Search Results for 'Great Famine'
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Whatever about the discrimination against the Irish emigrants in both Britain and America as they fled the ravages of the Great Famine in the mid 19th century, the effect of gaining a foothold in the two major English speaking countries of the world, pretty much sounded the death knell for the Irish language.
When Charles Dickens first visited the United States in January 1842, the popularity of his books was such that he was mobbed by adoring crowds, feted and dined as the major celebrity that he undoubtedly was, and was guest of honour at a famous Valentine’s Ball in New York attended by 3,000 of the city’s great and good.
Between the years 1845 and 1855 more than 2.1 million people emigrated from Ireland. They streamed into Liverpool, Manchester, Boston and New York. Many were diseased, hungry, dirty, broken spirited, with barely any personal belongings. Some embarked actually naked.
A new 'Spirit of Place' art installation was officially unveiled in Swinford last Friday.
One of the remedies in dealing with overcrowding, and rebellious behaviour from frustrated and angry women in the workhouses during the famine years, was assisted emigration. This was done on a massive scale. Between 1848 and 1850, 4,175 women were sent direct from the workhouse system to Australia. This was in addition to the thousands already sent away assisted by landlords and other schemes to clear the land of unproductive tenants. The only cost to the individual Poor Law unions was for new clothes, and travel expenses to Plymouth, from where the girls embarked to the colony.
During the seven years of the Great Famine approximately one million people died. A million more emigrated causing Ireland’s population to fall by between 20 and 25 per cent. The initial cause of famine was a potato disease which ravaged potato crops throughout Europe during the 1840s.
As the Great Famine strengthened its fearsome grip on Ireland in the late 1840s and early 1850s, the people were doubly unfortunate that Charles Trevelyan, the Assistant Secretary to the British Treasury, had responsibility for Irish Famine relief.
Although the Great Irish Famine, which devastated Ireland in the 1840s and early 1850s, happened at a time when photography was only in its experimental stage, we still have vivid images of the appalling suffering that the vast majority of the people endured. A suffering that was heightened by systematic neglect by government, the total absence of a comprehensive humanitarian plan of relief, and the law of the land which only supported the rights of landlords.*
A surprising rescuer of the Tuke assisted emigration scheme from the west of Ireland came from the London government. After the first group of 1,315 people had sailed from Galway for America on April 28 1882, the Tukes’ emigration fund was practically exhausted. Yet the demand for places grew each day. Now more than 6,000 applications, mainly from the Clifden area, but also from Belmullet, Newport and Oughterard, poured into the Clifden union where James Hack Tuke had his office. While poverty and famine remained endemic in the west of Ireland, people with spirit must have felt that the day-to-day grind was never ending. The threat of another Great Famine was very real. They wanted a new life.
The agricultural crisis of 1879, and growing civic unrest, prompted the Society of Friends in England to send James Hack Tuke to the west to inquire into conditions and to distribute relief. Tuke, the son of a well-to-do tea and coffee merchant family in York, England, published his observations in Irish Distress and its Remedies: A visit to Donegal and Connaught in the spring of 1880. In clear-cut language he highlighted the widespread distress and destitution at a time when the British government questioned the extent of the crisis.