The Great Irish Famine and After


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By Dr Rosaleen O’Brien

ISBN: 978-1-84747-510-7
Published: 2008
Pages: 100
Key Themes: poetry, politics, Irish Potato Famine, author who suffered trauma, empathy


The Famine Years was a time in Irish History that makes one shudder. This account looks at the plight of the destitute. With no support from any angle most waited for death. Why such
unbelievable things came about is anybody’s guess and why the Potato Blight did not wipe out such vast amounts of people in other lands is hard to understand?
Ireland survived and so did some of her people, over one million died of the hunger, hardship and cold. Looking inside the heart of the starving people is found a need to sustain life and that could only have been achieved by eating nourishing food. Having read this book many Irish readers and those around the world will have been reminded how nourishing a potato is and the various ways of cooking same. How to deal with the green colour and how many lands far and wide enjoy it as part of their everyday diet.
Those who have fled and planned to make a new life elsewhere were so lucky that they succeeded as there would have been nothing left to have stayed in Ireland for. Of course many never made the journey.
All in all this book is a must for all who want to read a good part of Irish History and see a positive ending…

There are similar books on the market today but I do not see many carrying the poetic enlightenment that this book promises. Poetry is music to the soul and the jaunty style I employ is one that takes the reader on a journey of discovery. It brings the reader to ask what it means to be Irish and asks could a racist act be committed against the Irish today? Being Irish carries a sense of achievement in itself. After all one’s family way back in time survived the famine years and more.
There are social issues, moral and religious issues to be dealt with and this book is a good start to any Theological Seminar.
The first point to make about this book is to remind the reader about the stark state of humility that faced the victims of the Famine … There was no false pride – no giving up on God and an innocent acceptance of treatment meted out by the English which was way beyond comprehension.
This book is intended for all Irish people who through no fault of their own have been forced to leave Ireland. Some have left in search of employment, while others have left with an excited heart ready to seek adventure abroad, while others never kept in touch with family but now are feeling homesick and would love to read a piece of history. The famine years brought out the best in Irish people.

About the Author

I have been in receipt of trauma counselling since 1999 on a daily basis,at times speaking till the early hours of the morning.Support from my trauma Counsellor helps me to come to terms with accepting that what has happened to me cannot now be changed. I cannot ever forgive those who had a vicarious liability to look after me and failed. As a result of being locked away for some years all because we were poor has brought certain limitations to my day to day life. Writing is a form of therapy and allows me to be free to be the person that I want to be, and should have been my birthright. Through writing I can reach out to others who may have had such an unfortunate experience as myself . Daily flashbacks can be upsetting and I fill my life with things to do so as to block them out. Day to day life can be exhausting and coping mechanisms that I learnt in order to survive have not helped me in the outside world. God help all fellow survivors and perhaps one day Ireland will accept the terrible price we paid. Shame on all you right thinking residents in Ireland to allow the government and Catholic Church to ignore harm done to me and many others who are either dead or too ill to tell their story. Thanks to Chipmunkapublishing I have been able to confront my demons and a Big Thank you to Reatha my trauma counsellor without her I would not be here today writing about my stolen life.

Book Extract

Such pity touches one’s soul
Praying to God to ease their hunger
They knew that this was God’s role
The Masters who ignored this plight
Must answer to God above
There was ample hatred in those days
Inside that velvet glove
Before we look at the potato famine and the pain
That starvation has caused
Let’s look at one’s right to life
And the lives that have been lost
Some say that the English turned a blind eye
Out of a Protestant view of Divine Providence at it’s worse
Others feel it was a result of portraying Irish as useless
And many feel they should be seen as cursed
The Irish were seen by the English as perverse and ill fated
Having shown this image it is easy too see the Irish underrated
The English called names such as ‘bog trotters’

This had been a long standing joke
Soon the famine would claim so many lives wiping out Irish folk




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