The Great Famine of 1845-9 remains the great climacteric in Irish history. It does so for two reasons. The first is that it occurred at a time when famines on a major scale had become a thing of the past in Western Europe and in part of the economically most advanced political entity in the world - the United Kingdom. The second reason is that the Great Famine has entered deeply into the psyche of the nation. Ireland without the Great Famine would be an Ireland without an emigrant history, without the Irish Diaspora, without the tales of the dispossessed, and without the myths and realities that shape the culture of the nation. The first volume includes a general introduction and a reprint of Sir William Wilde's, 'Table of cosmical phenomena, epizootics, epiphitics, famines and pestilences in Ireland', published in 1856 as part of the preface to the Census of Ireland for the year 1851 (Part V, Tables of Deaths, vol. I). Wilde's own analysis of the tableis also included. The second volume contains reprints of contemporary works relating to the Great Famine including writings on the medical conditions in Ireland at the time gathered from the Dublin Journal of Medical Science and similar publications. Many of these were from the pen of Sir William Wilde or were commissioned by him. Volumes 3 and 4 contain the complete text of Francis Barker and John Cheyne's work which used the extreme shortages verging on famine experienced between 1816 and 1819 to examine similar issues to the ones that Wilde encountered. The fifth volume continues with writings relevant to earlier famines in Ireland. The volumes will be of great interest to historians of Ireland and will be equally relevant to students of development and famine studies.
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