be understood WITHOUT an historical perspective of the colonization of Ireland.The English invasion, conquest and colonization in Ireland resulted in the wholesale destruction of property rights of the Irish people and the imposition of English feudal concepts and common law which was incompatible with the ancient principles of Irish Law which had developed over the previous 3000 years.Although, traces of the native Irish way of life and law and society survived to the 17th century, it rapidly was totally vanished from the land. The English conquest meant a vast displacement and dispossession of the Irish landholding classes and tenants as well. Most of the Irish were reduced to tenants or serfdom in their own land. (“Property Rights in Celtic Irish Law” by Joseph Peden, Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1977)The stage was set for a disaster unimaginable-- when the potato fungus visited the island.
14Edmund Burke described Penal Laws (1792): “a machine of wise and elaborate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement in them of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”
15Dependency on Potatoes Dependency of Irish people on a potato crop is primarily explained through the pre-famine land system and the result of colonization by the English.The Irish people were British subjects at this time. (Act of Union 1800)The law doth punish man or womanThat stole the goose from off the common;But lets the greater felon looseThat stole the common from the goose.(anonymous: West Cork, 1800 A.D., making reference to Act of Union when British abolished Irish parliament)By 1830s, 95 per cent of Irish land was owned by about 5,000 English landlords, having been confiscated by conquest, colonization and plantation policies of British monarchs and governments, especially since time of Elizabeth I, “Queen regnant of England & Ireland” ( ).Between one-half and two-thirds of Ireland's landowners were permanent absentees, who governed their Irish estates through agents and middlemen whose mandate was to extract the largest amount of profit from the land.The Famine would not have been so lethal had Poverty no reduced the bottom one-third of the population to an almost exclusive dependence on the potato for sustenance. The half-century or so before the Famine was a period of increasing impoverishment for the landless poor. On eve of FAMINE Ireland looked much like the condition of Ethiopia and Somalia today. (Cormac O’Grada)In the 1800s, George III’s government took up once again the perpetual nuisance of Ireland, a province united by conquest and law to the Kingdom. We know about this George and his government’s policies toward its colonies from our own successful Revolution.With the Act of Union, 1800, In theory, Ireland was an integral part of Great Britain. Its counties and their subjects were as precious to the Crown as the souls in English shires, but in reality they were not.
16Potato becomes staple diet By the late 17th century, the potato had become widespread as a supplementary rather than a principal food, as the main diet still revolved around butter, milk, and grain products.In the first two decades of the 18th century, however, the potato became a base food of the poor, especially in winter. The expansion of the economy between 1760 and 1815 saw the potato make inroads in the diet of the people and became a staple all the year round for farmers.“Although Ireland was very poor in the pre-Famine decades, it was not overpopulated (as some have tried to suggest). Chicago based economic historian Joel Mokyr has studied economic and demographic data and concluded:”The real problem was that Ireland was considered by Britain as an alien and even hostile country. When the chips were down in the frightful summer of 1847, the British simply abandoned the Irish and let them perish.” p. xiv. In Atlas of G. F
17_____________________ The large dependency on this single crop was one of the reasons why the emergence of Phytophthora infestans had such devastating effects in Ireland, and had far less effects in other European countries (which were also hit by the fungus).These unequal conditions, coupled with the incompetence and greed of the landowners, could only lead to a catastrophe for Ireland when the potato blight struck in Ireland on 9 September 1845._____________________
18An Irish poet in 1849 gives his version of what happened: God sent a curse upon the land because her sons were slaves; The rich earth brought forth rottenness, and gardens became graves; The green crops withered in the field, all blackened by the curse, And wedding gay and dance gave way to coffin and to hearse.
20Effect of Potato Blight The effect of the crisis on IRELAND was incomparable for the devastation it wrought, causing 1 million dead and another million and a half plus refugees and spurring a century-long population decline.Although blight ravaged potato crops throughout Europe during the 1840s, the impact and human cost in Ireland – where one-third of the population was entirely dependent on the potato for food – was exacerbated by a host of political, social and economic factors which remain the subject of historical debate.
21DEATHS during FAMINE (1845-1852) Ireland – 1 millionIreland: births fell by a third, resulting in 0.5 million "lost lives“ [‘Averted births’].Belgium - 40,000–50,000Prussia (Germany) - 42,000France - 10,000Reduction of births: Famine—starvation reduces woman’s ability to conceive; reduces libido; postpones marriage; frequent spousal separationKarl Marx in Das Kapital observed: The IRISH Famine kills “poor devils only” – many who were not abjectly poor and starving, died of famine-related diseases.Medical progress, by shielding the rich from infection, made famine even more class-specific.As in most famines, ELDERLY and the YOUNG were most likely to succumb.BUT, Women proved marginally more resilient than men. Nearly 3 times more men than women died.
22Famine DiseasesStarvation and dietary deficiency diseases, e.g. scurvy and pellagra, accounted for some famine deaths but the vast majority were caused by one or other of a host of contagious or communicable diseases that raged during these years: Typhus fever, relapsing fever, typhoid or enteric fever, dysentery, diarrhea, tuberculosis, smallpox, measles among children, and Asiatic cholera (which broke out in 1848.)Enteric fever: elevation of body temp above normal caused by typhoid fever.Relapsing fever: bacteria live in rodents, insect—ticks, body vice. High fever etc.Too horrifying to be more clinical about this way of dying.
23Charles Trevelyn, British relief administrator writes about Irish Famine: "The judgment of God sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson, that calamity must not be too much mitigated...The famine will produce permanent good out of transient evil.” [Malthusian providentialism]“The real 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."
24Eyewitness to FAMINEEducator, reformer & eyewitness to Famine in Ireland“I visited Ireland to see it as it is, so I report it as I “Never have I seen slaves found it. I have stayed to so degraded. These poor witness that which,creatures are in virtual though so heart-rending bondage to their landlords and painful, has given me and superiors as is possible the proof of what for the mind and body common observation told to be.” me in the beginning – that there must needs be an explosion of some kind or other. ““It was in the garrets and cellars of New York that I first became acquainted with the Irish peasantry”.bShe said: “It was in the garrets and cellars of New York that I first became acquainted with the Irish peasantry, and it was there I saw that they were a suffering people” as she worked among Irish immigrants from her boarding house on the edge of New York’s notorious Five Points.“A protestant love-song to a Catholic people”. –Frank O’Connor, Irish short story writer.
25“Famine, Eviction, Revolution” The Poor Old Woman[Famine Times-Co Waterford, IRELAND]&THE COMERAGHSRecitation by Seán MurphyKilmacthomas, County WaterfordSEAN BHEAN BHOCHT
27Britain’s laissez-faire policy: Dominant economic theory - mid-19th century: It is not government's job to provide aid for its citizens, or to interfere with free market of goods or trade.Do nothing that might diminish the profits of the landholders and landlords in English society.Leave capitalism alone. laissez-faire = "let them do as they will". Some workhouses & soup kitchens provided, but discontinued.“Let Irish property pay for Irish poverty.”When the fungus struck, limited measures were taken: American corn imported, public works, soup kitchens, a variety of attempts in the face of spreading, insistent starvation, until fatigue and frustration set in, until the servants of the iron laws of economics laid bare, the logic of market forces. Let nature take its course, we cannot interfere. Let them do as they will.British government WAS Well informed of plight of starving by reports of civil servants.Policy makers adamant that prolonged government intervention was not the cure of Ireland's ills. Stopped Soup Kitchens & Public Works—Closed Food Deports.Government accepted principle: that a wise and good government entailed leaving FAMINE to run its course.The government turned away, but not before a final act, as well as starvation, eviction would help rid Ireland of its wretched burden of subtenants whose very existence, it was said, blocked the path to progress. (P. Quinn)The poor, they said, are the cause of their own misery, let them bear the consequences and learn to be ambitious. The fault is not in the stars, or in the laws, but in the people’s wild, wasted ways, in the guile and indolence of Irish beggardom.British Prime Minister Lord Russell positively spread the Famine, by making the half-starved populations of Ireland pay for the starved ones. (Chesterton)
28Malthusian providentialism “the conviction that the potato blight was a divinely ordained remedy for Irish overpopulation.” Trevelyan wrote that the famine was a "mechanism for reducing surplus population," a view influenced by the thought of Thomas Robert Malthus who wrote: “The great law of necessity which prevents population from increasing in any country beyond the food which it can either produce or acquire, is a law so open to our view...that we cannot for a moment doubt it.” (1798) Malthus proposed the gradual abolition of Poor Laws by gradually reducing the number of persons qualifying for relief. Relief in dire distress would come from private charity. ♦Positive checks to over-population: hunger, disease and war; ♦Preventive checks: abortion, birth control, prostitution, postponement of marriage and celibacy.A disaster, a crisis of some kind must intervene to correct over population.that sooner or later population gets checked by famine and disease.A national politician in our country said over the past year regarding government budget proposals to provide “entitlements” to the needy (I.e.. food, medical services, subsistence living supports) "…This is a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency." .John Kelly author of a new book: The Graves are Walking: The G.F. and Sage of the Irish People wrote: “to my famine-trained ears, I hear an eerie echo to Trevelyan’s comments about the starving Irish: “The real 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.The same national politicians declared that America was at an “insidious moral tipping point,…and went on to say that a capacious safety net …”drains them of their very will and incentive to make the most of their lives. It’s demeaning.”
29Charles Trevelyan’s PRAYER for the IRISH - 1847 Official view of British Government, in Edinburg Review & as a Pamphlet on THE IRISH CRISIS, published 1847, Trevelyan warned of need to eliminate “the canker of state dependency” manifest in the tendency of all Irish classes to “make a poor mouth”. Trevelyan concluded his report with this prayer: “God grant that the generation to which this great opportunity has been offered may rightly perform its part, and that we may not relax our efforts until IRELAND fully participates in the social health and physical prosperity of Great Britain, which will be the true consummation of their union!’”Such racist and sectarian views of the Irish, common within English governing classes at that time, reflected the prevailing Whig economic and social opinion and that of the Prime Minister, Lord John Russell, who held office from 1846 until 1852.A political economist adviser at that time in the British government, Nassau Senior wrote that 'the famine of 1848 in Ireland would not kill more than a million people and that would scarcely be enough to do much good.’“The Times, which had then a national authority and respectability which gave its words a weight unknown in modern journalism, openly exulted in the prospect of a Golden Age when the kind of Irishman native to Ireland would be “as rare on the banks of the Liffey as a red man on the banks of the Manhattan.”Trevelyan was knighted for his work in Ireland in 1848.
30EVICTIONS"Undoubtedly it was the landlord's right to do as he pleased.....the tenants must be taught by the strong arm of the law that they had no power to oppose or resist.....property would be valueless and capital would no longer be invested....if it were not acknowledged that it was the landlord's undoubted, indefeasible and most sacred right to deal with his property as he list". Lord Brougham, Free Market supporter, in the British House of Lords, March An eviction – loss of house and land resulted in emigration or death 4,000 families were evicted in 1846, 6,000 families were evicted in 1847, 9,500 families were evicted in 1848, 16,500 families were evicted in 1849, 20,000 families were evicted in 1850 and 13,000 families were evicted in 1851.
32Abundance of food available in Ireland during the Famine years In the long and troubled history of England and Ireland no issue has provoked so much anger or so embittered relations between the two countries as the indisputable fact that huge quantities of food were exported from Ireland to England throughout the period when the people of Ireland were dying of starvation.Famine did not hit every square inch of Ireland equally—some hit not so bad, and some not at all—life went on. SEE MAP: SEVERITY OF THE G.F. IN IRELAND (Back side of map on Monasteries in Ireland c. 650). Green & Grey sections –– barely at all—most severe in Far West and South West (more rural and Gaelic speaking areas.)
33Shipments to British Ports from Ireland 1847 (worst year of famine) Irish exports to England in 1847 “The British government decided to leave food import and distribution to free market forces and allowed vast amounts of foodstuffs to be exported from Ireland.” --Christine Kinealy, Famine ScholarShipments to British Ports from Ireland 1847 (worst year of famine)4,000 ships carrying peas, beans, rabbits, salmon, honey, potatoes9,992 Irish cattle4,000 Irish horses and ponies1,000,000 gallons of butter1,700,000 gallons of grain-derived alcoholChristine Kineally continues her research on the FAMINE. She says she:“In looking at the issue of food exports”, ---- “the role of ideology has been emphasized whilst the financial motivations…have been underestimated….The role of Irish farmers and merchants, both individually and collectively, has been neglected.”She painstakingly examined the shipping manifests at the time of the FAMINE in Ireland. She found that exports of grain, and many other products, had indeed continued throughout the Famine from ports all over Ireland to Britain, and that “disease and starvation existed side-by-side with a substantial commercial sector.”Dr. John Lahey, president of Quinnipiac University, home the Great Famine Museum (2012-October) credits Kinealy with sparking his deep interest in the Famine, and in re-evaluating how it is remembered. “[She] really blew the lid off all of the inaccuracies and the dramatically downplayed scale of the tragedy”.The poet, Lady Jane Wilde’s poem, THE FAMINE YEAR, was published on 23 January 1847 in the Nation. It was a searing indictment on the egregious policies of the British government, but it was also a clarion call to Irish nationalists and radicals to do something. Throughout, the language was impassioned and angry, as befitted the times. …NEXT SLIDE: 1 verse
34Lady Jane Wilde, in poem: THE STRICKEN LAND - 1847 Weary man, what reap ye? -- "Golden corn for the stranger." What sow ye? -- "Human corpses that wait for the avenger." Fainting forms, hunger-stricken, what see ye in the offing? "Stately ships to bear our food away amid the stranger's scoffing." There’s a proud array of soldiers — what do they round your door? They guard our masters’ granaries from the thin hands of the poor. Pale mothers, wherefore weeping— would to God that we were dead; Our children swoon before us, and we cannot give them bread.
35British RELIEF The British government spent more money on the military and police to protect the Landowners than on relief to feed starving Irish: ₤ 10 million for military in Ireland ₤ 4 million for constabulary police in Ireland—for Evictions ₤14 million – Total for military/police £20 million compensation to West Indian slave-owners in 1830s. (none to the freed slaves)--Peter Gray, Irish Famine (1995) £69 million on the Crimean War (1854 – 56). £7 million for relief in Ireland between 1845 and 1850, "representing less than half of one percent of the British gross national product over five years, AND, ₤9.5 million for food relief & other relief of Irish people.Of all the relief efforts (check chart in magazine and timeline card), it was the QUAKERS who did the most in everyone’s opinion: soup kitchens, money and services.
36Greatest Tragedy since the Black Death - 2 and ½ million people fled Ireland by 1855 - “Part of the horror of the Famine is its atavistic nature—the mind-shattering fact that an event with all the premodern character of a medieval pestilence happened in Ireland [in 19th century] with frightening recentness. This deathly origin then shattered space as well as time, unmaking the nation and scattering Irish people and history across the globe.” Terry Eagelton, literary scholar & critic.“The Irish famine was the greatest single peace-time tragedy since the [fourteenth century] Black Death.” Joe Lee, Irish historian.The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30–60 percent of Europe's population.All in all, the plague reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in the 14th century.
37The Scattering 1.5 million emigrated during famine years 1845-1851. 1 million diedNearly 30% of Irish people vanished from the land.By the end of 1854 nearly two million Irish people - a quarter of the population - had emigrated to the United States in ten years.The famine was an exodus, a wound that would not clot. For everyone who could beg or borrow the fare, for those assisted by their landlords, there was emigration, escape. Two million people, a quarter of th Irish people, left in the space of ten years.The cities of the English speaking world—from London to Boston and New York and Chicago and beyond were to be the major recipients of the fleeing Irish creating what one historian called ‘the GREEN Atlantic”—a powerful voice when issues of independence from Britain intensified over the next decades.In Ireland, the impact and aftermath of the Famine set in motion a social and economic revolution which consolidated farms, intensified an almost pathological love of the land, institutionalized late or no marriages and still populated the workhouses and asylums.It also rejuvenated the Catholic Church as a cultural power where the number of Irish men and women who entered various religious orders increased from 5,000 in 1851 to over 14,000 in 1900.Proportinaley, fewer priests died than among the people.Irish seminarians trained in France- Manichean-body is bad—Irish were noi always so ‘pious’.Prior the famine, an estimated 40% of the Irish were rooted in the Pre-Christian Celtic world and culture (pagan). Many of those Irish speaking natives died or emigrated, leaving few links with its ancient Celtic traditions behind.
38If ONE QUARTER of USA Vanished MINUS 14 STATES: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada , Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska
39POPULATION DECLINE &EMIGRATION 1820 to 1920: 4,400,000+ people emigrated to USA.Population: 8.5 million (1845) declined to 6.5 million (1857)Today (2012) for all of Ireland: 6,399,152Ireland has never increased to its pre-famine population of 8.5 million.
40Emigrants Awaiting Embarcation, West Cork Robert Scanlon 1852.
41Before the Famine, one million Irish had emigrated to North American between Between , an unprecedented exodus of 1.5 million Irish sailed to US and another 340,000 to Canada. Between 200,000 to 300,000 settled permanently in G. Britain, at least 50,000 to Australia, New Zealand and other destinations. In Black’47 – over 214,000 Irish fled in what one historian calls a "headlong fight of refugees which bore all the marks of panic and hysteria.”The many sounds of the lively pre-famine world were now replaced by an eerie silence.—a silent spring (Rachel Carson would have called it.) And the cumulative impact of laisse-faire economic policies shattered any misconceptions Irish people might have held about the benefits of the union with Britain.
42Legacy & Loss after FAMINE GAELIC Language & Culture Marriage rates slumped; birth rates declinedColonization engendered sense of shame in traditional Gaelic culture & languageGaelic Language declinedDeath & Emigration-large proportion of Irish speakersEffect of loss of his father’s Gaelic language after the famine: “He says they lost their language and now they’re all walking around like ghosts, following maps with invisible streets and invisible place names. He says the Irish are still in hiding in a foreign language.” (in The Sailor in the Wardrobe by Hugh Hamilton)James Joyce: Even when an Englishman and an Irishman utter the same words, their experience of English is different.(Story of Mary Nolan, Cork-Irish speaker 6 weeks in Canada-felt unease—”we Irish like to tease a meaning out in conversation, not “get to the point fast”.Native language expresses insights, folk wisdom accumulated over centuries—the unique and defining characteristics of a peopleIrish was perceived as the language of manuscripts, the past, the hearth—useless.Language is linked to landscape & place names. (Brian Friel:”Translations” when British Anglicized all signs and local namesIRISH = peasants, ignorant, povertyENGLISH = cities, education, economics, emigration, rule of law
43Legacy of Famine in Music Story lives on in Song at Rugby “The sheer strength and resilience of Famine narratives are sometimes most evidentin the unlikeliest of places. Any Irish sporting team playing in an international game(soccer, rugby, GAA) will be serenaded by supporters--homeland and diasporic--singing Pete St John’s popular (1979) and enduring Fields of Athenry .” (Atlas of Great Famine, 2012)By a lonely prison wallI heard a young girl callingMichael, they have taken you awayFor you stole Trevelyan's cornSo the young might see the morn.Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay….CHORUSLow lie the Fields of AthenryWhere once we watched the small free birds fly.Our love was on the wing we had dreams and songs to singIt's so lonely 'round the Fields of Athenry.
44SKIBBEREEN -One of the most famous and widely sung Famine songs was written by poet Patrick Carpenter of Skibbereen, Co. Cork. (The Irish Singer's Own Book, Boston, 1880)While preparing these notes, I called my singing friend in Chicago, Paddy Homan, who holds forth every Sunday night at the Galway Arms Pub for past 5 years and asked if he ever sings this. He said, he sang it last weekend, and frequently by request. -- The song begins with a little boy, asking his father, why did we leave? Reminds me of Passover when the youngest son asks father: what is special about this night?
45QUESTION: “How could the greatest famine in l9th century Europe QUESTION: “How could the greatest famine in l9th century Europe have persisted in the back yard of the wealthiest empire in the world?”—Simon Schama, New Yorker. August, : Daniel O’Connell, the great liberator and defender of Ireland, in his last speech in House of Commons, a few months before he died pleaded: “Ireland is in your hands, in your power; if you do not save her, she cannot save herself. I solemnly call on you to recollect that I predict, with the sincerest conviction, that one-fourth of our population will perish unless you come to her relief.” (He was precisely accurate in his predictions) : Prime Minister John Russell said the same year: “We have in the opinion of Great Britain done too much for Ireland and have lost elections for doing so.” (The worst was yet to come) : Prime Minister Tony Blair in his statement, 150 years later said: "The famine was a defining event in the history of Ireland and Britain. It has left deep scars. That one million people should have died in what was then part of the richest and most powerful nation in the world is something that still causes pain as we reflect on it today. Those who governed in London at the time failed their people“ read by actor Gabriel Byrne in Cork at 1997 commemoration of the Famine : Discussion & scholarship continues today. New books & Museum.
46ATLAS OF GREAT IRISH FAMINE Sept. 2012 Two other new books in last two years:The Graves Are Walking. The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People. John KellyThe Great Famine: Ireland's Agony : Ciarán Ó Murchadha 2011
47Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum Quinnipiac University, Hampden, Ctannounced October 2012 the opening ofIreland’s Great Hunger Museum
49Scholarship Today2012 Famine scholars today “give us a view of famine administration which is closer to Cecil Woodham Smith’s [best seller book, 1962]” (quote in Atlas of Great Irish Famine-March 2012):“No issue has provoked so much anger or so embittered relations between the two countries [England and Ireland] as the indisputable fact that huge quantities of food were exported from Ireland to England throughout the period when the people of Ireland were dying of starvation“, Cecil Woodham-Smith in The Great Hunger: Ireland: , best-seller book published 1962.2012 ”Despite the overwhelming evidence of prolonged distress caused by successive years of potato blight, the underlying philosophy of the relief efforts was that they should be kept to a minimalist level; in fact they actually decreased as the Famine progressed… “Disease and starvation existed side-by-side with a substantial and flourishing commercial sector.” --Christine Kinealy, a leading scholar on the Great Famine. Irish America Magazine (July, 2012).2002“Colonial Britain let millions of people die from starvation in India and Ireland to avoid paying for costly aid efforts.” --Simon Schama, British scholar, professor of art & history, Columbia University.1997 "Clearly, during the years 1845 to 1850, the British government pursued a policy of mass starvation in Ireland with intent to destroy in substantial part the national, ethnical, and racial group known as the Irish People.” -- Francis Boyle, professor of international law at University of Illinois.
50Scholars cont’d…1965 “In the late 1840s, 'all Ireland was a Belsen’, ” a sweeping reference to the notorious German extermination camp. This Oxford scholar minced no words: 'The English governing class ran true to form. They had killed two million Irish people.' …And that the death toll was not higher 'was not for want of trying'. --A.J.P. Taylor, of Oxford University, distinguished historian of modern Germany; columnist in London Review of Books, in his review of The Great Hunger by Cecil-Woodham Smith in New Statesman.1965 Taylor’s comment drew many responses: “Mr. F. H. Hinsley calls it a “gaffe” when A.J.P. Taylor says that in the Great Famine ‘all Ireland was a Belsen’. I was with a Quaker relief unit at Belsen, and I have read Miss Woodham-Smith’s book about the Irish famine. I see no “gaffe”. --J. M. Hinton, Fellow/ Tutor in philosophy, Worcester College, Oxford. Letter in New York Review of Books.
51G.K. Chesterton: “Wilful murder” “The British Prime Minister positively spread the Famine, by making the half-starved populations of Ireland pay for the starved ones. The common verdict of a coroner’s jury upon some emaciated wretch was ‘Wilful murder by Lord John Russell’: and that verdict was not only the verdict of Irish public opinion, but is the verdict of history.“-- Crimes of England“And I seriously believe I am not deceived by any national bias, when I say that the common Englishman would be quite incapable of the cruelties that were committed in his name.”G. K. Chesterton d. 1936
52“Deliberately used Famine to thin out Irish” - 2011 “If you’re talking about a Jewish-style holocaust, a deliberate attempt such as by the Nazis to annihilate an entire people, then it’s not that kind of genocide. But there is a case for asking if the British deliberately used the Famine to thin out the ranks of the Irish by allowing mass death and emigration after 1847.”---Dr Ciarán Ó Murchadha, The Great Famine: Ireland’s Agony 1845 – 52
53“It was a British Famine” - 2012 “It is incorrect to describe this event as the Irish Famine; it is more accurately the British famine, occurring within the United Kingdom. And if we adopted the term the British famine, it would encourage us to think harder about how surprising it was that famine should sweep so unhindered through the most powerful state on the planet. “Kevin Whelan, review of Atlas of Great Irish Famine, Sept. 1, 2012, IRISH TIMES
54“Tracing Tragedy in Ireland”, Travel Feature, New York Times by Christine Cozens, June 1, 1997 — a letter in response To the Editor: A potato blight did not kill and banish millions of Irish in the 1800's, as Christine S. Cozzens reports in ''Tracing Tragedy in Ireland'' (June 1, 1997). Hardly a ''dietary staple,'' the potato was the only food English landlords permitted the Irish to eat. During the Hunger, Ireland was bountiful in grains and dairy, which the English continued to export for profit. However, Ms. Cozzens all but praises the English for their good works during the ensuing starvation: the pitiful sludge she calls broth and the building projects, which worked starving men until they dropped. I am horrified by the Anglicized version of Irish history. -NANCY STONE, Brooklyn Published: July 13, Reply by author>>
55Ms Cozzens, the author, responds to letter regarding Tracing Tragedy in Ireland: “A travel article is necessarily tied to destinations and activities that a visitor can experience. My article focused on the famine's physical legacy and not on the very complicated historical and political ramifications, which continue to inspire heated political debate to the farthest reaches of the Irish diaspora. Ms. Stone might be interested to know that the print sources I consulted to provide some context for my observations represent the most recent Irish scholarship. (??-Bob) The picture of what occurred is still being filled in but is very much more nuanced than she implies.” --Published: July 13, 1997, New York Times
56John Mitchel famously put it, that "The Almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight, but the English created the Famine."
57George Bernard Shaw of Dublin, 50 years after the Potato Blight in Man and Superman: VIOLET: The Famine?MALONE: No, the starvation. When a country is full of food, and exporting it, there can be no famine. Me father was starved dead; and I was starved out to America in me mother’s arms. English rule drove me and mine out of Ireland.The Almighty indeed sent the potato blight, but the English created the Famine. –John Mitchel 1861
58FAMINE in Art, Sketch, Cartoon Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, IRELANDIllustrated London NewsPUNCHFAMINE: in Art, Sketch, Cartoon13.66 mins.
59Andrew Greeley, sociologist writes about the IRISH Famine No Western country offers better evidence than Ireland for the conclusion that all human hopes are futile, all human passions vanity and all human effort useless.Nor does any country provide more fascinating proof of the obdurate refusal of humankind to give up in the face of tragedy.My interviews: October 2012A friend in Waterford softly recited "They shattered many a home, Drove our people o'er the foam, In a foreign land to roam, Says the Sean Bhean Bhocht. They destroyed our ancient trade, Says the Sean Bhean Bhocht, And paupers of us made, Says the Sean Bhean Bhocht. What cared they, if unemployed, Our people starved and died. And for bread our children cried, Says the Sean Bhean Bhocht.Emotionally, it was a holocaust.It was poor administration on the part of the English.Genocide--it was a holocaust of the Irish.It killed the Irish language.We (from the North) are the only ones who live on the whole island of Ireland.The British did the best they could.From a retired Irish diplomat: The history of Ireland is really the history of an English colony .(I find that the recently published Atlas says: Famine cannot be understood without understanding the colonization of Ireland by Britain--Bob)The Irish people have terror to be open.When I showed a friend in Cork the pamphlet from museum in COBH which lists as reasons why so many Irish left Ireland: "poverty-widespread potato crop failure-land system-lack of opportunity", it nowhere uses the word British or English to explain the 1 million deaths and several millions migrating, my friend, shouted: "but what about the British". I shall give out the pamphlet (I got 25) in my class, but I have already printed a sticker for each pamphlet that says: "As result of British conquest and colonization....."Kevin Whelan's review of the new Atlas hits the nail: "It is incorrect to describe this event as the Irish Famine; it is more accurately the British famine, occurring within the United Kingdom. And if we adopted the term the British famine, it would encourage us to think harder about how surprising it was that famine should sweep so unhindered through the most powerful state on the planet. " (Irish Times, Sept. 1, 2012)
60Irish President Mary Robinson “Let us not be prisoners of our history. The best possible commemoration of the men and women who died in that Famine, who were cast up on other shores because of it, is to take their dispossession into the present with us, to help others who now suffer in a similar way.”[UN Commissioner of Human Rights ]