The History of the Great Irish Famine of 1847 (3rd ed.) (1902) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 704 pages of information about The History of the Great Irish Famine of 1847 (3rd ed.) (1902).

Other verdicts of the same tendency, although not so decided in tone as this one, were recorded in different parts of the country.  At Lismore an inquest was held on a man, also named Sullivan, and the jury found that his death was caused by the neglect of the Government in not sending food into the country in due time.  In this town fourteen horses died of starvation in one week.

Whilst Bantry was in the condition described above, Dr. Stephens was sent by the Board of Health to examine the Workhouse there.  He found it simply dreadful.  Here is an extract from his report, which duty compels me, however unwillingly, to quote:  “Language,” he says, “would fail to give an adequate idea of the state of the fever hospital. Such an appalling, awful, and heart-sickening condition as it presented I never witnessed, or could think possible to exist in a civilized or Christian community.  As I entered the house, the stench that proceeded from it was most dreadful and noisome; but, oh! what scenes presented themselves to my view as I proceeded through the wards and passages:  patients lying on straw, naked, and in their excrements, a light covering over them—­in two beds living beings beside the dead, in the same bed with them, and dead since the night before.”  There was no medicine—­no drink—­no fire.  The wretched creatures, dying from thirst, were constantly crying “Water, water,” but there was no Christian hand to give them even a cup of cold water for the love of God.

Towards the end of April, the Rev. Mr. Barry estimated the deaths from famine, in Bantry alone, at four thousand.

Some time ago, speaking with a gentleman, a distinguished public man, about the hinged coffin, he said:  “At the time of the Famine I was a boy, residing not far from Bantry.  I have seen one of those hinged coffins, which had borne more than three hundred corpses to the grave.  I have seen men go along the roads with it, to collect dead bodies as they met them.”

Good God! picking up human forms, made to Thy image and likeness, and lately the tenements of immortal souls, as fishermen may sometimes be seen on the seashore, gathering the debris of a wreck after a storm!

With such specimens of the Irish Famine before us, we cannot but feel the justice, as well as the eloquence, of the following passage:  “I do not think it possible,” writes Mr. A. Shafto Adair, “for an English reader, however powerful his imagination, to conceive the state of Ireland during the past winter, or its present condition.  Famines and plagues will suggest themselves, with their ghastly and repulsive incidents—­the dead mother—­the dying infant—­the feast of cannibals—­Athens—­Jerusalem—­Marseilles.  But these awful facts stand forth as dark spots in the illuminated chronicles of time; episodes, it may be, of some magnificent epoch in a nation’s history—­tragedies acted in remote times, or in distant regions—­the actors, the inhabitants of beleaguered cities, or the citizens of a narrow territory.  But here the tragedy is enacted with no narrower limits than the boundaries of a kingdom, the victims—­an entire people,—­within our own days, at our own thresholds."[245]

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The History of the Great Irish Famine of 1847 (3rd ed.) (1902) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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