Over one million people died in the Great Famine, and more than one million more emigrated on the coffin ships to America and beyond. Drawing on contemporary eyewitness accounts and diaries, the book charts the arrival of the potato blight in 1845 and the total destruction of the harvests in 1846 which brought a sense of numbing shock to the populace. Far from meeting the relief needs of the poor, the Liberal public works programme was a first example of how relief policies would themselves lead to mortality. Workhouses were swamped with thousands who had subsisted on public works and soup kitchens earlier, and who now gathered in ragged crowds. Unable to cope, workhouse staff were forced to witness hundreds die where they lay, outside the walls. The next phase of degradation was the clearances, or exterminations in popular parlance which took place on a colossal scale. From late 1847 an exodus had begun. The Famine slowly came to an end from late 1849 but the longer term consequences were to reverberate through future decades.
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Dr Ciaran O Murchadha is based at the Department of History at the National University of Ireland, Galway. His book about a single community in County Clare during the Great Famine — Sable Wings Over the Land — was published in 1998.Review:
The time is ripe for a fresh, synthetic history of the Great Irish Famine that builds on the many excellent local histories of the famine written in the 1980s and 1990s. Ciarán Ó Murchadha's lucid and moving account is exactly this: a work of great narrative and analytic power that is accessible, courageous, and ably written. It will be widely read, and deserves to be. (Professor Cormac Ó Gráda, University College Dublin)
One of the tragedies of the famine is that so many of the dead remain invisible: their deaths were unrecorded and many of the dead were buried without coffin, headstone or traditional burial rites. In actually naming some of the victims of the famine - Dennis McKennedy who was owed over two weeks wages when he died; Jeremiah Hegarty, employed on the public works, who gave his meager supply of food to his grandchildren because they were 'crying with hunger' - O Murchadha gives to the famine dead a dignity and a recognition that has been denied to them for so long. This is a compelling read for both scholars of the Famine and those who are new to the topic. It is beautifully written, rich in detail and interspersed with contemporary images that enhance the text. (Christine Kinealy, author of This Great Calamity: The Irish Famine 1845-52)
Ciarán Ó Murchadha has written an extraordinary book about the Great Famine that is full of fresh and penetrating insights into the causes of the catastrophe, the complex unfolding of the crisis, its profound consequences, and the much-debated question of responsibility. In this sweeping, powerfully evocative, and always probing account, Ó Murchadha combines his own original research and thinking with an impressive command of the extensive work done by other scholars over the last two decades. His book deserves the widest possible audience. (James S. Donnelly, Jr. Professor Emeritus of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, US)
'Building on new research from the last 15 years, O Murchadha has created a fine overview of the famine... Dr O Murchadha's book is a welcome addition to famine historiography and it demonstrates that there is still much that remains to be told about this catastrophe.'(BBC History Magazine)
'Murchadha paints a vivid portrait in words of the grim few years, supplemented by some equally harrowing pictures integrated with the text... Anybody wanting to understand some of the historical underlying resentment of the smaller nation towards the larger over the last two centuries could hardly do better than to start with this book.'(thebookbag.co.uk)
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Book Description Continuum August 2011, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 119092
Book Description Bloomsbury Academic, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M1847252176
Book Description Continuum, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 1. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX1847252176
Book Description Bloomsbury Academic, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P111847252176
Book Description Bloomsbury Academic. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 1847252176 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.0776167