Arrangements for the Famine of 1848 - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

« previous page | book contents | start of this chapter | next page »

dilapidated "agitation," his mode of persuading his followers to support him in any given measure, was, to threaten that he would raise his father's bones, and carry them away to the land where his heart is treasured.

In the year 1847, great and successful exertions were used to make sure that the next year should be a year of famine too. This was effected mainly by holding out the prospect of "outdoor relief"—to obtain which tenants must abandon their lands and leave them untilled. A paragraph from a letter of Rev. Mr Fitzpatrick, parish priest of Skibbereen, contains within it an epitome of the history of that year. It was published in the Freeman, March 12:—

"The ground continues unsown and uncultivated. There is a mutual distrust between the landlord and the tenant. The landlord would wish, if possible, to get up his land; and the unfortunate tenant is anxious to stick to it as long as he can. A good many, however, are giving it up, and preparing for America; and these are the substantial farmers who have still a little means left."

A gentleman travelling from Borris-in-Ossory to Kilkenny, one bright spring morning, counts at both sides of the road, in a distance of twenty-four miles, "nine men and four ploughs" occupied in the fields; but sees multitudes of wan labourers, "beyond the power of computation by a mail-car passenger," labouring to destroy the road he was travelling upon. It was a "public work."—(Dublin Evening Mail).

In the same month of March—"The land," says the Mayo Constitution, "is one vast waste: a soul is not to be seen working on the holdings of the poor farmers throughout the country; and those who have had the prudence to plough or dig the ground are in fear of throwing in the seed."

When the new "Outdoor Relief" Act began to be applied, with its memorable Quarter-acre Clause, all this process went on with wonderful velocity, and millions of people were soon left landless and homeless. That they should be left landless and homeless was strictly in accordance with British policy; but then there was danger of the millions of outcasts becoming robbers and murderers. Accordingly, the next point was to clear the country of them, and diminish the poor-rates, by emigration. This is a matter somewhat interesting to Americans, so that I must give a clear account of it. If one should narrate how the cause of his country was stricken down in open battle, and blasted to pieces with shot and shell, there might be a certain mournful pride in dwelling upon the gallant resistance, as in the case of our Irish wars against Cromwell, against King ...continue reading »

« previous page | book contents | start of this chapter | next page »

Page 138