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Annals of the Famine in Ireland, in 1847, 1848, and 1849 Paperback – November 26, 2017
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Written by a feisty no-nonsense widow from New York who traveled extensively throughout Ireland during that dark time. She felt compelled to see for herself the conditions under which more than half the population lived. In the process she fell in love with the Irish people and saw things that probably haunted her forever. Graveyards with so many piled coffinless bodies that the top one would often be half-exposed. Dogs eating people and people eating dogs. Sick and starving families evicted, living in roadside ditches. The absence of hearing children at play. They haunt me now.
"I must not enlarge; these things are not mentioned to probe afresh the painful sensations which philanthropists have felt for Ireland, but to bear a testimony to facts, which deserve to be recorded; and should any of these facts appear exaggerated, let it be said that no language is adequate to give the true, the real picture; one look of the eye into the daily scenes there witnessed, would overpower what any pen, however graphic, or tongue, however eloquent, could portray.". - Asenath Nicholson.
Top international reviews
During the famine she worked with those providing relief to the poor. She travelled extensively throughout the country to do so. She saw a great variety of management and distribution of relief. Her commentary is revealing. In places where the attitude by those in charge had an urgency befitting the circumstances survival rates were good. In other places where the focus was bureaucratic the death rates of recipients were higher. There were instances where the Indian meal sent freely from American charities rotted at the docks whilst distribution was debated.
The most memorable scene for me was her arrival on an island of the coast of Donegal. She was heartened and almost joyful by the sight of some healthy looking dogs near the docks. Her boatman's demeanor betrayed the reality.