The Great Famine

Scene from the Great Famine Deserted famine village Connemara during the famine Famine memorial in Dublin
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Table of Contents

Overviews of the Famine
Famine Emigration
Contemporary Reports of the Famine
Blight and Fever
Relief Programmes
Local Effects of the Famine
Economics, Agriculture and Land-holding
Other Famine Resources
The Genocide Question

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Overviews of the Famine

Famine Cork University
Ireland's Great Famine wesleyjohnston
The Great Irish Famine Great Irish Famine
Irish Potato Famine Wikipedia
Irish Famine Timeline Irish Historian
An Gorta Mór Wisconsin University
An Gorta Mór Quinnipiac University
The Irish Famine
The Irish Famine ireland-information
The Blight Begins The History Place
Irish Potato Famine The History Place
The Great Famine in Ireland 1845 - 1849 ego4u
The Famine after 1847 wesleyjohnston
The Famine Your Irish Roots
The Famine Years II: 1846 - 1848 (on-line book) Desmond Keenan's Revisionist History
Irish Famine 1845-9 History Home
The Great Famine of 1845- 1849 Wild Geese Heritage Museum and Library
Ireland and the Potato Famine
The Irish Famine 1845 - 1849 The Victorian Web
The Irish Famine BBC
The Irish Famine for Children BBC
Ireland and the Famine (for children) The Baldwin Project
Review of Christine Kinealy's book on the famine Institute of Historical Research
The Great Irish Famine Authentic Ireland
History Corner: The Great Irish Famine Wolfe Tones
The History of the Great Irish Famine of 1847 (1902) by John O'Rourke (on-line book) Gutenberg
The Great Irish Famine: Turning Point for Ireland and America
Irish Famine Virginia University
Irish Famine The Encyclopedia of Earth
British Policies during the Great Famine Mount Holyoke College
The Irish Potato Famine Digital History
The Irish Potato Famine Conservapedia

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Famine Emigration
Irish Famine Memorial: Australia Irish Famine Memorial
Immigrant Ship Passenger Lists ~KHuish at tripod
Coffin ships The History Place
Irish Potato Famine - Gone to America The History Place
Receiving Erin's Children University of North Carolina Press
Robert Whyte's The Journey of an Irish Coffin Ship (extract) Virginia University
Bostonians Respond to the Irish Famine
Grosse Isle, Quebec Wikipedia
The Grosse Isle Tragedy Irish History Links
How Emigration Changed Ireland
Famine and Emigration rootsweb
Emigration BBC
Boston Irish Famine Memorial
Irish Famine Memorial Buffalo Irish Famine Memorial
The Assimiliation of Irish Famine Immigrants in the United States Humboldt State University
Emigration from Ireland Cobh Heritage
Rhode Island Famine Memorial Rhode Ireland Irish Famine Memorial
Irish to America: the Famine Immigrants German Roots
Irish Famine Memorial Sydney Australia Irish Famine Memorial
Emigration to North America in 1847 The Ships List
Irish Immigration (general history) Spartacus Schoolnet
Famine Emigration Irish Times

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Contemporary Reports on the Famine
Contemporary Views of the Famine
Visual Representation: Irish Famine 1845 - 1849 Queen's University Belfast
A Critical Examination of a Selection of Travel Writing Produced During the Great Famine Cork University
The Irish famine as represented in 19th century literature enotes
James Mahoney's Account, 1847 Eyewitness To History
Thomas Carlyle's 'Reminiscences of my Irish Journey in 1849' (on-line book) Irish History Links
A Medical Survey of the Irish Famine of 1846 Pub med central
The British view: Punch cartoons Irish Historian

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Blight and Disease
Return of the Potato Blight whyfiles
Potato Blight wesleyjohnston
Researcher Identifies Irish Famine Pathogen ScienceDaily
Relapsing Fever Online Encyclopedia
Fever During the Famine BBC
Potato famine blight DNA decoded BBC
Monoculture and the Irish Potato Famine: cases of missing genetic variation Berkerley University

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Relief Programmes
Private Responses to Famine Cork University
American Donations Cork University
Outdoor Relief Clare Library
Central Relief Committee University of Cork
Peel's Relief Programme to July 1846 wesleyjohnston
Workhouses and Poor Law Unions and Bantry Workhouse, County Cork ~turner
Workhouses in Ireland ~rootsweb
Poor Law Unions in Ireland Wisconsin University
The Board of Works
Mortality in the North Dublin Union During the Great Famine
Carrick-on-Shannon Workhouse and the Famine ~gartlan at
The Famine Soup Kitchens

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Local Effects of the Famine
Famine in Kerry
Famine in Kilkenny
The Great Famine in County Mayo
The Famine in Mayo
The Great Hunger Memorial in Clare Tour Clare
The Famine in Skibbereen BBC
Sligo Famine Memorial Irish History Links
Famine in Kilrush (e-book) Amazon

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Economics,Agriculture and Land-holding
Irish Potato Famine and Trade
Pre-Famine economics and Poverty wesleyjohnston
Ireland: society and economy, 1815 - 1870 Cork University
Pre-Famine agriculture wesleyjohnston
The Potato wesleyjohnston
Irish Grain Trade 1839 - 1848 Wisconsin University
Speech on the second reading of the bill for the repeal of the Corn Laws Victorian Web

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Other Famine Resources
Irish Famine Links Cork University
Books on the Irish Famine Read Ireland
Learning the Wrong Lessons: Governments, Hunger and the Irish Famine by Gareth G Davies ~gdavis2
The Anglo-Irish Question: 1845 - 1900 BBC
Legacy of the Irish Famine Wikipedia
Return of the blight in 1846 BBC
The Winter of 1946-47 wesleyjohnston
The Summer of Black '47 wesleyjohnston
1846 - 1847 The Guardian
Black '47 - When Ireland Starved irelandforvisitors
Transportation Convictions During the Great Irish Famine mitpressjournals
Charles Edward Trevelyan Cork University
Sir Robert Peel BBC
Lord John Russell The Victorian Web
John Russell Spartacus Schoolnet
Population statistics wesleyjohnston
Famine and Emigration hit Ireland: 1817 Web of English History
Population decline during the famine rootsweb
Petition to have the 'hunger martyrs' recognised by the Vatican Irish Hunger Martyrs
Irish Potato Famine and Trade (History) American University
'The Famine Road' poem Poem Hunter
The History of the Great Famine of 1847 (1902, by John O'Rourke) Gutenburg
Irish Potato Famine (1845 - 1849) New World Encyclopedia
Irish Famine Memorial Day Little Shamrocks

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The Genocide Question
Against the genocide argument
For the genocide argument
Ambiguous arguments

1) The Famine Was Not Genocide

The famine was an example of misguided economic policy combined with indifference.

Why 1,000,000 died

'It is an example of a terrible tragedy, but one that is inevitable only when the profit motive comes before people.'

The Struggle Site

Was The Irish Famine Genocide?

'The crucial question in whether or not it is genocide comes down to intent. Did the English government intend to destroy the Irish people? The answer is no. They were heartlessly negligent, but neglect is not the same as murder. There was never any plan to wipe out the Irish nor any actions that could be viewed as such. The government didnít directly kill anyone nor did they deliberatively destroy any food. In fact the relief aid, pathetic as it was, does damage the genocide argument. After all, why would the government set up soup kitchens if it wanted the Irish to die?'

The Irish Catholic

Was the Great Famine a genocide perpetrated by the British?

'The Famine originated in a natural disaster, the repeated failure of the potato crop beginning in 1845, but the human devastation was hugely exacerbated by a remote, inappropriate and inflexible government approach driven by a parsimonious Treasury fearful of moral hazard and permanent dependency. It was justified by a virulent free market ideology called political economy underpinned by a religious-tinged providentialism. While there was much callous comment and indifference, and a conviction that Irelandís alleged over-population needed to be reduced (by emigration), there is no evidence, such as is amply available elsewhere, of a deliberate intent to exterminate.'

Whistling in the Wind

Irish Potato Famine

'That the Famine "amounted to genocide" by the British against the Irish is a divisive issue and largely representative of the difference in perspective and attitudes among the Irish-Americans from Irish nationals. Few Irish historians accept outright such a definition, as "genocide" implies a deliberate policy of extermination. '

The link to Ireland Information Guide has been removed as it is no longer available.

Irish FAQ: The Famine

'Those who look for a simple answer usually settle on one of two targets: the British government of the time or the Irish themselves. The government is accused of genocide and even of instigating an "Irish holocaust". The Irish are accused of marrying too early and having too many children, making a Malthusian catastrophe inevitable.'


An Act of Providence

'Recent historians of the famine, while not neglecting the baleful role of the doctrine of laissez-faire, have been inclined to stress the potent parts played by two other ideologies of the time: those of 'providentialism' and 'moralism'... a widespread belief... that the famine was a divine judgment.'


Who Murdered the Irish?

'The men in Whitehall... were gripped by the most horrible, and perhaps the most universal, of human maladies: the belief that principles and doctrines are more important than lives.'

The link to (quoting from A.J.P. Taylor) has been removed as it is no longer available.

The Irish Famine in History

'[The famine] can not be explained away by utilizing the concepts of hate, genocide, evil, or persecution to mask and obscure its complex and ancient cultural architecture.'

Link to cbladey at removed as no longer available

The Hunger

'[Trevelyan] set about introducing this free market lunacy into the situation in Ireland... He said "..[relief efforts] should be stopped now or you run the risk of paralysing all private enterprise and having this country on you for an indefinite number of years".'

Socialist Review

The Great Irish Famine and the Holocaust

'In the case of the Great Famine no reputable historian believes that the British state intended the destruction of the Irish people, and the Famine-Holocaust comparisons provide no support either. Yet one million died. Does intentionality matter?... It does matter, for at least three reasons. First, it directly determines the scale of the tragedy.[...] Second, the cruelty, often wanton cruelty which attached to the treatment of Jews has virtually no parallels in the Irish case.[...] Third, intentionality is relevant to the question of responsibility, a question inextricably bound up with the politics of memory.'

Queen's University Belfast

It's time to get over the fact that the Great Famine was not genocide

'In support of his thesis, Coogan had quoted from the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide, where the term is defined as killing, causing serious bodily or mental harm, and so on "in whole or in part, to a national, ethnical, racial or religious group". Kennedy pointed out that he had omitted the qualification that to be genocide, it had to be intentional. So here's the simple truth. The British government handled the catastrophe incompetently, and for doctrinaire but not ill-intentioned reasons changed policy to non-interference after two years, but there was no deliberate cruelty and no intention to kill anyone.'

Ruth Dudley Edwards in the Irish Independent

Was the Famine Genocide?

'No. "Genocide" is defined in the Shorter Oxford as " the (attempted) deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic or national group".British policy was anything but deliberate and systematic. The government did not prevent extra food from being imported (indeed the repeal of the Corn Laws had the opposite effect). The government did not force exports to continue: Irish farmers chose to export their produce.'

The potato in Ireland and the 'Great Hunger'

'There are those amongst the Irish who consider the Great Hunger to have been an act of genocide...But the spuds were the problem. There they were, the one good crop, rotted in the ground across the whole island.'

Link to Steve Roy Edwards removed as no longer available

The Economist and the Famine

'Although...Wilson was horrified by death and suffering caused by the Irish famine of 1845-49, his principles required him to advocate non-interference. 'The Economist has suggested no plan", wrote... Lord Clarendon... "You in fact say do nothing, which is exceedingly comfortable for a gentleman writing by his fireside in London".'

Link to Swansea University removed as no longer available.

Blair blames Britain for famine deaths

'"Those who governed in London at the time failed their people through standing by while a crop failure turned into a massive human tragedy" [Tony Blair]...  Historians agree that the British government could not be held solely responsible for the tragedy.'

Link to Swansea University removed as no longer available.

Economical with the Irish

'...natural wealth creation require[d] that Irish paupers be left alone to naturally die in agony. The Economist's official historian celebrates the fact. It was not an accident or a misunderstanding. It was absolutely central to a world-view that has carried on right to this day. '

Link to Athol Books removed as no longer available

2) The Famine Was Deliberate Genocide

The famine was a calculated campaign of genocide.

Proving the Irish Famine was genocide by the British

'Back in Famine time, the same potato crop disease occurred most heavily in Scotland, outside Ireland, yet there were relatively few casualties[...] That was not the case in Ireland, where a very different mentality prevailed. The damned Irish were going to get what they deserved because of their attachment to Catholicism and Irish ways when they were refusing to toe the British line. As Coogan painstakingly recounts, every possible effort by local organizations to feed the starving were thwarted and frustrated by a British government intent on teaching the Irish a lesson and forcing market forces on them.'

Irish Central

How British Free Trade Starved Millions During the Irish Potato Famine

'British "free trade" policy--the same policy Thatcher and her imitators still fanatically insist upon--caused the genocide of 2 million out of 8 million Irish subjects in four years.'

The Schiller Institute

Irish Holocaust Denial and the Campaign Against Sinn Fein/IRA

'Irish Holocaust denial, or genocide denial, which refers to itself as revisionism, has evolved over three decades of propagandising as an important "cutting edge" ideological weapon in the ideological war against the IRA after 1969.'

Indymedia Ireland

History of the Great Hunger

'Relief efforts... were stymied by the British government at every level least the devastation should fall short of the desired expectations -- the more Irish peasantry [i.e., Catholics] dead the better. British landowners would rather see cattle and sheep on the land than Irish people.'

Fenians NKY

The mass graves of Ireland

'Is Britain's cover-up of its 1845-1850 holocaust in Ireland the most successful Big Lie in all of history?'

Irish Holocaust

The Irish Famine, or Passive Genocide

'In our time, an enforced famine such as this would be labeled genocide yet in the 1800s it was merely an unfortunate tragedy.[...]  The British policy of mass starvation inflicted on Ireland from 1845 to 1850 constituted "genocide" against the Irish People as legally defined by the United Nations. A quote by John Mitchell (who published The United Irishman) states that "The Almighty indeed sent the potato blight, but the English created the Famine."'

Text retrieved by Irish History Links

'Rome was responsible'

'Rome engineered a Holocaust in Ireland and then proceeded to blame the British Protestants.'

History Corner: The Great Irish Famine

'Never in the history of mankind was there a government who acted so cruelly to its people... [It] manipulated the facts to cover up the real truth of what was happening in Ireland the mass murder of its people and the destruction of Ireland.'

Wolfe Tone Society

Irish 'Famines' - Acts of God, Colonial Mismanagement or Genocide?

'Was this catastrophe merely because of a potato blight? Are we seriously being asked to believe that, in a country producing wheat, corn, dairy produce, with great herds of cattle, pigs, goats and poultry - enough food to feed three times its 1841 population - that a blight affecting only the potato crop could eliminate 25 per cent of the population in the space of three years?[...] "The Great Hunger" was no isolated incidence but part of a continuing theme through the 18th and 19th Centuries. [...] There can be no argument that genocide, the eradication of the Irish nation, was the official policy of the English conquests from the end of the 16th and through the 17th Century.'

Irish Democrat

The Irish Famine was Genocide

'From 1845-50, The British government pursued a policy of mass starvation in Ireland with the intent to destroy in substantial part the national, ethnical and racial group known as the Irish People. This British policy caused serious bodily and mental harm to the Irish People within the meaning of Genocide Convention Article II(b). This British policy also deliberately inflicted on the Irish People conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction within the meaning of Article II(c) of the Convention. Therefore, from 1845-50 the British government knowingly pursued a policy of mass starvation in Ireland which constituted acts of Genocide against the Irish People within the meaning of Article II(b) and (c) of the 1948 Genocide Convention.'

Global Research

Britainís Secret History: The Irish Holocaust

'According to the definitions of the Geneva Convention, what happened in Ireland between 1845-50 was Genocide. During those 'potato famine years' Ė food was systematically removed from the shores of Ireland, a policy conducted in full awareness that it was starving the population.'

Your News Wire

Irish Holocaust - Push to Educate the Facts (Facebook group)

'Where there is plenty of food, there can be no famine at all.'


US 'clarifies' Irish History

'Children in schools across America look set to be taught that the Irish potato famine last century was an act of genocide by the British government, comparable to the Holocaust.'

Link to Swansea University removed as no longer available.

The Lie of the Potato Famine

'The widely-accepted English account of the Starvation must now, at long last, give way to truth...  As Hibernian Brothers, it is our duty to correct the historical record by... teaching the truth of this, one of the most shameful episodes of Western civilization.'

Link to pioneernet/connolly removed as no longer available


'It is difficult to refute the indictment made by one humanitarian English observer in the later stages of the Famine, that amidst "an abundance of cheap food...very many have been done to death by pure tyranny".'

Link to Nebraska Dept. of Education removed as no longer available. A copy can be seen here.

The Irish Holocaust

'It amazes me that there are people today who would have you believe that the potato blight and the ensuing carnage was a "natural" disaster.'

Link to Nancy Monaghan removed as no longer available.

3) Ambiguous Arguments

No definite conclusion on the genocide charge.

The Great Hunger

'... Charles Trevelyan, a civil servant with responsibility for Irish famine relief, believed the famine was divine retribution. The overpopulation of Ireland, he wrote, being altogether beyond the power of man, the cure had been applied by the direct stroke of an all-wise Providence in a manner as unexpected and as unthought of as it is likely to be effectual.'

hartford-hwp,taken from An Phoblacht

Was the Famine genocide by the British?

'Tony Blair deserves great credit for having the political courage in his first month as British prime minister to apologise for the Famine and to publicly acknowledge that "those who governed in London at the time failed their people".'

Irish Independent

What Caused the Irish Potato Famine?

'Ireland was swept away by the economic forces that emanated from the most powerful and aggressive state the world had ever known. It suffered not from a fungus... but from conquest, theft, bondage, protectionism, government welfare, public works, and inflation.'

Ludwig von Mises Institute

Suggestions of genocide

'Debate and discussion on the British government's response to the failure of the potato crop in Ireland and the subsequent large-scale starvation, and whether or not this constituted what would now be called genocide, remains a historically and politically-charged issue.'

Wikipedia (famine page)

Great Irish famine

'Clearly, during [the famine] the British government pursued a policy of mass starvation in Ireland with intent to destroy in substantial part the national, ethnical, and racial group commonly known as the Irish People.. [A counter-argument runs that] genocide includes murderous intent and it must be said that not even the most bigoted and racist commentators of the day sought the extermination of the Irish.'

Wikipedia (genocide page)

Irish Famine education and the Holocaust 'straw man'

'I concluded that analogy [with the Holocaust] was a propaganda device called the "straw man". Rather than answer to credible evidence of genocidal acts during the mass starvation, the British would argue that the "Famine" was not a genocide because it was not Holocaust.'

Link to American Chronicle removed as no longer available

Lessons of History: the Great Irish Famine

'In one sense the British were to blame for the disaster. The blame however lies not with Lord John Russell and his colleagues in 1846, but much earlier, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.'

Link to The Freeman removed as no longer available.

Hunger for Justice

'The British were certainly not responsible for the fungus that killed the potato crop. But Great Britain, the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world at that time, did allow 1.5 million Irish men, women and children to die of starvation in a country they controlled, while substantial food supplies were shipped out of Ireland to England.'

Link to Swansea University removed as no longer available.

The Irish Famine: Interpretive and Historiographical Issues

'...more recent "post-revisionist" scholarship has again lent support to the charge against the British, if not of deliberate genocide, then at the very least of culpable neglect: that the famine was due to centuries of deliberate civil and economic repression of the Irish, designed to strip the population of land and power in their own country.'

Link to University of Maryland no longer available. This article can be found quoted here.

The Significance of the 'Great Hunger' on the development of Ireland

'Irish international aid agencies have stressed the historic parallels between 1840s Ireland and the developing world. They are also committed to internationalising the Great Hunger and confronting ideologies that make such disasters possible.'

Link to AOH Rhode Ireland removed as no longer available

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