2 books about Ireland’s Great Hunger

Cover of the book "The Great Hunger" by C. Woodham-Smith

I first read this book as a child.
1.1 million Irish died, and 1 million emigrated.

Americans call it the Irish Potato Famine. The Irish call it the Great Hunger.

Ireland has had many troubles, but this was the greatest social catastrophe in modern Irish history.

I’ve read two excellent books about it that I recommend. I read one as a child, and another quite recently.

Cecil Woodham-Smith

My grandma was of Irish descent. When I was a child, she had a book called “The Great Hunger: Ireland, 1845-1849” by Cecil Woodham-Smith.

I got interested and read the whole book. I learned a lot. Sadly, 1.1 million people in Ireland (one eighth of the population) died from famine-related causes. A further one million people emigrated.

John Kelly
John Kelly wrote book The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People, published in August 2012.

Kelly knows catastrophe. Previously, he wrote The Great Mortality, a history of the plagues that devastated Europe in the Middle Ages that I found well done.

He recounts the horror of Ireland’s Great Hunger quite movingly.

Ultimately, he judges the Irish landowners and British government harshly. He finds the British handling of the famine was “parsimonious, short-sighted, grotesquely twisted by religion and ideology”.

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