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CELTIC-L  October 1995

CELTIC-L October 1995

Subject:

Re: Remembering

From:

Stiof240n MacAmhalgaidh <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Mon, 23 Oct 1995 15:06:00 EDT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (50 lines)

Will,
 
This list is getting really full, so I'll just make one comment...
 
>About the Great Hunger. Similar famines struck Scotland, and into Europe,
>and Northumberland as well. Great devastation struck during the weather of
>those several years. Yet, we do not get fussed over the starvation that hit
>there as to the extent we do with Irish history. Why?
 
I think the reason that the Irish Great Hunger has had such an impact on the
national consciousness is that it played a huge role in Ireland's history.
To expand, the Hunger caused so many deaths & forced so many abroad that the
population of Ireland dropped by several millions. The people living in
Ireland could see bumper crops (even of potatoes) during the years of the
Hunger, but these crops were destined for (mainly) English markets. The
potatoes, though produced in huge quantities, were infected & rotten in most
cases. Imagine seeing the food you and your family need to live leaving for
England, watching the food you depend on rot in the fields, watching your
family and friends starve, seeing the dead on the roadside, seeing your
community torn apart by evictions, death and emigration. Consider this
occurring despite of the recent (a generation before) achievement of
Catholic emancipation and you can see how a widespread radicalisation of the
common consciousness towards the plight of the Irish under the half-century
old union with Great Britain. Where did the Fenians come from? the Land
League? the growth of national sentiment & disillusionment with the existing
political arrangement? Why are so many US citizens of Irish descent so
radically nationalistic about their Irish heritage? Surely there is a
connection here.
 
With the 150th anniversary of the Hunger there have been many reassessments
both of the events of the time and of our views on them. Again and again the
point has come up that the Irish people have spent most of the last 150
years trying to accommodate these events into our shared & personal world
views. It's not easy. I'm regularly emotional about these events. The 100th
anniversary passed without commemmoration. Even then it was too close & too
painful for the people of the new Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland
states to be openly emotional about it.
 
The fact is that the Hunger played a major role in politicising peasant
affairs on a national scale, of radicalising national & Catholic politics
and creating a huge expatriate community with abiding memories of of
wrongdoing by the English. None of this happened immediately, but after a
quick start, progressively over the following 75 years. The Hunger helped
shape modern Ireland and the nature of much of expatriate Irish sentiment.
 
What more do you want?
 
Stiofa/n mac Amhalgaidh. "MAQQI"
Aontacht Ceilteach.

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