The Famine Irish in Saint John, New Brunswick: A Visit by Kayak to Partridge Island National Historic Site
Above: Irish Catholic Burial Ground
Above: Irish Catholic Burial Ground
To book your place:
Irish Journeys: Famine Legacies and Reconnecting Communities.
The 2018 Irish Famine Summer School and International Conference:
Irish National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park House, the Irish Heritage Trust, and Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University
The 2018 Irish Famine Summer School will take place at Strokestown Park House from 20th-24th June. The theme is Irish Journeys: Famine Legacies and Reconnecting Communities.
Strokestown Park House and the Irish National Famine Museum provide a hub for visitors and scholars to experience a uniquely preserved historic house and explore the lives of rich and poor in their original setting.
The 2018 Irish Famine Summer School will consider the Great Irish Famine and its legacies of dispersing communities between Ireland, Great Britain, North America, and Australia. Particular emphasis will be placed on the theme of Irish journeys at home and abroad, including the experiences of Irish emigrants and their descendants in building communities and becoming integrated into their host societies. The topics of homecoming, revisiting Ireland, and reconnecting communities between Irish and diasporic locations will also be central themes.
The annual Famine conference is an international, interdisciplinary event that brings together local, national and international Famine experts. We ask for papers that approach the subject ‘Irish Journeys’ from the broadest possible artistic, cultural, historical, and socio-economic perspectives. We welcome proposals for 20 minute papers and envisage dedicated panels on (but not limited to) the following themes:
Professor Christine Kinealy (Quinnipiac University)
Professor Mark McGowan (University of Toronto)
Professor Mike Cronin (Boston College)
Professor Ian Kuijt (University of Notre Dame)
Professor Maureen Murphy (Hofstra University)
Enquiries and proposals of no more than 250 words, accompanied by a brief biographical note on the author, should be sent to Dr Jason King: faminestudies@Irishheritagetrust.ie and/or Professor Christine Kinealy (Christine.Kinealy@quinnipiac.edu) by 1 February 2018. Decisions on proposals as decided by the organising committee will be communicated by the end of February.
Montreal Gazette (August 12, 2017)
What if thousands of people lay dying on Montreal’s waterfront?
What if some of the city’s best doctors, nurses, members of the clergy and the mayor were caring for the sick newcomers at the risk of their own lives?
What if the dead were being buried in hastily dug trenches next to the makeshift hospital, piled three coffins deep?
What if the death toll rose to the equivalent of 12 per cent of the city’s population?
You’d think a city couldn’t forget a thing like that.
The events of Black 47 are very real to Montreal-born, Dublin-based historian Jason King. On visits to his hometown, King, academic coordinator for the Irish Heritage Trust, which operates the Irish National Famine Museum, always makes a point of visiting the site in Pointe-St-Charles where as many as 6,000 people died of typhus in 1847.
You pass under a railway bridge, past a Costco store, derelict warehouses and empty parking lots bordered by concrete blocks. It’s easy to miss the monument to the typhus victims — a rough boulder in the median between traffic lanes on Bridge St., near the Victoria Bridge. On it are inscribed the words:
“To Preserve from Desecration the Remains of 6000 Immigrants Who died of Ship Fever A.D. 1847-48
This Stone is erected by the Workmen of Messrs. Peto, Brassey and Betts Employed in the Construction of the Victoria Bridge A.D. 1859.”
King contemplates the stone in silence, broken only by passing vehicles, the sighing wind and screeching of seagulls.
“You do feel a real sense of connectedness when you come to the actual place,” he says.
“Usually, when I come I’m by myself. There’s really nobody here. There’s passing traffic, but that kind of becomes white noise after a minute or two. The rock and the strange, empty parking lot. It’s a very moving site, a very strange site,” King says.
Dozens of cities, including Toronto, New York, Boston and Philadelphia, have sites commemorating the one million Irish who fled their homeland during the Great Famine of 1846-51 — of whom an estimated one in five died en route of disease and starvation.
Each year, some 20,000 tourists journey to Grosse-Île, the former quarantine station near Quebec City where more than 5,000 famine migrants died in 1847.
But Montreal, whose Black Rock is the world’s oldest famine memorial, has no appropriate place of remembrance — just this dangerous spot in the middle of a busy commuter route.
Yet it was in Montreal that the tragedy struck hardest, and that the community most heroically rose to the challenge of helping the sick and dying, King says.
“Montreal was in a sense the epicentre of the 1847 famine migration,” he says.
“It was the largest city in British North America. It was the only major city to have famine refugees in massive numbers come into the city itself.”
For the past five years, members of the local Irish community have been working to create a memorial park honouring those who fled the famine, only to die on Montreal’s waterfront.
Their plan calls for moving the Black Rock to the future park on the east side of Bridge St. at rue des Irlandais, an area now occupied by a parking lot and Lafarge cement site.
But in May, organizers of the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation learned the land earmarked for the park had been sold to Hydro-Québec, to build an electrical substation to supply the future Réseau électrique métropolitain (REM) train. Mayor Denis Coderre, who had initially pledged support for the park, now insists the substation must go ahead but has promised to find a compromise.
Coderre and other city officials refused to be interviewed for this article.
The city is also keeping mum on its plans for the rest of the area between Bridge St., the Bonaventure Expressway and Mill St. — formerly the working-class neighbourhood of Goose Village, which the city demolished in 1964. The Coderre administration is reportedly eyeing the site for a future baseball stadium, to bring back Major League Baseball to Montreal.
“The Goose Village sector is targeted in the Stratégie Centre-Ville (a downtown development plan) which will be unveiled in the near future,” is all city spokesperson Jules Chamberland would say in an email exchange.
The REM project calls for a light-rail station underneath the Lachine Canal’s Peel Basin, with a north entrance in Griffintown and a south entrance about a 10-minute walk from the Goose Village site.
But to King, any project that brushes aside the site’s tragic history would be a violation of the last resting place of the thousands who died.
“You can’t imagine this happening anywhere else, that you’d have a mass grave in complete abandonment,” he says.
Sylvain Gaudet, a researcher with the Société d’histoire de Pointe-Saint-Charles, has pored over newspapers, maps and property records to document the burial grounds where the typhus victims were laid to rest. Initially, the sick were housed in sheds near the Peel Basin; later, sheds were built for them on the Goose Village site. Archaeological research is needed to determine what traces remain of the thousands buried at the two sites, Gaudet said.
Anne-Marie Balac, an archaeologist who worked for Quebec’s Ministry of Culture for 27 years and is now a consultant, said “it’s unthinkable” to allow any project to be built without a thorough investigation of what lies under the ground.
“We know it has a very high archaeological potential because it’s a cemetery,” she said.
Several bodies have been unearthed over the years, including during roadwork and building of the Costco, leaving no doubt that the site is a former cemetery, Balac said.
In 1942, excavations near the entrance to the Victoria Bridge turned up the coffins of 12 typhus victims in a trench-like grave. They were reinterred near the Black Rock.
“It’s urgent to act before going too far,” Balac said.
* * *
In the spring of 1847, Montrealers braced for an influx from famine-stricken Ireland, where the potato crop had failed in both of the previous two years.
“We learn from British papers and private letters published in those of the United States, that the preparations for emigration from Britain, and especially from Ireland, are unprecedentedly great,” the Montreal Witness newspaper reported on March 8.
Fearing a deluge of undesirables, the United States tightened regulations for passenger ships, pushing up travel costs.
This meant the poorest immigrants would be forced to travel via Quebec City and Montreal, the Witness correctly predicted.
Soon “our shores are likely to be thronged with emigrants, chiefly of a class who will have little or nothing left when they arrive,” the paper warned, urging that “no time ought to be lost” in making preparations.
But nothing could have prepared Montrealers for what they saw when sick and starving immigrants began stepping off steamboats from Quebec City.
“Good God! What a spectacle. Hundreds of people, most of them lying naked on planks haphazardly, men, women and children, sick, moribund and cadavers; all of this confusion hit the eyes at once,” the Annals of the Sisters of Charity (Grey Nuns) reported on June 7.
The overcrowded “coffin ships” that brought the migrants to the New World — often Canadian timber vessels making the return trip with a human cargo — were the perfect breeding ground for typhus, spread by body lice infected with the Rickettsia prowazekii bacterium. (The cause would not be discovered until 1916.)
Numerous sources, including records kept by religious communities and newspaper reports, paint a vivid account of the famine migration to Montreal.
After going out to investigate, she returned to the Mother House to describe the horrific condition of the immigrants and ask for volunteers.
She did not need to do so more than once, since our dear Sisters came in large numbers.
(Annals of the Grey Nuns)
June 13: As thousands pour into the city, the typhus sheds near the Lachine Canal are quickly overwhelmed. Patients are crowded three to a bed, with corpses lying alongside the living. Bodies pile up outside, awaiting burial.
The Grey Nuns record heartrending scenes, like a man who arrives from Grosse-Île searching for his wife, who had been sent on to Montreal before him. He finally spots her corpse on a pile of bodies and takes it in his arms, calling her name and kissing her, unable to believe that she is really dead.
Once he is convinced that she no longer exists, he abandons himself to his pain; the air is filled with his cries and sobs. … Scenes of this nature occur several times a day.
(Annals of the Grey Nuns)
From Irish Times (25 May 2017):
One of Rowan Gillespie’s Famine statues in Dublin. Photograph: Kate Geraghty
The National Famine Walk will take place over six days from May 27th to June 1st as an international group of Famine scholars follow in the footsteps of the 1,490 tenants from Denis Mahon’s Strokestown Park House estate, who were escorted by a bailiff to Dublin to ensure they boarded ship and left Ireland in 1847.
(Shared here with kind permission of RTÉ News)
The tenants’ fate after they left Dublin is a harrowing one. They travelled on open deck packet steamers to Liverpool, where they waited in the cellars of quayside buildings at Liverpool docks to board ships to Canada. The four ships they boarded – Erin’s Queen, Naomi, The Virginius and The John Munn – were badly fitted out and poorly provisioned. Almost half of those who embarked died aboard ship or in the “fever sheds” at the Grosse Île quarantine station when they arrived in Quebec. Of course, this was not known to them as they walked along the Royal Canal to Dublin, away from hunger and hoping for a better life.
The National Famine Walk begins at one of the numerous points of origin for what has been an ongoing research initiative to document the passage of more than 100,000 tenants forcibly exiled to Canada in 1847. The transatlantic voyage and passage along the Saint Lawrence river from Quebec to Toronto resulted in the second greatest loss of life in the Victorian era, second only to the Crimean War. Of those who left, more than 20,000 perished at sea or along the Saint Lawrence River, marking Canada with the infamous distinction of having the largest Irish mass graves outside of Ireland.
The 1847 evictions, transfer and passage to Canada encapsulate a twice-told tale.
First, it’s a story of British government and Irish landlord neglect. Mahon evicted 3,006 tenants and paid just under £4,000 for the passage of almost 1,000 of those he assisted to emigrate. For his unfailing cruelty, on November 2nd, 1847, Mahon was shot to death as he travelled home to Strokestown House from a Board of Guardians meeting. Murder was not a deterrent for the landlords. Evictions continued until some 11,000 persons of the 12,000 tenants were removed from Mahon’s estate.
In exporting evicted tenants, passage to Canada proved the cheaper alternative to America, given that the American authorities, anticipating the influx of a starving flotsam of Irish, amended their maritime Passenger Acts. Imposing stricter regulations, the acts barred disease-ridden ships from arriving into American ports. In 1847, the most destitute Irish emigrants were sent to the British North American colonies in New Brunswick and Canada East and West (Quebec and Ontario) on retrofitted lumber vessels as human ballast. These coffin ships averaged over 300 persons per vessel, three times that allowed under the American Passenger Acts. Mortality rates approached 40 per cent.
The story of emigration to Canada is, secondly, a contrasting one of succour and sacrifice, as a predominantly Catholic, French Canadian province of Quebec braced for and ministered to a dispossessed, disease-ravaged people in one of the greatest unrecognised human refugee crises of the 19th century.
The immigrant numbers are extraordinary. Most of them arrived at Grosse Île in Quebec, which is now a National Historic Site with a glass wall memorial for the 5,000 Irish interred in mass graves on the island. Grosse Île is twinned with the Irish National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park House, where Taoiseach Enda Kenny unveiled a similar glass wall memorial to its missing 1,490 emigrants in 2014.
Many of those 1,490 emigrants died on Grosse Île. It was there that James Quinn, a 45-year-old Irish emigrant from Lissonuffy, on the Strokestown Park estate, whispered his dying words to his two young sons, Patrick (12) and Thomas (6): “Remember your soul and your liberty”.
The orphaned Quinn brothers were adopted by a French-Canadian family who gave them a good education. They both entered the seminary and became priests with joint French and Irish congregations. In 1877, Patrick Quinn founded the still flourishing St. Patrick Society in Richmond, Quebec, where there is a theatre named after him. His younger brother, Thomas Quinn, became a champion for his French-Canadian parishioners.
At the First Congress of the French Language in Quebec City, on June 25th, 1912, Thomas Quinn thanked the French-Canadian people for their generosity. In a speech entitled “Une Voix d’Irlande” (A Voice of Ireland), he declared in French:
“It was in 1847. A famine, even worse than the one which had preceded it, threatened the Irish people with total extinction. The most astonishing part of the awful spectacle was, not to see the people die, but to see them live through such great distress. Like walking skeletons they went, in tears, seeking hospitality from more favoured lands. Stirred with compassion, French-Canadian priests, braving the epidemic, contended for the glory of rushing to their relief. I still remember one of these admirable clergymen who led us to the bedside of my dying father. As he saw us, my father with his failing voice repeated the old Irish adage, ‘Remember your soul and your liberty’.”
Like the Quinn brothers, Daniel and Catherine Tighe also sailed to Grosse Île where they were orphaned, adopted by a French-Canadian family, and allowed to keep their Irish surname. In 2000, Jim Callery, founder of the Irish National Famine Museum, visited Daniel’s son Léo Tye in rural Quebec and heard the story that inspired the search for the missing 1,490 Strokestown emigrants. He also unveiled a Celtic Cross Famine memorial in Quebec City that he had donated on behalf of the Famine Museum. In July 2013, Léo’s son Richard Tye made a return visit from Quebec to Strokestown, and was reunited with the Irish branch of the family. His Irish cousin Philip Tighe will be on the National Famine Walk.
The suffering of Famine emigrants was not confined to Grosse Île. With the arrival of 75,000 typhus-afflicted refugees, the city of Montreal, then a city of 50,000, hastily erected fever sheds to contain disease. The Annals of the Grey Nuns, a recently translated cache of diaries, details the convergence of municipal and religious groups involved in saving Irish lives, often at great personal cost. Notable casualties included the Protestant mayor of Montreal and myriad priests and nuns who worked the fever sheds of Pointe Sainte Charles.
In the wake of the emigrant passing through Montreal, over 3,000 Irish orphan children left in the care of religious orders were eventually adopted, like the Quinn and Tighe siblings, into French-Canadian families.
The journey onward into Ontario has its own history. Less a story of commonality and religious succour, the death toll is lower, given how most afflicted died at Grosse Île and Montreal. Also, a subtle sectionalism led to journalistic self-censorship in accurately chronicling the passage and burial of those who died along riverside towns throughout Ontario.
Such was the forgotten history of Canadian involvement with the fated year of 1847, simply because the crisis and sacrifice had happened so far away, within a single season. For the most part, accounts of the worst suffering were recorded in French, so the episode closed in the forgotten reaches of Quebec. That is, until recently.
In 2016, Irish author and ultra-runner Michael Collins ran a marathon-a-day for a month from Grosse Île to Toronto; he was inspired by his reading of the Grey Nuns’ annals. En route, along the Saint Lawrence, he met historical societies researching their town’s archives and recorded anecdotal stories passed down by descendants, which he documented on his Irish Diaspora Run 2016 Facebook page. More than 100,000 people visited the page during the run, and he has reactivated it for the National Famine Walk.
The project continues. At Grosse Île quarantine station, a memorial serves as a cautionary reminder of what can befall a dispossessed people, and at the terminus of the route in Toronto, Ireland Park has become a place of pilgrimage, memorialising the passage of 1847. Situated along Toronto’s docklands, a series of Rowan Gillespie Famine sculptures reach back across the ocean to Gillespie’s Famine sculptures on Dublin’s Custom House Quay Docklands. Without descriptive plaques detailing the history of 1847, the sculptures simultaneously encompass and transcend Irish history, evoking the universality of the immigrant experience, both past and present. In the furtherance of peace, Ireland Park Foundation has reconfigured a national tragedy, not as a source of differentiation, but of shared experience. In 2017, the foundation will unveil Dr George Robert Grasett Park, celebrating the efforts of the Canadian medical profession which so tirelessly worked to save both those who arrived and Toronto’s own citizens from disease.
What remains yet to be memorialised is Montreal’s response to 1847. Specifically, The Black Rock memorial, a stone hastily erected by workmen who uncovered over 6,000 bodies during the 1859 construction of the Victoria Bridge, lies in the median of a major arterial in downtown Montreal and is in jeopardy of being summarily removed as the city plans a major overhaul of the area. The Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation is locked in a tenuous battle with city, provincial and federal authorities to preserve and allocate what is currently an abandoned parking lot as the future site of a memorial grounds honoring both the 1847 emigrants and those who came to their aid.
The National Famine Walk complements these projects to ensure that Famine emigrants like Strokestown’s missing 1,490 are commemorated on both sides of the Atlantic. In following in their footsteps, the walkers are not only honouring their legacy. They are embarking on a journey to trace the descendants of the 1,490 emigrants in Canada and the United States, especially from Irish Famine orphans adopted in Quebec. They are also laying the foundation for a permanent walking trail along the Royal Canal between Strokestown and Dublin, the National Famine Way. With its advent, hitherto inaccessible paths are providing opportunities to walk in the footsteps of the dispossessed.
Prof. Christine Kinealy (and founding director of the Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University) talks to ADAPT about the cultural impact of the great famine and how it influenced Ireland in years to come.
Author Cathal Poirteir tells about the particular character from the 1,490 who left Strokestown, one John O’Connor. His story is a tragic one as he died during the famine, but not from hunger!
The Famine walkers’ journey from May 27th to June 1st can be followed in real time at http://www.nationalfamineway.ie.
Having waked from Strokestown, Co Roscommon, Famine Way Walkers 2018 re-enact the final steps journey of 1490 migrant tenants from Strokestown as they made their way towards the replica famine ship, the Jeanie Johnston. This is a playlist of three short but separate videos.
The National Famine Way is being developed by Strokestown Park House, the Irish National Famine Museum, and the Irish Heritage Trust in partnership with Waterways Ireland, the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology, Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, Ireland Park Foundation, the University of Toronto, Royal Canal Amenity Group, Roscommon and Longford County Councils, and Strokestown Community Town Team.
Carricks, dans le sillage des Irlandais (in French, with English subtitles)
Le 17 mai 1847, le navire irlandais Carricks fait naufrage à Cap-des-Rosiers, à quelques centaines de mètres au large des plages gaspésiennes, avec à son bord 187 passagers irlandais et un violon signé Stradivarius.
La quête de Charles Kavanagh est aussi celle de bien d’autres descendants d’immigrants irlandais; à travers l’histoire du naufrage du bateau Carricks en 1847, il ne lève pas seulement le voile sur l’histoire de sa famille, mais aussi l’héritage des Irlandais au Québec.
On May 17, 1847, the Irish ship Carricks was wrecked at Cap-des-Rosiers, a few hundred meters off beach in Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, carrying 187 Irish passengers and a Stradivarius violin.
Charles Kavanagh’s quest is also that of many other descendants of Irish Famine immigrants to learn more about their origins. He seeks to trace the story of the sinking of the Carricks Famine ship from which his ancestors Patrick and Sarah Kaveney survived in May 1847, and unveils the history not only of his family, but also the legacy of the Irish in Quebec.
The film is directed by Viveka Melki and narrated by Charles Kavanagh, in collaboration with the archaeologist Martin Perron and the historians Simon Jolivet and Jo-Anick Proulx.
Margaret Grant MacWhirter, Treasure trove in Gaspé and the Baie des chaleurs (1919), p. 13.
Cap de Rosier has a tragic interest on account of the tales of marine disaster with which it is associated. The story is still told in Gaspe village of the good ship “Carricks” which sailed from Sligo, Ireland, in May, 1847.
And old lady, perhaps the sole survivor, remembered the occurrence when interviewed by the writer. She, a child of twelve years, was one of seven children, and like all the passengers, her family were emigrants. After a rough and uncomfortable passage of twenty-three days, the captain missed his reckoning in a blinding snow-storm, and in the darkness of the night, struck the cruel cape. One stroke of the angry wave swept her clean. Comparatively few were saved, after hours of cold, hunger and fear such as may be imagined. The inhabitants came to the rescue, and treated the pitiable survivors with kindness. Truly the beach presented a gruesome spectacle the following day, strewn for a mile and a half with dead bodies. For a whole day two ox-carts carried the dead to deep trenches near the scene of the disaster. In the autumn the heavy storms sweep within sound of the spot. Thus peacefully, with the requiem of the waves and winds they rest. In recent years a monument has been erected to their memory by the parishioners of St. Patrick’s Montreal. Alas! this is only one of the many sorrowful tales which are related of Cap de Rosier.
Petition for Reimbursement for Expenses in Caring for Carricks’ Survivors:
From Sligo Champion (April 22 2017)
Canadians walk in Famine ship ancestors’ footsteps
Canadian descendants of a family who fled Sligo during the Famine returned last weekend to retrace their last journey on Irish soil.
Rose Marie and Terry Stanley walked the Famine Trail from the Caves of Keash to Sligo Quay on Saturday to mark the 170th anniversary since their forefathers, Patrick and Sarah Kaveney and their six children left Cross on the 5th of April 1847.
They were joined by eight Canadian family members, their Ward cousins from Keash and the Keaveneys from Dublin. On their arrival at the Quay the group were honoured at a civic reception at City Hall hosted by Mayor of Sligo Municipal District Cllr Marie Casserly.
Rose Marie expressed her appreciation to the Mayor and spoke of the impact of the walk together with the unexpected gift of finding the family’s Sligo roots and connecting with cousins here in Ireland. She committed to returning in 2021 to walk the Famine Trail again.
While here Rose Marie will present a play called ‘EMIGRANT’ based of the epic journey of her ancestors, Patrick Kaveney and Sarah McDonagh. It will be presented in Cliffoney Hall on Thursday, 20th April at 8.30 pm, and in White Hall Keash on Saturday 22nd April again at 8.30pm. In Cliffoney Anne Hoey and Frank Kielty will assist the presentation.
Patrick and Sarah,their six children and 172 other emigrants from Lord Palmerston’s estates sailed on board the Carricks of Whitehaven to Quebec.
The ship ran into a late winter storm and was shipwrecked on 28th April 1847, in the Gulf of St Lawrence, just off the coast of Cap des Rosiers, Canada. Only 48 survived, including Patrick and Sarah together with their son Martin, but their five daughters perished.
Dr Jason King (Irish Heritage Trust) and Professor Christine Kinealy (Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute, Quinnipiac University), curators of the “Saving the Famine Irish” exhibition at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum.
EPIC will be hosting a temporary exhibition charting the experiences Irish Famine refugees in Canada. “Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger” tells the story of the religious orders in Montreal whose members gave selflessly to Irish immigrants during the summer of 1847 – their time of greatest need. The exhibition runs in Unit 5-6 of CHQ from 30/03/2017 until 22/04/2017.
From left: Caroilin Callery (Irish National Famine Museum), Christine Kinealy (Quinnipiac University), Jason King (Irish Heritage Trust), Fiona Ross (Epic), Robert Kearns (Ireland Park Foundation).
Many thousands of people fled from Ireland during the Great Hunger and immigrated to Canada. Famine immigrants to Montreal were not only among the poorest of the poor, but many of them arrived already sick with typhus fever. Despite this, a number of people in the English and French Canadian communities provided the ailing and the dying with shelter and support. In the forefront of this compassionate movement were the Sisters of Charity, also known as the Grey Nuns. The exhibition is co-presented by EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum and Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University. It is currently on display to mark the 170th anniversary of ‘Black 47’, the high point of the Great Irish Famine.
Jason King, Christine Kinealy, Michael Blanch, Fiona Ross.
Even considering recent advances in the development of women’s studies as a discipline, women remain underrepresented in the history and historiography of the Great Hunger. The various roles played by women, including as landowners, relief-givers, philanthropists, proselytizers and providers for the family, have received little attention.
This publication examines the diverse and still largely unexplored role of women during the Great Hunger, shedding light on how women experienced and shaped the tragedy that unfolded in Ireland between 1845 and 1852. In addition to more traditional sources, the contributors also draw on folklore and popular culture.
Women and the Great Hunger brings together the work of some of the leading researchers in Irish studies, with new scholarship, methodologies and perspectives. This book takes a major step toward advancing our understanding of the Great Hunger.
Christine Kinealy is Director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University. Jason King is Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Research Fellow, National University of Ireland, Galway and Ciarn Reilly is a Research Fellow, Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses & Estates, Maynooth University
Introduction. ‘This expertise is hard won’. Women and the Great Hunger in Ireland
‘Never call me a novelist’: Cecil Woodham-Smith and the making of the Great Hunger – Christine Kinealy (Quinnipiac University)
Asenath Nicholson and school children in Ireland – Maureen Murphy (Quinnipiac University)
Agency and Action
‘Nearly starved to death’: The female petition during the Great Hunger – Ciaran Reilly (Maynooth University)
The women of county Leitrim respond to the hunger – Gerard McAtasney (Independent Scholar)
‘Meddlers amongst us: women, priests, and authority in Famine-era Ireland’ – Cara Delay (College of Charleston)
‘Nearly naked’: clothing and the Great Hunger in Ireland – Daphne Wolf (Drew University)
The Famine Irish, the Grey Nuns, and the fever sheds of Montreal: prostitution and female religious institution building – Jason King (National University of Ireland, Galway)
‘Permanent deadweight’: female pauper emigration from Mountbellew Workhouse to Canada – Gerard Moran (Maynooth University)
The Lore of women: Irish expressive culture in New England after the Great Hunger – Eileen Moore Quinn (College of Charleston)
Keeping hope alive: Jane Elgee and the Great Famine Matthew Skwiat – (Rochester University)
‘Skeletons at the feast’: Lady Wilde’s poetry and 19th century Irish critiques of famine and empire – Amy Martin (Mount Holyoke College)
‘Revolting scenes of famine’: Frances Power Cobbe and the Great Hunger – Maureen O’Connor (University College Cork)
Nature and nurture: The Great Famine and epigenetic change in Ireland – Oonagh Walsh (Glasgow Caledonian University)
Amongst strangers: The Sisters of Charity and the New York Famine Irish -Turlough McConnell (Turlough McConnell Communications)
Lady Sligo and her letters: mounting an inaugural exhibition – Sandy Letourneau O’Hare and Robert A. Young, Jr. (Arnold Bernhard Library, Quinnipiac University)
The Earl Grey Irish orphan scheme, 1848 -1850 and the Irish diaspora in Australia – Rebecca Abbott (Quinnipiac University)
Postscript and A woman’s place is on the curriculum – Ruth Riddick (Open Door Counselling)
Call for Papers: Children and the Great Hunger in Ireland
Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, in partnership with the Irish Heritage Trust at StrokestownPark, is hosting an international conference,
“Children and the Great Hunger in Ireland.” In any sustained period of food hunger and famine, children are one of the most vulnerable groups in terms of disease and mortality. The Great Hunger that occurred in Ireland between 1845 and 1852 is no exception. This conference will explore the impact of famine on children and young adults. While the focus will be on Ireland’s Great Hunger, a comparative approach is encouraged. It is anticipated that a selection of papers will be published.
Papers are welcomed from all disciplines and from both established scholars and new researchers. Abstracts of 250-300 words for 20-minute papers or proposals for roundtable sessions on specific themes, together with 100-word biographical statements, should be directed to:
Professor Christine Kinealy: firstname.lastname@example.org And Dr Jason King: email@example.com
Deadline for receipt of abstracts 31 January 2017
Ambassador Kevin Vickers, Prof Christine Kinealy, Dr Jason King
Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Kevin Vickers welcomed the “Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger” exhibit for a special reception at the Canadian Embassy in Dublin on January 9th. He declared that:
“It gives me great pleasure to announce that the “Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger” exhibit, curated by Dr. Jason King and Professor Christine Kinealy of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, has come to Dublin. This year marks the 170th anniversary of the Irish Famine migration and the 150th anniversary of the founding of Canada. It is only fitting that we pay tribute to these Canadian caregivers of the Famine Irish who express our values and the enduring ties between our two countries.”
The exhibit was previously on display at the Glasnevin Museum in Dublin:
The exhibit is also open at the Grey Nuns Maison de Mère d’Youville in Montreal
(138 rue Saint-Pierre).
For more information about the exhibit, see:
To access eyewitness accounts of the Irish Famine migration to Canada in 1847 and 1848, visit the Digital Irish Famine Archive: