Tuesday 26 March 2013

National Famine Commemoration in Kilrush

Kilrush, County Clare, and its environs were among the areas worst hit by the Great Irish Famine between 1845 and the early 1850s. In the 1840s, half a century before the introduction of Local Authorities, most local government and local taxation were devolved to the level of the Poor Law Union and placed in the hands of the local Boards of Guardians. In the Kilrush Union, which originally stretched all the way from Loop Head in the west to Quilty in the north to Killadysert in the east, the unpaid Guardians lost control of the situation during the famine. In November 1847, Captain Arthur Kennedy was appointed in an advisory capacity as Poor Law Inspector for Kilrush, where he remained until September 1850. His detailed reports documented the further deterioration of the situation, and the Guardians were stripped of their powers, which were transferred between April 1848 and November 1849 to two paid Vice-Guardians. Between December 1849 and February 1850, the Illustrated London News carried a lengthy seven-part series entitled Condition of Ireland: Illustrations of the New Poor-Law, illustrated by a total of eighteen sketches. The series and the sketches concentrated on the Poor Law Union of Kilrush, where the effects of famine were particularly harshly felt. These eighteen contemporary sketches are today by far the best recognised images of famine conditions in Ireland. Some or all of them have been reproduced in almost every general work on the Famine. The 2013 National Famine Commemoration will take place on Sunday 12th May on Frances Street in Kilrush. A full ten-day programme of events leading up to the National Famine Commemoration will begin on Friday 3rd May, including a series of lectures, walks, tours, re-enactments, theatre, music, exhibitions and local commemoration ceremonies. These events recall the impact of the Great Famine on the people and the landscape of the Kilrush Poor Law Union. There will be no cover charge for any of the events listed in this programme. Donation boxes for charities currently fighting famine around the world will be located at some venues.

Brochure of events...

Kilrush Union Minute Books 1849
Deaths and Staff in Kilrush and Ennistymon Workhouses 1850-51
Reports and Returns Relating to Evictions in the Kilrush Union (1847-1849)
The Famine in Clare from the Illustrated London News, 1849-50
Poverty before the Famine (examines Kilkee)

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