Fifth and Sixth Class

William Hague Famine accounts Alive at the time The landlords
William Hague 1836 - 1899 William Hague lived and worked during the Great Famine in Ireland 1845-'47. As an architect he would have enjoyed a better quality of life than most of the poor people at that time. Despite the suffering and poverty of the people then, we note that many of Hague's works, particularly the Churches, got under way. By building these churches the people demonstrated that they wished to hold on to their faith. This fact prompted us to have a closer look at the Famine, the suffering that it caused, and its social implications. We learned a Famine play and performed it for the rest of the school. We divided the class into groups and looked at the Famine under various headings:

A. Famine Accounts

B. Alive at the Time

C. The Landlords

D. Letters from the U.S.A.

E. Artists Impressions

F. What the people said

Fatal Years.

In 1565 the potato first came to Ireland. They were brought by an English man Sir Walter Raleigh. By 1800 about three million people depended on the potato. They depended on it because it was easy to grow. In 1841 a census was taken. The population was a staggering eight million. In those days the average farmer had five acres of land. Most people lived in a two roomed house. The rent was three pounds a year. It is said that in 1845 an artificial fertilizer was introduced in Europe. The strong winds that blew the fertilizer over to Ireland. In the fertilizer was a chemical that would change Ireland for four years. People started to notice that the leaves looked a brown colour. Terrible smells also came from the plants. The crop failed terribly that year. The exact same thing happened the next. Many people ended up on the street because they could not pay their rent. Many people died of fever or hunger. People emigrated to America or went to the Workhouse. A lot of people died during the Famine. In 1881 bluestone and washing soda prevented blight.


Failing Crop


In 1565 Sir Walter Raleigh introduced potato into Ireland and in 1800 at least three million people depended on the potato, because it was easy to grow .In 1841 the population was eight million .The average farm size was 4 to 5 acres .One acre would have been for oats .One acre for potatoes, two acres for grazing and one acre of bog. Rent was three pound per year. The people ate oatmeal fried in bacon fat. In 1845 blight struck the potatoes. People started to notice black spots on the potatoes .In 1846 70 percent of the potato crop failed .In 1847 the famine got worse. Many people emigrated to America. Workhouses were set up. People dreaded going to them. Indian meal was imported from the U.S.A. Ships brought the meal from the U.S.A. These ships were known as coffin ships because many people from Ireland emigrated on them. In 1848 blight was very bad. Thousands died or emigrated .In 1881 bluestone and washing soda was used to prevent blight. Then the population of Ireland was eight million. Now it is five million.

Aisling .

Days of Hunger

I am Fiona O Connor. The year is 1847, one of the years of The Great Famine. The reason for the Famine is that the potato crop failed. The potatoes were our main source of food. When it failed we were doomed to starve. My family are better off than others. The very poor are dying, being evicted or have left their lives and families behind and sailed to America. My parents are friends of our landlord, and have been given a lot of money and food. The other tenants are having a hard time staying alive and finding money for the rent. My brothers and sisters wish to sail to America. Everywhere I go people are starving. On Monday we went past a mass grave. About seventy people were in the pit. I don't think many people had the privilege of being buried in a coffin. One of our neighbours was buried in the local grave-yard, but that family aren't so poor. My brother Daniel has started coughing. Even special medicine hasn't cured him. Emigration has become a better option for us, and we have relations in America. Our father has been saving money for tickets on a ship which will probably be crowded. Fever is common there and people who die are thrown out to sea. I have a feeling the Famine is far from over.


Days of Hunger

My name is Claire. In 1845 all the poor were depending on the potato. While people were digging for potatoes others would be inside trying to keep their children alive. My neighbours son got battered by the Landlords and you don't know how that felt for Michael with his wedding coming up. When people die on ships they throw them over board so you would call it buried at sea. In 1881 bluestone and washing soda was used to prevent blight. A few years later the famine got bad.Seventy Percent of potato crop failed in 1846. This meant that they could not eat the potatoes. The average size of the farm was 4-5 acres. 1 acre for oats, 1 acre for potatoes, 2 acres for grazing, and 1 acre of bog. In 1846 three million depended on potatoes because that was all that they had to eat. The rent was three pounds per year. Many people left the country during the famine. Most of them went to America. Many people died, even on the side of the road. Some went to the workhouse. I hope that we never see famine in our country again.


The Traveller

My name is Barney. I own a farm outside Letterkenny about five acres squared. Lucky for me I have: two cows, twenty hens, four pigs, five geese, and one peacock. I use my five acres of land in this order or way: I have one acre for crops (potatoes, oats etc.), one acre for my geese, my pigs, ten of my Hens. I have one acre for my cows & ten more of my hens, I have one acre resting and finally one for storage of food and a barn for the winter. I earn roughly forty pounds a year, a very handsome sum of money. I have a wife called Maura and four children called Tomas, Fionan, Mary and Caitriona. This morning I was out picking potatoes and all of them were blighted . We managed on it for a year and I had the wisdom to emigrate . Two days later we were on a ship to the U.S.A . going from Lough Swilly . The journey over was rough and unpleasant . Experiencing over one hundred deaths was highly unexpected . But over here is excellent . We're richer than in Ireland and sometimes I wonder what's happening back there . ``Back in Ireland``.

Malachy .

Darkest Days

Hello my name is Maggie. I used to live in Butlersbridge Co. Cavan Ireland.. In 1565 a man named Sir Walter Raleigh brought a delicious vegetable to Ireland. It was a very nourishing food and soon a lot of people depended on it for a food source. I will tell you about what happened in those terrible years of 1845, 1846, and 1847 I was working in my father's acre of land collecting potatoes when I uprooted one. The stench was unbearable and the potato was black. I called my father and he came out and picked up another potato it was also black. Every single potato was black. It was the same with our neighbours potatoes. We could not eat any potatoes and soon we began to eat our chickens pigs and cows.
Mother was very sad to see her prized chickens disappear as in those years, twenty chickens would be as good as cow. My sister and I ate chicken meat with oatmeal fried in bacon fat as a gravy over it. But soon our chickens ran out and we had to eat Indian meal.
In the year of 1846 seventy per cent of our crops failed. One day my sister Mary and I went for a walk and we saw a pile of skeletons at the side of the roadside. There was a sign saying ''NO TRESPASSING''. In the paper it said that over 500 people had emigrated to America. As we walked we saw people doing useless tasks like building roads to nowhere. A lot of people were begging for food. My family was not as badly affected by the famine, as others would be. But my best friend Sally caught pneumonia and died.
In 1847 the price of Indian meal soared and the public work scheme was abandoned. My father lost his job and we were evicted by our landlord Master Mallon. We sold our furniture and emigrated to America. There was a lot of work there and I became a seamstress. I heard that the famine was over in Ireland, but I never wanted to go back, there was just too many memories. After the blight someone found out how to stop it by spraying a mixture of bluestone and washing soda on the stalks. But it was a bit late wasn't it?


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Landlord's Lament

My name is Master Mallon and I am a landlord. The year is 1848. I own ten acres of land and I rent another 7 acres to the lower people than I. The rent is between 2 and 3 pounds a year. I live in a huge mansion with my brother John. He is a farmer and he takes care of the farm. During the early stages of the Famine, I didn't lower the rents, but now I had to lower the rent to One pound ten shillings a year. I am getting paid with cows and chickens. My tenants are either emigrating or dying. People come knocking on my door for food. But I slammed the door in their faces. How do people have the nerve to ask me for food? My food supply is slowly decreasing. Fevers are going around Butlersbridge and now my brother John has died of a fever. So I am hiring my tenants to grow my food and in return I don't evict them, but they still have to pay their rents.


The Landlady's View.

My Name is Lady Chantal. My husbands name is Major Donoghue. We live in Aughadrumaguillion, Butlersbridge, Co. Cavan. Last night we were down asking young John for our rent. My husband Alex just wants the money but every time he takes too much money. At night I give some money back. I have seven sons and three daughters. My youngest is Bill and he is two. My oldest is Mary and she is sixteen. My husband is 40 and I am 37. The year is 1847. A lot of people have died. Mary is engaged to Major Smith's son, John. They will be moving to the U.S.A. very soon.



My name is Master Fitzgerald. I live in Butlersbridge.The tenants are a nuisance. They won't pay their rent and l am going to sort them out but where will they go? I just don't know. This blight is a disaster. There are people knocking on the door and once when l went out there was a dead man at the door step. Yesterday l caught a servant stealing some Indian meal. I might go to America but what will l do with the land? I just don't know . Today l saw a landlord hitting a servant. l tried to help him but it was too late. A lot of people have emigrated to America and l think l will go too. One of my tenants died today. His name was John. I will give his wife some money. On Friday l am going to America.

Evan .

Lenient Landlady

My name is Lady Victoria. And I am married to Major Duffy. I have one daughter. Her name is Mary. She is fifteen years old. I live in Kilnalack Butlersbridge . My house is very big. I am thirty -five and my husband is thirty-nine. We have six horses and twenty hens. The year is 1847. I don't mind poor people because they live all around us. Our bailiffs are trying to collect rent from our tenants but not many are able to pay. I would like the Major to bring down the rent but he refuses to take pity on the poor. Mary is getting married to the Earl of Redhills. The Major does not want the marriage but I do. A lot of people are moving to America but we' re not. We mostly eat potatoes, buttermilk, eggs and rarely meat. After Mary's marriage she will be moving to America. I don't want her to leave but she and the Earl are going to leave in a week . This means that the Major and I will be alone for the rest of our lives. Mary says she will talk the Earl into coming back. But I don't think they will.

Grace .

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14 Green Street.

Dear Mammy and Daddy.

When we were on the coffin ship I did not think we would make it. But in the end we did make it. I have some good news to tell you. I got married. I was called Miss Brady. But now I am called Mrs 'O Rourke. The land is from one dollar an acre to fifty an acre. The landlord has not to come craving rent anymore. Anyone that is careful with their money can save twenty dollars a year. We keep ourselves in clothes and in what we need. There is a lot of meat and money for those who are willing to work. What is the fever and blight like now? Megan Fitzgerald is married. She has a boy and a girl. They are struggling to get by. I feel sorry for them. Thank God we are OK for money. I have a lot of new friends. We are growing a lot of crops but we are not growing potatoes because we are afraid of blight attacking again. I hope this money will help you. We will be coming back in a few years. I hope to see you soon.

Love, Claire .

14 Yellow Park

Dear Mom and Family,

It's Megan here. I am living in 14 Yellow Park, Boston in America. It was a rough ride on the coffin ship. Grace and Claire are still alive. There were many people thrown over board. I was very tired and sick on the ship. I thought I would have been thrown over board. The rent is five dollars a month. I have a good job.I work as a maid. The man I work for is my landlord. He is very kind. Claire has got married to James O'Rourke. Grace has got married and has three children. How is the family? How are the potatoes? I will send on ten pound a month. There are many people from Ireland in America. I have good news to tell you Mom you are a Grandma. I have got married to Liam Fitzgerald. I have one daughter called Ciara and a son called Ryan. We are growing crops. We are hoping to come back for the summer.

From, Megan, Liam, Ciara, Ryan.

15 Bobs Street,

Dear Family,

The boat trip was unbearable. Nearly four people a day were thrown over the edge and who ever suffered of cholera, typhoid and other diseases like that were unfortunate. When I arrived it was very easy to get lost but a nice old man showed me the way. Thank God I got a job in a quarry and I get good pay. I get twenty dollars a year. I will send ye money every month. I hope you are all well. I got five acres of land and I grow good potatoes and oats. The landlords are very decent people. They only charge two dollars a year. I hope that the blight will end. Back soon.

Love, Pauric.

Hilltop Avenue,

Dear Mammy and Daddy,

How are you all at home? I know Johnny is not well. How are Mary and Patrick doing? As you can see I made it safely to Boston. The journey over was very bad. However I did make three friends on the boat Paddy, Liam, and Paul. Paul is from Cavan too. Sadly Liam died of Fever on the third week. About two hundred people died and were thrown off the boat. We got there in about 10 weeks. Paddy went to Philadelphia to work in a coal mine. As for Paul and I ,we went to Boston to work on the rail way. I can earn at least $30.00 a year. The life is good over here. In my next letter I will send some money. I will visit as soon as I can.

Your loving Son, Connor. (Lisa)

Sunhill Road,
Walway Avenue,

Dear Family,

How are you all? As you know Johnny, Maggie, Elizabeth, James and I headed off to America ten weeks ago.Unfortunately only three of us made it to America . Elizabeth and Johnny died of fever .They were not the only ones. Hundreds of people died on that boat, when we left Ireland there was six hundred people on the boat. When we got to America there were only one hundred people left. Maggie met a man called James and a few weeks later they got married. They are now living in Philadelphia. I share a house with two others.Their names are Judy and Louise. I work in a shop. I earn fifteen dollars a year. When I am settled here I will send some money home.In about five years time I hope to come home. That's all the news for now.
Lots of Love ,

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