Pulling down Houses

Sir Richard O'Donnell is the landlord in possession of most of the land there, and his "driver," like others akin to him, does strange things to the tenants, quite unknown to the landlord, who has been called humane.

But this fearless "driver " throws, or causes to be thrown down, cabin after cabin, and sometimes whole villages, of which it is said the landlord was entirely ignorant, but the pitiless storm heeded not that, and the poor starved exiles pleading that the cabin might be left a little longer, have no pity, their pot and even the cloak, which is the peasant woman's all by night and by day, has often been torn from her emaciated limbs, and sold at auction. Perhaps in no instance does the oppression of the poor, and the sighing of the needy come before the mind so vividly, as when going over the places made desolate by the famine, to see the tumbled cabins, with the poor hapless inmates, who had for years sat around their turf fire, and ate their potato together, now lingering and ofttimes wailing in despair, their ragged barefooted little ones clinging about them, one on the back of the weeping mother, and the father looking in silent despair, while a part of them are scraping among the rubbish to gather some little relic of mutual attachment—(for the poor, reader, have their tender remembrances)—then, in a flock, take their solitary, their pathless way to seek some rock or ditch, to encamp supperless for the night, without either covering for the head or the feet, with not the remnant of a blanket to spread over them in the ditch, where they must crawl. Are these solitary cases? Happy would it be were it so; but village upon village, and company after company have I seen; and one magistrate who was traveling informed me that at nightfall the preceding day, he found a company who had gathered a few sticks and fastened them into the ditch, and spread over what miserable rags they could collect (for the rain was fast pouring); and under these more than two hundred men, women, and children, were to crawl for the night. He alighted from his car, and counted more than two hundred; they had all that day been driven out, and not one pound of any kind of food was in the whole encampment!

When I went over desolate Erris, and saw the demolished cabins belonging to J. Walshe, I begged to know if all had died from that hamlet—"Worse than died," was the answer; for if they are alive, they are in sandbanks on the bleak sea-shore, or crowded into some miserable cabin for a night or two, waiting for death; they are lingering out the last hours of suffering. Oh! ye poor, ye miserable oppressors! what will ye do, when the day of God's wrath shall come? Have ye ever thought what "rock and mountain " ye can call upon to screen your naked heads, who would not here give the poor and hungry a shelter? When "the elements shall melt with fervent heat;" then shall the blaze of these ruins scorch and scathe you; yea, burn you up, if you do not now make haste to repent. Ye lords, when the Lord of lords, and God of gods, shall gird on his sword; then shall these poor be a swift witness against you. The widow and the fatherless ye have delighted to oppress, because they could not resist you, and yet you dare to call yourselves by the name of Him, whose mission was mercy, and who marks diligently the ways of him who delights in unjust gain, and is deaf to the cries of the widow and fatherless. Often, when looking at these wandering exiles, woful as is their case, yet my heart has said how much more woful is the case of him who drove you into the storm. Well might James say, "Go to, ye rich men, weep and howl;" and well did Christ pray—"Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Read "Annals of the Famine in Ireland" at your leisure

Annals of the Famine in Ireland

Read Annals of the Famine in Ireland at your leisure and help support this free Irish library.

This book still has the power to shock and sadden even though the events described are ever-receding further into the past. When you read, for example, of the poor widowed mother who was caught trying to salvage a few potatoes from her landlord's field, and what the magistrate discovered in the pot in her cabin, you cannot help but be apalled and distressed.

The text of this new edition has professionally been reset and an index added to the paperback.


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