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The History of the Great Irish Famine of 1847 (3rd ed.) (1902) With Notices of Earlier Irish Famines   By:

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First Page:

THE HISTORY

OF THE

GREAT IRISH FAMINE

OF

1847,

WITH NOTICES OF EARLIER IRISH FAMINES.

BY THE

REV. JOHN O'ROURKE, P.P., M.R.I.A.

THIRD EDITION.

Dublin:

JAMES DUFFY AND CO., LTD.,

15 WELLINGTON QUAY.

1902.

[ The right of translation and reproduction is reserved. ]

TO

MY FELLOW COUNTRYMEN

THIS NARRATIVE

OF ONE OF THE MOST TERRIBLE EPISODES

IN THE CHEQUERED HISTORY

OF

OUR NATIVE LAND,

IS

RESPECTFULLY AND AFFECTIONATELY

DEDICATED.

PREFACE.

The Author of this volume has, for a considerable time, been of opinion, that the leading facts of the Great Irish Famine of 1847 ought to be put together without unnecessary delay. Several reasons occurred to him why such a work should be done: the magnitude of the Famine itself; the peculiarity of its immediate cause; its influence on the destiny of the Irish Race. That there should be no unnecessary delay in performing the task was sufficiently proved, he thought, by the fact, that testimony of the most valuable kind, namely, contemporary testimony, was silently but rapidly passing away with the generation that had witnessed the Scourge.

Having made up his mind to undertake such a work, the Author's first preparation for it was, to send query sheets to such persons as were supposed to be in possession of information on the subject. And he has here to express his gratitude and thanks to his numerous correspondents, for the kindness and promptness with which his queries were answered. He cannot recall even one case in which this was not done. But there is a dark side to the picture too. In looking over the query sheets now, it is sad to find how many of those whose signatures they bear have already passed from amongst us.

Other materials of great importance lay scattered over the Public Journals of the period; were buried and stowed away in Parliamentary Blue Books, and Parliamentary debates; were to be sought for in pamphlets, in periodicals, and more especially in the Reports of the various Societies and Associations, which were appointed for dispensing the alms given with such free hand, to aid in saving the lives of the famishing people. Those Records will be found quoted and referred to in the course of the work.

Amongst them, it is but just to acknowledge, how much the Author owes to the Report of the Census Commissioners for 1851; to the "Transactions" of the Society of Friends; and to the Irish Crisis , by Sir Charles E. Trevelyan, Bart.; which originally appeared as an article in the Edinburgh Review for January, 1848, but was reprinted in a small volume of two hundred pages. Although far from agreeing with many of Sir Charles's conclusions (he was Secretary to the Treasury during the Famine), still the Author cheerfully acknowledges, that the statistical information in the Irish Crisis is very valuable to a student of the history of the Famine period.

It was to be expected, that the alarm about the Potato Blight and the Famine would be first raised through the public Press. This was done by letters from various localities, and by Special Reporters and Commissioners, who travelled through the country to examine the state of the people, as well as that of the potato crop. There was a Commissioner from the London Times in Ireland at this period. His letters written to that Journal were afterwards collected, and they made an octavo volume of nearly eight hundred pages.

The English people, and many in Ireland, long adhered to the opinion, that there was much exaggeration in the Irish Newspapers regarding both the Blight and the Famine; but subsequent investigation showed, that there was very little, if any, exaggeration; nay, that the real facts were often understated. As to the Famine, several of the gentlemen sent by the Charitable Societies to make Reports, wrote back, that there was no exaggeration whatever, and, for a very sufficient reason, namely, that, in their opinion, it was impossible to exaggerate the dreadful condition in which they found the people... Continue reading book >>




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