The Great Famine of 1845 - 1849 was the most tragic episode of Irish history. The total dependence of the major proportion of the population on the potato as the source of sustenance had devastating consequences. The destruction of the potato crop by blight resulted in the death of countless people and led to a tide of emigration which would continue down the decades. The population of Ireland in 1841 had risen to over 8 million people, but by 1851 it had fallen to 6.5 million. In that period the population of County Mayo declined by 29 per cent from 388,887 to 247,830. Deaths and emigration accounted for the loss of 114,057 of Mayo's population - a stark figure when compared to the country's population today of 130,425 ( Census 2016).
Many historians have documented and analysed the Famine and the politics and economy of the period has been the subject of many books. This book is not intended as such a study. It is a portrait of the lives and deaths of the people as recorded by witnesses in books, newspapers and official records of that period.
These articles are reproduced as they appeared originally except in some cases where portions of lengthy passages have been omitted. The spellings of placenames are also as in the original. The introductions to each chapter and the headings of articles are the work of the compiler and are only intended as an aid to the reader.
The Famine in Mayo - A Portrait from contemporary sources 1845 - 1850
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