Tuesday 11 February 2014

Book reprint: The Famine in Ulster

‘The Famine didn’t happen in Ulster’ has been one of the most unchallenged myths in recent Irish history.

This volume corrects that distortion by giving an account of how each of the nine northern counties fared during ‘this great calamity’. Ulster was indeed spared what a local newspaper called ‘the horrors of Skibbereen’. Nonetheless, the severity of the famine for much of the population, particularly in the winter of 1846-7, is all too apparent in each of the counties. Ninety-five inmates of Lurgan workhouse died in one week in February 1847; 351 people queued to get into Enniskillen workhouse in one day, emigration continued at an increasing pace and fever hospitals were full.

What was done to limit the tragedy? Contentious issues such as the effectiveness of government relief measures, the response of local landlords, absentee and otherwise, to the distress of their tenants, and the role of the churches as the crisis unfolded are all assessed.

This thorough account of the famine in Ulster was the first to refute that oft-quoted claim … ‘sure it didn’t happen here’. First published in 1997 under the title 'The Famine in Ulster: the regional impact', the book has been reprinted (it is not a new edition) with a dramatic new cover design and alterations to the title pages.

It's available from this month, the book can be ordered from BooksIreland at a price of £8.99.