Statistics on Ireland during the Famine Years - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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and desire of liberty," as Lord Mountjoy expressed it, shall once more stir their souls (as once more it certainly will), why, the British Government can crush them again, with greater ease than ever; for the small farmers are destroyed; the middle classes are extensively corrupted; and neither stipendiary officials nor able-bodied paupers ever make revolutions.

This very dismal and humiliating narrative draws to a close. It is the story of an ancient nation stricken down by a war more ruthless and sanguinary than any seven years' war, or thirty years' war, that Europe ever saw. No sack of Madgeburg, or ravage of the Palatinate, ever approached in horror and desolation to the slaughters done in Ireland by mere official red tape and stationery, and the principles of political economy. A few statistics may fitly conclude this dreary subject.

The Census of Ireland, in 1841, gave a population of 8,175,125. At the usual rate of increase, there must have been, in 1846, when the famine commenced, at least eight and a half millions; at the same rate of increase, there ought to have been, in 1851 (according to the estimate of the Census Commissioners), 9,018,799. But in that year, after five seasons of artificial famine, there were found alive only 6,552,385—a deficit of about two millions and a half. Now, what became of those two million and a half?

The "government" Census Commissioners, and compilers of returns of all sorts, whose principal duty it has been, since that fatal time, to conceal the amount of the havoc, attempt to account for nearly the whole deficiency by emigration. In Thom's Official Almanac, I find set down on one side the actual decrease from 1841 to 1851 (that is, without taking into account the increase by births in that period), 1,623,154. Against this, they place their own estimate of the emigration during those same ten years, which they put down at 1,589,133. But, in the first place, the decrease did not begin till 1846—there had been till then a rapid increase in the population: the government returns, then, not only ignore the increase, but set the emigration of ten years against the depopulation of five. This will not do: we must reduce their emigrants by one-half, say to six hundred thousand—and add to the depopulation the estimated increase up to 1846, say half a million. This will give upwards of two millions whose disappearance is to be accounted for—and six hundred thousand emigrants in the other column. Balance unaccounted for, a million and a half.

This is without computing those who were born in the five ...continue reading »

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