Visit to Balinrobe Workhouse

The curate shall be dismissed after one more allusion to his ever-awake zeal in all and everything. The poorhouse in Balinrobe did not exactly suit his notions of justice to the inmates. He called upon the guardians and apprised them that a fearless scrutinizing friend to the poor, from the United States, was visiting all the "soup-shops " and "workhouses " in Ireland, and was "showing up" the dishonesty practiced among them, by taking notes, which were printed for the information of government. Not suspecting that my name had gone before, in the innocence of my heart my way was made thither, and I was happily disappointed at finding the house in such excellent order, officers and servants were all at their posts, and everything done to make the visit most agreeable, yet there was such an appearance of affectation in the whole that thoughts did arise whether in reality all was so. The purloining of the public benefactions since the famine, has given so much cause for suspicion, that all whose hands are not thoroughly clean, shrink from observation.

The guardians of the poor in Ireland will have a sad account to render at the last, in many cases, it is greatly to be feared. Feeding the poor on two scanty meals of miserable food, when there are funds sufficient, has been the accusation which has proved too true in many parts, and has operated so powerfully upon the inmates, that when once out they have chosen death out-of-doors rather than going in again.

I found some few hungry men on my way putting a few potatoes in a field, and inquired why they should lose their potatoes and their time in this hopeless undertaking? The answer was, "Plaise God we'll have the potato again." The "potato again," is the last wreck to which they are still clinging.

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.