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08-12-2020, 00:36   #31
Mick Tator
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Wow! Do you really want to go there?.............I'll check out O Grada certainly. An economic study of the circumstances of the famine, by definition, focuses on the behavioural issues. IE the human factors, including responsibility.
No, and I’m not going to pick at your arguments even though I disagree with many) but glad you will look at O Grada, I think you will enjoy reading him: much of his writing is freely available online, links via his academic site. My point has always been that action/reaction to historic events must be judged by the prevailing social climate, (living standards, beliefs, philosophy, etc.) and not by the norms that we hold today. It’s a question of perspective and ignoring many of the fables that were promoted by late 19thc nationalists.

In examining the Famine it has to be recognized at the outset that ‘Religion’ played a huge part in people’s lives/outlook and that it cannot be underestimated. For example, Trevelyan held deep religious convictions – his views on Ireland and the Famine were completely shaped by his firm belief in Providentialism (the belief that all events on Earth are controlled by God). Add to that his (and general popularity) of the economic doctrine of laissez-faire and you have the makings of a disaster. Trevelyan said "the judgement of God sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson" so what hope had the Irish poor, who were seen as monoglot illiterates, Pope-loving, disloyal to the Crown, etc. We see it as BS now, but at that time it was viewed as an accepted belief.

Trevelyan was not alone as a Providentialist – there were other important religious sects too with powerful adherents in that era, e.g. one later known as the ‘Plymouth Brethren’. This was founded by John Nelson Darby. He was a Church of Ireland cleric in Co. Wicklow and a major bible-thumper. After a bad fall from a horse Darby spent his convalescence rigorously studying the Bible, during which time he became very fundamentalist in his views. His beliefs were founded in pre-millenarianism - a doctrine which suggests certain events are evidence of God's pre-determined plan to bring about the second coming of Christ. As part of this Darby believed that despite the Jews' rejection of Jesus, they had a dispensation from God and the countdown to the second coming could only begin when the Jews had returned to their homeland.(A sort of Providentialism v.2.0). Many believed the Famine was part of that scheme. The Society of Friends (Quakers) deeply Protestant and 'Loyal' had a different view and did untold good.

Today we might scoff at what we regard as odd beliefs and fervour, but they and their link to the ‘second coming’ today remain popular and widespread in the US, where the Christian right, particularly the evangelical forms of Protestantism, are ardent believers/supporters. One hundred and fifty years from now historians will be wondering why the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem. Trump’s evangelical voter base support it as part of 'God's Plan'. And people like me in 150 years will be shouting about seeing it in perspective!
(OK, Trump also wanted to garner the Jewish vote, and his son-in-law had to deliver a favour as he needed to win a breather from his Jewish bankers!)
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09-12-2020, 11:19   #32
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glad you will look at O Grada, I think you will enjoy reading him: much of his writing is freely available online, links via his academic site.
You know O'Grada is a contributor to the current documentary about the Famine on RTE. He has appeared on it several times.
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09-12-2020, 12:43   #33
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Similarly statements such as “Ireland's relatively benign climate is ideal for grain tillage, deciduous fruits, root vegetables and pasture” show an ignorance of agriculture.
It sounded pretty brainy to me Mick.
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09-12-2020, 12:52   #34
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the overall effect has been a general transformation of the Irish economy to such an extent that in my lifetime, its population has increased by 75%!!!

That growth, moreover, has taken place over a period when the Irish birth rate has plummeted.
If you're looking for Irish genocide you're closer here than you were with the famine.
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09-12-2020, 23:58   #35
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You know O'Grada is a contributor to the current documentary about the Famine on RTE. He has appeared on it several times.
Yes, I’ve now seen both episodes. Overall I thought it disappointing from a historical perspective and the cameraman with the drone must have had a side-gig with Bord Failte.

Both episodes were very superficial, Ep.2 is worse than the first.. There were many good contributors but each only had ‘one-liner’ soundbites so there was no depth. More than few inaccuracies such as :- stating the fare-paid emigrants as being evicted (not so); stating the exodus from the Lansdowne Estate was a ‘clearance’ - it happened after the Famine was over and many locals fought to obtain passage. Also the figures narrated on the coffinship deaths were grossly inaccurate. In total those ships carried a very small percentage of emigrants, about 100k in total of which about 60k were Irish. Most sailed in the off-season, the harsh winter of 46/47 (one of the worst in living memory of that era) and many passengers came aboard in a weakened state and with fever. Despite that the total deaths on the voyage amounted to about 5k, so +/-3K Irish deaths. Another 15 k in total died ashore in Grosse Isle/Quebec’St.Lawrence/Montreal, mainly from fever contracted during the voyage. A horrible number but a fraction of the number asserted on the programme and the deaths ‘afloat’ are not that far off the norms of the day..

It’s fine to pontificate about mis-handling or whatever, but I’ve yet to hear any academic (particularly one like Joe Lee) come up with a coherent ‘what should have been done’ rescue programme. Yes, feed them to stop the deaths, but how can that number of illiterate homeless paupers be managed into having an existence?
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10-12-2020, 01:14   #36
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It’s fine to pontificate about mis-handling or whatever, but I’ve yet to hear any academic (particularly one like Joe Lee) come up with a coherent ‘what should have been done’ rescue programme. Yes, feed them to stop the deaths, but how can that number of illiterate homeless paupers be managed into having an existence?
Since they already existed, the question seems meaningless.

And it's worth noting that, prior to the famine, the Irish peasantry was noted not only for being poor but also for being very well-nourished and very healthy. So clearly the country was generally capable of supporting that number of people, at least in terms of feeding them, absent the extraordinary conditions of the famine. So what you mainly needed was a short-term feeding programme, and you have acknowledged yourself that that would have been possible.

As regards the problem of illiteracy, the solution to that one is obvious, and in fact it is at this very time that the national school system is being established. The solution to the problem of homelessness (or poor housing) was not so easy, and it really took land reform plus government intervention in housing to address it, but it was addressed, and it could have been addressed sooner. We have to acknowledge that to a large extent the problem existed in the first place because of a thoroughly dysfunctional system of landlordism imposed and maintained by the government in the interets of a very narrow class.

Finally, it's worth noting that Ireland was not the only country to be afflicted by potato blight at the time. It also affected Belgium, France, the United States, Canada and other countries, and it's worth looking at how those countries responded. Obviously it was a bigger problem in Ireland, due to monoculture which focussed not just on one crop, but on one variety of one crop. The long term solution to this is obvious - agricultural diversity - and, for short-term solutions, it's worth looking at how other countries responded, as compared to how the UK government responded.
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10-12-2020, 13:55   #37
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If you're looking for Irish genocide you're closer here than you were with the famine.
Don't like where you're going with this. The arrival of people from outside, per se, is not evidence of a country or nation in decline. Quite the reverse in fact.

Remember the last lot that came over and became "more Irish than the Irish themselves" so quickly that their rulers tried to impose anti-miscegenation and other cultural enforcement laws, on them so that they wouldn't "go native"?

Google the Statutes of Kilkenny if you don't know what I'm talking about.

Fancy passing a law telling Englishmen to keep their hands off Irish women!!!! How did they ever think that was going to work out?

And as for forbidding Irish music (Hey Nonny Nonny good; Diddly Diddly Dee bad). That was always going to be a loser too.

Another Statute of Kilkenny was an executive order to "Put some pants on, man!" The great medieval chronicler Froissart was scathing about the Native Irish eschewing the wearing of "britches" and preferring a cloak which permitted free air circulation around one's nether regions.

Even that tradition has survived, if only during ceremonial wearing of kilts.

Immigration beats drastic emigration every time.
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10-12-2020, 14:14   #38
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Yes, I’ve now seen both episodes. Overall I thought it disappointing from a historical perspective ...

Both episodes were very superficial, Ep.2 is worse than the first.. There were many good contributors but each only had ‘one-liner’ soundbites
Well, to be fair, that's always going to be a problem with TV histories. Even classics such as "The World at War", which I remember from my childhood and frequently revisit via box set, left many holes in the narrative.

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It’s fine to pontificate about mis-handling or whatever, but I’ve yet to hear any academic (particularly one like Joe Lee) come up with a coherent ‘what should have been done’ rescue programme. Yes, feed them to stop the deaths, but how can that number of illiterate homeless paupers be managed into having an existence?
Well, we're Irish, (I presume) so we can ask "Why are you starting from here?"

Why was there such a monoculture in farming especially at the lowest levels of society? After all, the potato had only been in Ireland for 300 years (if that) at that point. It's possible to grow other staples here, you know?
Why did they have so little economic flexibility as to be unable to purchase other foodstuffs?
Why was there so little political/administrative reaction, especially after the first response from Peel and his government at the outset of the Famine?
Why was it not sustained as the problem got worse, rather than better?
Potato blight knew no boundaries (as the show made clear). Other countries coped better.
It was the economic, social and political environment (ie the human factors) in Ireland at the time that were the main difference between the disparate effects of the potato blight on this country and on others.

Last edited by Snickers Man; 10-12-2020 at 16:01.
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10-12-2020, 19:20   #39
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Since they already existed, the question seems meaningless.
That is a bit pedestrian of you – it might be an existence, but it is not a sustainable life for a human. Living as paupers in a chimneyless, windowless one-room mud hut with rags for clothes, straw for bedding, a tin pot for cooking and having to wander the countryside as a beggar for months in the off-season was the future for the vast majority of the population.
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And it's worth noting that, prior to the famine, the Irish peasantry was noted not only for being poor but also for being very well-nourished and very healthy. So clearly the country was generally capable of supporting that number of people, at least in terms of feeding them, absent the extraordinary conditions of the famine. So what you mainly needed was a short-term feeding programme, and you have acknowledged yourself that that would have been possible.
That is not an answer to the question I asked. I already said that feeding the masses was a short-term solution, the question which never is addressed is what is the long-term one? It’s a truism that the vast majority of the population depended on a monoculture of a monoculture (potato/Lumper) and buttermilk, giving them a balanced dietary sustenance. (The Lumper variety had the highest yield, would grow anywhere and was indifferent to most climatic conditions.) But the western counties predominantly are not suitable for cereal crops. It was even worse in the 1800’s with no fungicides. The Famine occurred at the end of a ‘Little Ice Age’ – the Thames froze a few decades earlier. The 1741 famine was specifically caused by climate. Food would have to be imported or produce not exported. Apart from a brief period Ireland was a net food importer during the famine.

Population density, land condition and size of landholding precluded beef rearing at an economically viable level. There were no natural resources in Ireland. England had Coal & Ironworks, an industrial base, canal and rail networks – Ireland had none to speak of. How do you get your product to market? Where do you get the capital required for investment? Even at a very basic level, how/where can you get salt to cure your fish? So what do you do with a workforce widely dispersed across mountainsides and in areas that had no transport network (roads & trains)?
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As regards the problem of illiteracy, the solution to that one is obvious, and in fact it is at this very time that the national school system is being established.
That is incorrect and skims over the underlying causes.Firstly there was no perceived need for a labourer to read or write and conditions were such that almost all children did not attend school for long – if at all – due to cost and a need to work to contribute to the family unit.

The Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in Ireland, (Kildare Place Society) wasfounded in 1811. It was non-denominational and at the outset did not teach religion. The RCC, the CoI and the Presbyterians fought over control so it failed. The next stage was in 1831 by Lord Stanley, the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He established the National Education Board and obtained funds to build schools and establish a system of education. The RCC (particularly under Cardinal Paul Cullen) did not support the school system and over the years fought against it until 1863 when it outright banned attendance by Catholics and founded its own teacher training college. During the 1850’s the school system catered for only a quarter of 5 to 15 year olds, and made little impact on illiteracy until the 1880’s. Even as late as 1881 about 50% and in 1911 about 35% of pupils attended school for more than 100 days annually. Secondary schooling was even worse – the number of pupils in 1848 was 5,000, it doubled to 10,000 in 1878. It was not until the Irish Education Act of 1892 which made education free and mandatory for students between the ages of six and fourteen that progress was made. (Lots of statistics in the various reports of the Commissioners of Public Instruction in Ireland)
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The solution to the problem of homelessness (or poor housing) was not so easy, and it really took land reform plus government intervention in housing to address it, but it was addressed, and it could have been addressed sooner. We have to acknowledge that to a large extent the problem existed in the first place because of a thoroughly dysfunctional system of landlordism imposed and maintained by the government in the interets of a very narrow class.
Of course housing could have been addressed earlier, but that was not done anywhere in Europe. Bad housing was not particular to Ireland, it was the same across Europe, where every country had a dysfunctional system. The King (Geo III? Wm IV?) was opposed to Abolition because he maintained the slaves were living in better conditions than most of his subjects in Scotland! That is why there were revolts from late 1700’s to the mid 1800’s. It is worth noting that Dublin’s Wide Streets Commission of the 1750’s was a century before the French version (Haussmann’s work). But it was not governments anywhere who were first to solve the crisis in housing, it was philanthropy – e.g. Iveagh Trust and Dublin Artisan Dwelling Co . in Ireland. In France Social housing did not exist substantially until post WW2 (Les HLM) and tenancy/rent controls such as the Loi du ’47. Russia did not address the issue until long after WW1. The Irish Land Acts did commence here, pre 1900 but not so in England where most land still is held on tenancies, or in France (with the exception of the smallholdings of the paysans). So, there was no model for ‘repeal’ anywhere at the Famine era and any change would have been totally contrary to accepted international standards/social outlook of the era.
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Finally, it's worth noting that Ireland was not the only country to be afflicted by potato blight at the time. It also affected Belgium, France, the United States, Canada and other countries, and it's worth looking at how those countries responded. Obviously it was a bigger problem in Ireland, due to monoculture which focussed not just on one crop, but on one variety of one crop. The long term solution to this is obvious - agricultural diversity - and, for short-term solutions, it's worth looking at how other countries responded, as compared to how the UK government responded.
All know Ireland was not the only country to be affected by blight, but it was an outlier – a huge proportion of population here was entirely dependent on the potato whereas it formed a dietary supplement elsewhere. (Look at relative consumption levels in other countries.)

I’m not disagreeing with the criticism of government over their handling of the matter, I’m not saying they excelled, I’m again saying that in judging the handling of the Famine it must be assessed in a mid-18th C perspective. Easy to criticize, but no realistic proposals have been put forward.

Look at the economic question in today’s terms.
Let’s assume you have inherited a commercial centre that has been designed for 60 retail units. Sadly it is debt-ridden, repayments are heavily in arrears and because it was bequeathed to you there is an onus to pay support to siblings, who also are now in arrears. Your own family home is part of the security. The banks (plural because there are several mortgages) are on your back and want you to pay down the debt and work out a payment plan.
Commercial rates, insurance, etc., are being incurred at your cost. For several years you have reduced rents by up to 40% yet little rent has been received and for the last couple of years none was received so you are sinking deeper into debt. You decide to visit the property and discover that almost all the units have been subdivided and subdivided again. A typical example is tenant A who has a shop with integrated living accommodation – however, you discover he has given a room to each of his 3 sons (B,C,D) who have opened their own shops, married, had kids all now living in each of the three rooms. That’s four shops/families. Sub-tenants B, C and D are replicated in other units so you now probably have about 200 shops and families in a premises suited/designed for 50. Unfortunately all are competing for a limited number of customers so none are viable – economic survival is not possible and never will be.
Then your estate agent says to you – “There is a new premises opening across town with far greater business opportunities, why don’t we offer to pay all the B,C and D sub-tenants to go over there and we will also pay the moving costs and help them set up shop. That will allow us to reclaim our shops and make them economically viable by reducing the number of occupancies. It also will enable us to merge some to provide bigger units and bring in anchor tenants . It’s a win-win.
What would you do?

That effectively is the choice faced by the landed estates in the Famine.
(and of course too many ‘centres’ were unviable, a NAMA body (Encumbered Estates Court) was formed, the mortgage holders and owners took a bath and vulture funds (big merchants) bought them up on the cheap.
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10-12-2020, 19:35   #40
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Remember the last lot that came over and became "more Irish than the Irish themselves" so quickly that their rulers tried to impose anti-miscegenation and other cultural enforcement laws, on them so that they wouldn't "go native"?

Google the Statutes of Kilkenny if you don't know what I'm talking about.
Alas they weren't the last lot. The last lot did everything but assimilate and are a very good argument against mass immigration (even though I'm descended from them myself!)

I know the aul Statues well. I remember reading them on a pub wall in Waterford city and one of them was "Its an offence to call someone an Irishman"
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10-12-2020, 19:43   #41
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Mr Tator all the academics give multiple times the casualty figures you're giving. I suspect you might have read that Dutch crank called Nusteling out of Nijmegen. I noticed the same arguments on another Site a couple of days ago.
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10-12-2020, 22:40   #42
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Mr Tator all the academics give multiple times the casualty figures you're giving. I suspect you might have read that Dutch crank called Nusteling out of Nijmegen. I noticed the same arguments on another Site a couple of days ago.
I’ve no idea what you are talking about, nor have you named a source for ‘ all the academics’. However you dismiss my figures on the basis that you assume I got them from someone you describe as a crank. Until you come up with something better you cannot be taken seriously.

Nobody knows how many died after landing and dispersal but the figures I give are generaly accepted. There is a memorial stone further upriver from Grosse Ile at an old hospital site -
“To preserve from desecration the remains of 6,000 immigrants who died from ship fever AD 1847-48 this stone is erected by the workmen of Messrs. Peto, Brassey and Betts employed in the construction of the Victoria Bridge AD 1859.”

Two causes led to the high mortality rate of the ‘coffin ship’ passengers of 1847/48. (Coffin ship is a misnomer, but that is another argument.) The first is in some voyages that season there was pre-selection which ensured the weakest were sent overseas– for example Major Denis Mahon of Strokestown, Co. Roscommon evicted more than 3,000 tenants. At the same time he told his agent ‘I think the first class for us to send is those of the poorest and worst description, who would be a charge on us for the Poor House or for Outdoor Relief’ They sailed on ‘The Virginius’ from Liverpool, 28 May, a total of 476 passengers. Even while this ship was berthed in Liverpool, passengers sick with fever and dysentery came aboard and deaths occurred before the ship left the Mersey. One hundred fifty eight had died on the voyage, including the first and second officers, seven crew and the master and steward.

If you want to learn about Grosse Ile and emigrants to Canada I suggest you read the reports of Alexander Carlisle Buchanan, the British government’s appointee as chief agent “for the Superintendence of Emigration to [Lower and Upper] Canada.” He had lived in Quebec probably from 1833 until his death in 1868.

Another good read is Robert Whyte’s 1847 Famine Ship Diary (Cork 1994) [reprint of The Ocean Plague (Boston 1847)]. Whyte sailed as a cabin passenger from Newry and it's a description of the voyage.
Further reading is
T. Coleman, Passage to America (London 1972).
D. MacKay, Flight from Famine: the Coming of the Irish to Canada (Toronto 1990).
M. O’Gallagher & R. Dompierre, Eyewitness Grosse Ile 1847 (Quebec 1995)
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11-12-2020, 13:07   #43
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I just happened to be browsing this other Site and similar arguments were made in a post made around the same day as yours and I thought they might be connected. Apologies if this was not the case.

https://www.politicalirish.com/threa...;C3%B3r.38973/
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