“Bad as it is, we were better off in England”: Locating the Famine Irish experience in Britain through deposition testimony.

Lewis Darwen, Brian Gurrin

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    Cases of starvation were uncommon among the hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants who fled to Britain during the Great Famine (1845-51). Yet, some, for various reasons, did starve, and evidence from the inquiries which invariably followed their deaths can tell us a great deal about the difficulties poverty-stricken Famine Irish immigrants faced in the late 1840s. The inquiries can inform us, too, about their motivations and their coping strategies, and of the responses of local authorities to their circumstances. Local and national newspapers in Britain dedicated lengthy columns to starvation cases, and often included verbatim accounts of deposition testimony provided during inquiries into these deaths. The aim of this chapter is to contextualise this evidence to locate the experiences not only of the individuals who died, central though they are to each case, but of the Famine Irish in Britain more generally. Our focus is north west England, where thousands of emaciated Irish refugees arrived each month during the late 1840s. The study reminds us that the Irish did not escape danger and hardship upon leaving their famine-ravished homes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Great Famine and Social Class: Conflicts, Responsibilities, Representations
    EditorsMarguerite Corporaal, Peter Gray
    PublisherPeter Lang
    Publication statusPublished - 2019

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