Strokestown and the Great Irish Famine

By Ciaran Reilly

The Strokestown Park Archive is one of the largest estate collections in existence in Ireland, with more than 50,000 documents comprising rentals, leases, accounts, correspondence maps, drawings, architectural plans, and photographs. Of particular importance are the papers that relate to the Great Irish Famine. This book introduces the reader to the archive and provides an microscopic insight into the many and varied experiences of Famine for those who inhabited the estate in the 1840s. Documents from the archive, many of which have not seen the light of day since they were generated almost 170 years ago, illuminate the text and provide the reader with a unique insight into Famine Ireland. Although the 1990s (and later) witnessed an outpouring of scholarly work on the Great Famine to commemorate the sesquicentenary, only a handful of studies examined the impact of Famine on individual landed estates. In the social memory of the Great Famine at Strokestown, the assisted emigration of 1,490 people to Canada, the murder of Major Denis Mahon in 1847, and the subsequent clearance of as many as 3,000 tenants from the estate between 1848 to 1851 predominates. While, it is certainly true that the emigration schemes and the clearances caused considerable unrest, which contributed to the murder of Denis Mahon, social memory, if left untested, can hide many other complexities of the Famine. The existence of the Strokestown Famine archive highlights that there are still major questions to be answered in relation to the greatest social calamity in modern Irish history. For example: How widespread and effective were local efforts to alleviate the plight of the impoverished? How did the local community react to the clearance of thousands of people? Who benefited from these clearances? How did those who emigrated fare in their receiving communities? This book offers answers to some of these crucial questions. *** "The value of any historical account arises not only from its veracity, detail and clear delivery, but also from its engaging presentation; this book delivers it all! Ciar?n Reilly provides astounding insights into the lives of landless laborers and their families just before and during the horrific Great Famine. Of particular note is the volume of old photos, illustrations, documents and drawings that grace many pages." - The Celtic Connection, June 2015 [Subject: History, Irish Studies]

Publication Date: 11/14/2014
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781846825545

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