Figures in a Famine Landscape (Paperback)
  • Figures in a Famine Landscape (Paperback)
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Figures in a Famine Landscape (Paperback)

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£23.99
Paperback 240 Pages / Published: 08/09/2016
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Figures in a Famine Landscape is a ground-breaking study that follows a number of individuals involved in different public capacities in a particularly afflicted district of Ireland during the Great Famine. The thinking and actions of each had a major effect on the existences - and the survival - of scores of thousands of the destitute poor in Ireland at a crucial point in the country's history. Among these figures are an outspoken newspaper editor; two clergymen (one Catholic, one Protestant); two highly qualified and busy physicians; two landlords and an exterminating agent; a Board of Works official and a Poor Law inspector. Taking an exhaustive approach to source material that includes private diaries, letters, official reports and correspondence, police files, parliamentary papers and a wealth of newspapers, in this enthralling study the author builds up an in-depth, almost microscopic picture of each individual, providing a unique and very human lens through which to view the Great Famine.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9781472511553
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 383 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 15 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
[A]n in-depth study of the Great Famine in an area of County Clare, focusing on the role of particular individuals such as clergymen, landlords and newspapermen. * Books Ireland *
Figures in a Famine Landscape follows nine very different individuals through Ireland's Great Famine of 1845-51. Among them are a Board of Works inspector indifferent to the suffering of the 'perverse creatures' seeking employment on ill-conceived government relief schemes; a money-grubbing doctor who saw financial opportunity in starvation and disease; and a Tory newspaperman shocked by the horror unfolding around him. Most memorable are a land-agent whose gang of drunken 'wreckers' tore down the homes of thousands of smallholders, and his nemesis, a country priest, tending to the hungry and disease-ravaged crowds turned out onto the roadsides by the 'Exterminator General'. Yet there are few simple villains and heroes in Ciaran O Murchadha's thoughtful and moving book, but rather complex characters vividly sketched by an accomplished historian. * Breandan Mac Suibhne, Centenary University, USA *
Figures in a Famine Landscape is a study of the lives of nine men, who either knew each other, or of each other. O Murchadha's extensive research provides a new understanding of their roles, or in his words a 'human credibility', that does not always conform with previous views. His exploration of the lives of the less well-known men is an incredible work of historical recovery. Fittingly also, the landscape itself plays an important part in explaining the devastation that visited this county. [The book] not only adds to our understanding of the Great Famine in County Clare, it also provides a model for other micro-studies. It is the work of an accomplished historian who has mastery of his topic and his locality. It is essential famine reading. * Christine Kinealy, Ireland's Great Hunger Institute, Quinnipiac University, USA *
Ciaran O Murchadha's high reputation as a distinguished historian of the Great Irish Famine is further enhanced by this important reconstruction--based on diaries and other invaluable archival materials--of the lives of nine people in Famine-stricken Clare. One of the counties most devastated by Famine deaths and evictions, it is not surprising that at least six of the protagonists in the book --John Busteed Knox, Captain Edmond Wynne, Marcus Keane, Father Michael Meehan, Crofton Moore Vandeleur and Captain A.E. Kennedy--are known in the national literature. Exceptions are the self- aggrandising medic Cullinan, the incurious Church of Ireland careerist Murphy and the sophisticated landlord/magistrate Singleton. But here O Murchadha , in an exhaustive and enthralling piece of writing, illuminates many aspects of their attitudes and behaviours during these turbulent Famine years. His intimate knowledge of the townlands and mid- 19th century gentry and middle-class families of Co. Clare brilliantly contextualises these lives. It is a tour-de-force of good writing and research with a wonderful evocative conclusion on the Famine landscape. * William J Smyth, Emeritus Professor of Geography, University College Cork, Ireland *

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