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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.
It is said that all political careers end in failure. The great Daniel O’Connell’s final slide into earthly oblivion was heralded by the now familiar sight of journalists descending on his estate at Derrynane, Co Kerry, the year before he died. They had scented a whiff of scandal, and like today, doorstepped him.
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 three-day conference on The Great Famine, featuring Irish and American academics, will take place this weekend in Ballinasloe.
THE GREAT American actor John Mahoney, best known for his role as Marty Crane in the classic comedy Frasier, is coming to Galway for next month’s arts festival.