1846 – Daniel O’Connell speaks about The Great Hunger in The House of Commons.

In the House of Commons, Daniel O’Connell warns about the dangers of The Great Hunger. ‘It was certain that there was a fearful prospect of a most calamitous season before the people of Ireland. The extent of that calamity had been disputed, and there had been a time when there was a prospect of some portion of it being possibly averted… The calamity was pressing, was imminent—more pressing, more imminent, and more fearful than that House was aware of. In order to understand it, it was right that the House should be made aware of the state of Ireland before the calamity, had impended.’

The level of poverty in Ireland was evidenced by further comments from O’Connell, ‘The last Population Returns of 1841 showed that, out of the whole rural population of Ireland, 46 per cent lived in a single room; the entire human family and the pigs occupied the same apartment together. The next fact was, that of the civil population—that is, of the inhabitants of towns—36 per cent lived in a single room, and that two or three families sometimes occupied the same room.’

Image: Political cartoon from the 1880s: ‘In forty years I have lost, through the operation of no natural law, more than Three Million of my Sons and Daughters, and they, the Young and the Strong, leaving behind the Old and Infirm to weep and to die. Where is this to end?’


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