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The End of Hidden Ireland: Rebellion, Famine, and Emigration [Paperback]

by Robert Scally
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 13, 1996 0195106598 978-0195106596
Many thousands of Irish peasants fled from the country in the terrible famine winter of 1847-48, following the road to the ports and the Liverpool ferries to make the dangerous passage across the Atlantic. The human toll of "Black '47," the worst year of the famine, is notorious, but the lives of the emigrants themselves have remained largely hidden, untold because of their previous obscurity and deep poverty. In The End of Hidden Ireland, Scally brings their lives to light. Focusing on the townland of Ballykilcline in Roscommon, Scally offers a richly detailed portrait of Irish rural life on the eve of the catastrophe. From their internal lives and values, to their violent conflict with the English Crown, from rent strikes to the potato blight, he takes the emigrants on each stage of their journey out of Ireland to New York. Along the way, he offers rare insights into the character and mentality of the immigrants as they arrived in America in their millions during the famine years. Hailed as a distinguished work of social history, this book also is a tale of adventure and human survival, one that does justice to a tragic generation with sympathy but without sentiment.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

During the winter of 1847-48-"Black '47"-when the potato famine ravaged Ireland, the town of Ballykilcline, County Roscommon, was hit hard. The problem "was above all about food, and therefore about land." Hopelessly behind in paying their rent, the tenant-farmers rebelled. Those who had taken advantage of an offer from their landlord, Major Mahon, and left for Canada perished en route. News of the disaster reached Ballykilcline and Mahon was murdered. Recriminations followed about "Papist plots" on the landlord's side met by stalwart resistance on the part of the tenants. This study of the Irish land system and the effects of the great famine shows how the land was divided; the influence of the "Gentlemen and the Squireens"; the hatred of the peasants for the "drivers"-the landlords' rent collectors and evicters; and the peasants' eventual emigration (paid for by the British crown) and their new lives in the United States. Scally is professor of history and director of the Glucksman Ireland House at New York University. His account will be of particular interest to academicians. Illustrated.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"The End of Hidden Ireland opens a window on a lost world in the process of becoming lost. Robert James Scally combines the labor of an archivist with the speculative verve of an historian of mentalities."--The Washington Post

"Well written and well researched, a distinct contribution to the subject."--Kirkus Reviews

"Scally's book is compulsively readable, an intimate and humane portrait of a society on the brink of dissolution."--Kevin Whelan, Royal Irish Academy, Dublin

"A beautifully written, deeply researched work of historical investigation that makes an important contribution to a true accounting of the Irish past... His book is a revelation."--Peter A. Quinn, author of Banished Children of Eve

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (June 13, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195106598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195106596
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #530,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Scally does an excellent job of using historical facts to present a better picture of a devistated Ireland. Americans in particular often misunderstand the cause of the chaos usually blamed on the potato blight. In reality, the famine was only the "icing on the cake", which Scally explains well. The first half of the book is a very detailed description of Ireland in the days immediately preceeding the famine. The second half walks us through the once-green hills of a broken Ireland, passing sunken faces and hungry eyes. Scally has been accused of leaving historical fact for emotional imagination. I submit the idea that every historian must create something from imagination at some point. Although we can read facts, we must paint the scenes in our minds. This is an excellent book to read if you are already interested in "Black '47" and is also good for the serious reader who cares to explore the Emerald Isle of 150 years ago . . . this is also an important source for an Irish-American who would like to better understand his or her roots, like me. Perhaps those of us who have ties to the isle are more likely to appreciate the suffering that happened there.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking reading about my own ancestors. July 1, 2001
The trauma and distress my own ancestors went through during this famine period was horrible. In the ten year period Ballykilcline lost over 90% of its population from disease, eviction, emigration and death by starvation. My own ancestors lived in Kilglass Parish where they lost 55% of their population. Robert James Scally's book gave me a very clear understanding of what transpired from about 1835 to 1850.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very VERY comprehensive April 20, 1998
By A Customer
I give this book a "7" mostly because Scally should get a lot of credit for all the research he did for this book. It's very obvious. However, I would not recommend it if you are looking for a quick and easy read. This book is best for someone studying the famine and migration of the Irish to America.
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