A new book uses eye-witness accounts, original paintings, and vivid illustrations to tell the harrowing story of the Irish Famine.
Written by Kerry author Jerry Mulvihill, "The Truth Behind the Irish Famine 1845-1852" features 72 original paintings and illustrations alongside eye-witness accounts in order to visualize and create a better understanding of the darkest time in Irish history.
Mulvihill commissioned six internationally renowned artists to produce the paintings and illustrations based on more than 400 eye-witness accounts featured in the book.
"After thorough research into illustrations and paintings of the time it became very clear to me that the harrowing and true events of the mid-1800s in Ireland had actually in effect never been depicted at all," Mulvihill wrote in a recent op-ed in the Irish Times.
"I wanted to depict that time in history exactly the way it was described in the history books, and in other sources. The sadness, the horror, the evicted, the dying, the emigrants, and the export of food – all of the realities of the Great Hunger, that until now, had been visually concealed."
Mulvihill spent three years researching Ireland's Famine years, drawing from newspaper accounts, eye-witness statements, and comments from British politicians.
Reports from American and German travelers were among the harrowing accounts of the Irish Famine, describing with painful accuracy the starvation and poverty that Irish people were subjected to.
Meanwhile, Mulvihill found that newspaper reports from the era differed greatly depending on whether they came from Ireland or England.
The Cork Examiner, for example, accurately described the poverty and starvation that many Irish people encountered over the seven-year period. The Times of London, on the other hand, dismissed the reports as exxagerations and chose to portray Irish people as inhumane.
"The Great Hunger is understood as the result of Irish seditiousness, potato-dependence, and racial traits. Illustrator John Leech caricatured the Irish by portraying them in rags and, at times, with simian features," Mulvihill wrote in the Irish Times.
The Kerry author has received widespread acclaim for his latest work, with Irish President Michael D. Higgins describing it as "a widely researched and wonderful book".
Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese described the book as "a fascinating pursuit of the truth", while Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales" said that it was "a fascinating book, that explores the tragic events of our two countries history".
Tanáiste Leo Varadkar, Irish Late Late Show presenter Ryan Tubridy, former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, and several other prominent Irish politicians and celebrities have also lavished praise on the compelling exploration into the Famine and its causes.
Hardback editions of "The Truth Behind the Irish Famine 1845-1852" can be purchased at www.jerrmulvihill.com for €30, while paperback editions cost €25. All copies are signed by Mulvihill, while international shipping is available. Mulvihill's two childrens books and his "History of the Puck Fair" are also available to purchase on his website.