Irish Famine Report from Waterford, 1847

Extract from Report of Waterford Auxiliary Committee to the Central Relief Committee in Dublin.

16th of Second-month, 1847.

Since our appointment, most of the districts within a range of ten or fifteen miles of this city, where it was believed distress prevailed, have been visited, or appointments are now made for that purpose. As a general remark, perhaps the result of their operations might be stated by saying that distress increases. As I mentioned in a former letter, great misery prevails in the district around Bunmahon; where, I fear, not a few lives have been lost from the effects of an inadequate supply of food. The district which lies at the foot of the Cummeragh mountains appears also to have suffered much. Our main object has been the establishment of soup-kitchens, and in most of the places we have visited, these have either been got to work, or are in course of being established. The public seem now more generally to recognise the advantage of this mode of supplying food in a ready-cooked form; and where it has been adopted, the effects of this nutritious diet become visible, more particularly in the improved appearance of the children, and its general tendency to check those diseases which arise from unwholesome or inadequate food.

Our remark as to the increase of distress applies to this city also. We have determined to increase the daily supply from the establishment under our own care, though it already much exceeds what was at first contemplated; we think that the quantity of soup given out in this city weekly, gratuitously, or at reduced prices, is about 9,000 quarts, with about 12,000 lbs. of bread; a considerable quantity of fuel and straw for bedding has also been supplied. Still, it is evident that all that can be done is inadequate to meet the prevailing distress; and almost every day adds to the number of poor creatures, who seek refuge here from the surrounding country, and whose famine stricken appearance too evidently indicates the sufferings they have experienced.

Soup establishments have been opened in several places in this district, and others are in progress of formation. The visits of our Committee have much facilitated their organization, and the public generally are beginning more fully to appreciate their advantages. I am sorry to say the distress is much on the increase; large numbers flocking in from the country, and many necessitated to solicit assistance, who but a short time since were considered independent.