John Mitchel, Ulster and the Great Irish Famine

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John Mitchel: the subject of this fine essay collection.

John Mitchel: the subject of this fine essay collection.

Sat, Nov 18, 2017, 00:00


Book Title:
John Mitchel, Ulster and the Great Famine


Patrick Fitzgerald & Anthony Russell (eds.)

Irish Academic Press

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This valuable essay collection comes mainly from academic historians but some contribute from the perspective of theology, family history and local history. Cormac Ó Gráda concludes fewer died during the Famine in Ulster because of its more diversified diet and economy, less-encumbered landlords better able to fund relief and less likely to evict, fewer farm labourers than the rest of Ireland and a better-working poor-law and workhouse regime. To these, Anthony Russell would add a greater tradition of tenant rights and more widespread presence of industries but he strongly asserts that the Famine impacted severely on both communities in Ulster.

Patrick Fitzgerald agrees and points out that the 19 per cent decline in the Catholic population is only marginally ahead of the 18 per cent decline among Presbyterians. James Quinn writes eloquently about how John Mitchel saw no contradiction in condemning the treatment of the Irish rural poor and defending slavery in America. Folklore can tell us much about the Famine, according to Cathal Póirtéir, such as casting light on “small human details that might otherwise escape our attention”.