Gospel Truth? or Messages distorted by the fiery furnace- or Folk accounts blurred by the fog of battle and the transmission process?
Was all experience universal? Is it fair to read only from one "Gospel"?
-In any case, one form of history which like all histories must be used with care.
Read the voices of all-for they were all there observing and writing -passing us their best human efforts at observation-lots of eyes and lenses and vantage points.Read through them so as to build a landscape rather than an opinion.
"The "land of song" was no longer tuneful; or,
if a human sound met the traveller's ear, it was only that of the feeble
and despairing wail for the dead. This awful, unwonted silence, which,
during the famine and subsequent years, almost everywhere prevailed, struck
more fearfully upon their imaginations, as many Irish gentlemen informed
me, and gave them a deeper feeling of the desolation with which the country
had been visited, than any other circumstance which had forced itself upon
their attention"-George Petrie, The Ancient Music of Ireland (1855)
"The rough and honest independence of the English cottager speaks the freedom he has so long enjoyed, and when really injured his appeal to the laws for redress and protection marks their impartial and just administration: the witty servillity of the Irish peasantry, mingled with occasional bursts of desperation and revenge--the devoted yet visionary patriotism--the romantic sense of honour, and improvident yet unalterable attachments, are evidence of a conquest without system, an irregular government, and the remains of feudal clanship, the barbarous and arbitrary organisation of a warlike people-Crofton Croker,Researches in the South of Ireland.1824
"At Brandon we beheld a melancholy scene-several carts returning to thir homes in the country, which they had quitted in the morning with money to procure food, but compelled to go back without it. Woman and children accompanied them with loud cries, literally "keening", as if they were following a corpse to its place of rest"-Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall, Ireland: Its scenery, Character, and history, Vol 1, 1841.
"For the poverty and
distress and misery which
exist, the people have
themselves to blame"--
T.C. Foster, "The Times"
March 15, 1846.
County Donegal by Thomas Campbell Foster,
"I know right well that I write on tender ground, and that I lay myself
open to the charge of 'national prejudice' if I write a syllable
in favour of the population of the north-east of Ireland. But I do not
come to bandy compliments, but to ascertain facts and to state them. It
is the nature of the men on the east coast of Ireland, by
"The companies, by managing the greater part of the country around by
intelligent agents--along with the gentry, who are mostly here resident,
and vie with them--have completely changed the aspect of everything, as
compared with more western districts. Good farm houses, large squared
fields, good fences, and abundant crops, exhibit ample evidence of the
benefits derivable from the
"I had the opportunity, on Thursday, of passing through a large district
of country, the greater part of which is the property of the Grocers' Company.
About seven miles from this town that company has erected a well-built
village called Muff.
"...How clearly does all this indicate that the evils which oppress
other parts of Ireland--which convert its fertile lands into deserts, and
its people into starving and turbulent men--are social? The thriving population
and generally high state of cultivation of the county of Derry, arising
from the well-directed application of the
"The outrages and shootings (in) Tipperary and some adjacent counties
are disgraceful to the nation--they mark the existence amongst the people
of the most cowardly and savage brutality. It is folly to apply to
such a society the humane and
"A free and liberal Government--mild and humane laws, which depend as
much upon the co-operation and aid of the people
"Fine the community for every crime, and enforce the fine. If crime still goes on, send another thousand policemen into the county, and make the county bear the whole expense....
"If a criminal is sentenced to transportation pack him off at once.
Do not give him time in gaol to leave behind him amongst his friends a
legacy of revenge. Punish every crime with a fitting punishment. What cares
the man who can gloat over revenge, perpetrated or determined upon, for
a three months' imprisonment?
"At the termination of his imprisonment give him a repetition of the same dose, and send him home to his friends to doctor his back for him. A few such examples as these would have a thousand times greater effect than all the rewards and proclamations in the world. “
"Strive by overwhelming force to make the punishment of crime certain,
and make its punishment terrible. If an outcry is raised against you by
vagabonds and the press of the "Vindicator" class, never mind it; uphold
what is good in the community, and
"With a firm and determined hand put down agitation, whether that agitation
be Orange or Repeal. If necessary, fear not to do it despotically. Remember
you are dealing with a people who in the mass are almost uncivilized. Like
children they require governing with the hand of power. They require authority,
and will bear it.
Another account of the Famine can be found here just click here
Ejectment Murder--As Major Mahon, a gentleman holding large estates in Roscommon was returning home about twenty minutes past six o' clock on the evening of Monday, from a meeting of the board of guardians of the Roscommon union, he was shot dead by an assassin, about four miles from Strokestown. There were two persons engaged in the murder, according to our informant. Both fired; one piece missed fire, but the other proved fatal, lodging a heavily loaded discharge in the breast. The victim exclaimed, "Oh, God!" and spoke no more. Major Mahon was formerly in the 95th Dragoons, now Lancers, and succceeded to the inheritance of the late Lord Harland's estates about two years ago, the rental bring about #10,000. The people were said to be displeased with him for two reasons. The first was his refusal to continue the conacre system, the second was his clearing away what he deemed the surplus population. He chartered two vesseles to America and freighted them with his evicted tenatry.- The Nation,Dublin, 6 November 1847.
Robert Whyte wrote of his experiences on a Coffin
Ship headding to America in 1847.
The Journey of an Irish Coffin Ship.
30 May 1847
Many and deep are the wounds that the sensitive heart inflicts upon its possessor, as he journeys through life's pilgrimage but on few occasions are they so acutely felt as when one is about to part from those who formed a portion of his existence; deeper still pierces the pang as the idea presents itself that the separation may be for ever, but when one feels a father's nervous grasp, a dear sister's tender,sobbing embrace and the eye wanders around the apartment, drinking in each familiar object, until it rests upon the vacant chair which she who nursed his helpless infancy was wont to occupy, then the agony he wishes to conceal becomes insupportable. But as the skilful surgeon tears off the bandage which the hand of affection gently withdraws from the wound, thereby unconsciously inflicting greater pain, so it is better not to linger upon the affecting scene but rush suddenly away.
It was a charming morning on which I left dear old Ireland. The balmy
new-born day in all the freshness of early summer was gladdened by the
beams of the sun which rose above the towers of
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