A walk through history - the horrific tale of a Mayo villages death during the Great Famine
“People found corpses by the side of the road…with grass in their mouths”
Our guide has told the same story perhaps a thousand times yet still it brought a lump to her throat.
“People around here recall that in 1849 folks living in my home town of Louisborough in Co Mayo - around 600 in total and including women and children - were starving as a result of the potato famine and a rumor went around that, if they walked to Delphi Lodge where the landlord and council of guardians were, then they’d be given food,” she said.
“It’s about 15 miles and a very beautiful walk today by the shores of the Killary and Doolough lakes. But it was bleak and freezing when those people set out on that night on their journey to meet their landlord.
“So they set out and walked anyway in atrocious conditions and literally died on the way back of weakness and starvation. Later, people found corpses by the side of the road where you’re standing with grass in their mouths that they had been eating for want of food.
“When the people had eventually got to Delphi Lodge , they were told that the guardians could not be disturbed while they were taking their lunch. When they finally did see them, the people were sent away empty-handed and most of them died on the journey back.”
We all went quiet for a moment.
Then our guide continued: “It makes me very sad and very angry.”
The Great Hunger - An Gorta Mor - is the biggest tragedy to have hit Ireland. Between 1845 and 1850 an estimated one million people died there when the staple potato crop failed. If you add forced emigration to the USA, Canada and elsewhere to that figure which followed as a result, Ireland’s total population was cut by around a quarter as a direct cause of the Famine.
There are a number of versions of the Doolough Famine Walk of 1849, as it has become known, in which the numbers of people and the circumstances of their deaths vary tremendously. We rely on a letter published in the Mayo Constitution of April 10 1849, signed by ‘A Ratepayer’, which first blew the whistle on the case.
It describes how in late March of that year, a Colonel Hogrove, a member of the Board of Guardians (who administered the Poor Relief), and a Captain Primrose, the local Poor Law inspector, arrived in Louisborough to inspect those claiming relief.
People came to the town from all around only to find that the two men had headed south to Delphi, where at that time stood on the shores of Doolough lake the hunting lodge of the Marquess of Sligo. It’s thought the two men had gone to Delphi to go hunting. They gave instructions for people to gather there for the inspection instead, or face being struck off the poor relief register.
The letter writer went on to call for an inquiry into the ‘melancholy affair’.
Louisborough today is a small friendly town. Four miles away is Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holiest pilgrimage site, at the foot of which is Ireland’s National Famine Memorial. It’s a sad metal structure of a three-masted ship, the sort that took people to the New World back then. They became known as coffin ships. Around the structure skeletal figures of the starving stand pleading.
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Brolaur that was brilliant very well put. We do have crazies in Canada just not the violent kind. The quicker that this idiot puts himself away the beIrish students told “No Irish Need Apply” to Chicago for summer 2014
I was wondering where the real Chuck was hiding. I meant nothing by my comment except to invite the Irish students to our fine country and was only giNelson Mandela was against IRA decommissioning its arms during 2000 talks
Chuck very well said, you are really a man of vision. I wish I could have said that. The world needs men like that, he was a lot like the great PresidNelson Mandela was against IRA decommissioning its arms during 2000 talks
You sat back on your effen arses and let the only real leader of Irish men since 1916 starve to death instead you went for the worm Ahern,Cowen &