Famine in Schull, County Cork

Taken from Realities of Irish Life (1868) by W. Steuart Trench

The following letters, written in March, 1847, will afford some idea of the scenes which must have occurred along the south-western coast of Ireland, where no attempts were made, similar to those made by the Rev. F. F. Trench, to save the lives of the people.


‘CLOGHJORDAN, March 22, 1847.

‘SIR—My attention was first directed to the famine in Schull by Captain Caffin’s letter. It was painful to myself and others to think that within two or three days’ journey from our homes thousands of our fellow-creatures should be dying of absolute starvation.

‘We felt that though there were multitudes around us suffering most severely from insufficiency of food, yet that there was an immeasurable distance between their state and that of persons dying from extreme hunger. It was therefore proposed that I should visit those localities with a view to administering such relief as appeared most judicious and practicable. I accordingly did so, and have just returned.

‘And as the testimony of an eyewitness totally unconnected with the county of Cork by property or family relations, may possibly gain the attention of some who may disregard the representations of those whose interests and feelings are more closely bound up with those places, I think it my duty to make the public still better acquainted with the present condition of the poor in those parts; and I do so the more readily, because I do not accede to the often repeated statement that the evil is irremediable and beyond the reach of human aid. When I have described the existing state of things I shall venture to propose the adoption of a measure which has not as yet been tried in those districts, but which has been successfully tried elsewhere (and which has preserved life and health to a great degree) at the cost of three halfpence per day for each person.

‘The account which Captain Caffin gave of what he saw at Schull seemed too dreadful to be true, but there is one broad and astounding fact which indisputably proves that it was far, very far, below the truth, and that is that every family which Captain Caffin visited, and of which he writes, was a Protestant family. Dr. Traill, the rector of the parish, and Rev. Mr. McCabe, the curate, stated this to me. Now, it is well known, that in every part of Ireland the Protestants are a wealthier class than the Roman Catholics. If here, then, the Protestants are in the state which Captain Caffin describes, what must be the condition of the Roman Catholics? Dr. Traill himself said to me, after returning to the hovels to which he accompanied me—“until to-day I did not know the real state of the people.”

‘In travelling through the parishes of East and West Schull, containing the villages of Ballydehob and Schull, and a population of about 16,000 still living, I did not see a child playing in the streets or on the roads; no children are to be seen outside the doors but a few sick and dying children. I made this same remark in Bantry, and along the road for twenty miles leading to it. I did not see a child in the streets, and this I remarked to several persons, clergy and magistrates, whose experience was the same as my own.

‘In the districts which are now being depopulated by starvation, coffins are only used for the more wealthy. In every village the manufacture was remarkable at the doors of the carpenters’ houses, and in the country parts I often met coffins carried on the backs of women, and boards for making coffins. At Glengariff, strange to say, the Roman Catholic Chapel is turned into a place for making coffins. Seeing two men at work there, I went in, in company with Rev. Mr. Morgan, the curate of the parish. I said to one of the carpenters, “What are you making, boys?” “Coffins and wheelbarrows, Sir;” and I saw the planks marked out for the sawyer to the length of coffins. At Bantry, I saw lying at the corner of one of the streets, two coffins for the use of the poor; they call them “trap coffins;” the bottom is supported by hinges at one side, and a hook and eye at the other. In these coffins the poor are carried to the grave, or rather to a large pit, which I saw at a little distance from the road, and the bodies are dropped into it. On my return to the spot where I first saw these two coffins, I found them occupied with corpses, and placed on a car about to be drawn by a horse to the grave. Another coffin of the same kind had been sent in another direction for another body; but I was told in this district the majority were taken to the grave without any coffin, and buried in their rags: in some instances even the rags are taken from the corpse to cover some still living body; but in the neighbourhood and parish of Schull, coffins are not thought of by the very poor, and funerals are unknown amongst them. At Ballydehob, Mr. and Miss Noble both informed me that on the morning of the day I arrived, they had seen five dead bodies carried through the village in a cart with a little straw under and over them.

‘That bodies are left in the fields for weeks unburied is a matter perfectly certain, and also that they have been left unburied in houses so long that they have been eaten by rats, and indeed so long that they could not be buried, and it became necessary to burn the houses over the bodies.

‘Captain Harston (the commander who brought the “Eclaire” from Africa), the agent of the British Relief Association, informed me that on Sunday, March 7, he had seen a woman with a basket on her back, and the crooked corpse of a child fastened outside it. In company with Dr. Traill, the Rector of Schull, I met Dr. McCormick, the dispensary physician of the parish of Kilmoe; he stated that on Tuesday, March 9, he had met a man, a father, tottering along the road—a rope was over his shoulder, and at the other end of the rope, streeling along the ground, were two dead children, whom he was with difficulty dragging to the grave!!

‘Mr. O’Callaghan, of Kilmanus, informed me that he used the meal bags for burying the people; graves are frequently made in ditches, and corners of the fields, and in the gardens behind the cabins. I saw in one garden, not far from Ballydehob, close to the mail-coach road, two graves in a garden—one large, in which I was told were three bodies, the smaller one in which there were two bodies; and the house had been burned, in consequence of the whole family, nine in number, having died in it of fever.

‘After public worship on Sunday, March 14, I met the Ballydehob Relief Committee. As I had so little time at my command, and remembering our Lord’s instruction—that it is lawful to save life on the Sabbath day—I asked the committee to meet me, and received their fullest and most cordial approval of my plan of establishing eating-houses in the more remote districts of the parish. We made arrangements whereby the duplicate of funds given for this purpose would be secured from Government. The rules for the conduct of the eating-houses were stated by me; and the Protestant minister and the Roman Catholic priest were constituted a sub-committee to carry them into execution, pledging themselves to the observance of the rules in the strictest manner. I then proceeded to Cappagh, which is a coast-guard station, in the midst of a starving population, which had been collected round mines which are not now worked. It was proposed to establish the first eating-house in this place. On the evening before, I had heard of a boy living on the road to Cappagh, who had seen a dog tearing the head, and neck, and ribs of a man. I wished to learn the truth of this from the boy himself. He told me that the fact was so, and that his little brother had on another occasion seen another dog tearing the head of a man. The younger boy remarked that he had seen the remains of the head the day before in an adjoining field. I asked him to lead me to the spot, which he did, and I there found a part of the human head and under-jaw, gnawed, but marked with blood. I placed it under ground.

‘On arriving at Cappagh I found the coast-guard and his wife (a tidy little Englishwoman) placed under circumstances almost as pitiable as the poorest of those who surrounded her, inasmuch as she was daily witnessing absolute starvation without the means of relieving it. Within a few yards of the coast-guard house were three families which I saw starving to death. Moore, the coast-guard, told me that he had buried numbers of bodies himself—that he was obliged to do so in self-defence, for fear that they should breed a pestilence. In the first house I entered I saw a dead child lying in a corner of the house, and two children pale as death, with their heads hanging down upon their breasts sitting by a small fire. Mrs. Moore, who accompanied me into the house, told me the sad history of the family. The father had died on the road coming home from work. One of the children, a lad seventeen years of age, had been found in the absence of his mother who was looking for food, lying dead, with his head leaning on the hob close to the fire, and with his legs held out of the fire by the little child which I then saw lying dead. Two other children had also died. The mother and the two children still alive had lived on one dish of barley for the last four days. For these famished children I obtained from Mrs. Moore a cake of brown bread, and sent it to them by the mother. In about a minute after I entered the house again, to see whether they were eating this cake voraciously, and found the children sitting in the same posture. I feared they had not got the bread, but they had devoured it. I questioned them closely—asked them what colour it was. The child who replied said it was black; it was coarse brown bread.

‘In the next house which I entered I learned that the father a few days before had been found dead at a turf clamp, where he had gone for turf; the mother had buried one child (as they said) off her back, meaning that she carried the child on her back to the grave; and I saw three others apparently dying. In the third house I entered there was a family—a father, mother, and five children—all of whom were dying slowly of simple weakness, the consequence of hunger: half a stone of meal a week was their sole support. The man said he knew they were all dying; he said their appetites were all good, and they had no sickness. After administering some little present relief, and having had in some degree cheered these families by the hope that food would be brought within their reach, I proceeded about four miles to Schull. I shall now state what I saw immediately in and around the village of Schull, together with cursory observations made by Dr. Sweetman.

‘In order to understand aright the position in which I was placed during the time when the remarks which I am about to relate were made, I should mention that Rev. Dr. Traill (the rector of the parish), Rev. Mr. McCabe (the curate), Dr. Sweetman, and myself, were going from house to house, and occasionally standing in the street or road, surrounded by hundreds of clamorous beggars and wretched objects, many of them with evidently dying children in their arms. We went into three houses close to each other, and more dreadful objects I never saw. Dr. Sweetman said, “Now, nothing can recover those you saw; they must all die. Sir, the people die unconsciously to themselves; they are foolishly delirious; they die before your eyes. The pulse does not average fifty; there is water between it and your hand. Look down the street—you need not select any house—and it’s worse in the country.” This I afterwards found to be the case.

‘On entering another house the doctor said, “Look there, Sir, you can’t tell whether they are boys or girls.” Taking up a skeleton child, he said, “Here is the way it is with them all; their legs swing and rock like the legs of a doll,” and I saw that it was so in this instance. “Sir, they have the smell of mice.” After I had seen a great number of these miserable objects, the doctor said, “Now, Sir, there is not a child you saw can live for a month; every one of them are in famine fever, a fever so sticky that it never leaves them.”

‘Rev. Dr. Traill and Dr. Sweetman both told me that there were not one hundred out of the three thousand families in Schull parish which could command their breakfast the next morning. I said to Dr. Sweetman, “If you were on your oath in a court of justice would you say so?” “I would say so if I was before the judgment-seat of Christ: there are no exceptions; east, west, north or south, it is all the same.” The police officer, Mr. Garney, was present. I said to him, “Do you, Sir, believe that statement, that there are not a hundred families in the parish of Schull who can command a breakfast of their own independently of charity to-morrow?” He replied, “There are not fifty.” Pointing to what might be called the outline of a fine young man in the crowd, Dr. Sweetman said, “There, Sir, is the remains of fever and dysentery”—this was a very affecting case, the young man was foolish. Again—“There is a woman, and finer curly-haired children than hers were not in the Queen’s dominions; now they are all gone, husband and children, and see what she is.” “Here is a man, and there is no perceptible motion at all in his pulse.” Soon after the Doctor said, “There is a man, his child died last night—he is unable to dig his grave; I sent my man to dig it” I asked had he any coffin, and was answered, “Oh no;” and then turning to the man himself he said, “And you will die surely, my poor man,” meaning that he could not live many days.

‘The above details, though neither the worst, nor one-fifth part of those which I have to give, are sufficient, perhaps too much, for the present. I hasten to state the remedy which I propose, and what I have done towards it.

‘The new poor law[1] is designed to be as complete a remedy as possible; but until it is in full operation, which may not be for a considerable time, the people must die by thousands.

‘The remedy which I propose is the establishment of eating-houses within reach of those upon whom disease has not as yet made mortal inroads.

‘The sending of a sufficient number of suitable agents to arrange for, or if necessary manage, those eating-houses; and physicians should be sent to prescribe the food and medicine which is necessary for them. This would cost large sums of money; but if the rich could be assured it would save life, the required sums would be given.

‘It appears to me that eating-houses, where a meal of wholesome substantial food might be given daily to all who were certified in danger of perishing from hunger, would be the cheapest and surest plan of preventing starvation. Soup may be anything, everything, or nothing; it may be thin gruel or greasy water, and I have tasted it of both descriptions; or it may be the essence of meat, and very wholesome where there is some substantial food taken with it; but when given to those who have nothing else to use with it, and who often expend, by coming miles for it, more strength than the soup restores, it is very inefficient for sustaining life. But there can be no mistake about a meal of substantial Indian meal stirabout or porridge; and I know that one meal daily of this food so given to the poor, who have been obliged to come clean and partake of it, has preserved life and health to a great degree, and does not cost more than 1½d. per day.

‘In none of the districts where I was did the case appear to me to be desperate; there was no want of food in any place (delightful consideration!) nor want of medicine, but there was the most deplorable want of available agency, and a consequent want of suitable measures to bring the food and the medicine within the reach of the people.

‘Take for example the one parish of Schull (and there are many like it). Here there are scarcely any gentry and none rich. What can one physician do amongst 18,000 people in such a state (and oats for his horse so dear)? What can the ordinary number of local clergy do in such an extensive district? They cannot visit one-tenth part of the sick, even if they had horses, and oats to feed them, which some of them have not. Can Dr. Traill be expected to carry meal to the people in the mountains across the pummel of his saddle, as he has done? Can Mr. McCabe, the curate, be expected to push in the door and look for a vessel, and wash the vessel previous to putting a drink into it for the sick, who were unable to rise, as he has done? But let there be provided a sufficient staff of fit men to prescribe for the sick, and to place cooked food within the reach of the poor, and I feel confident that the supply of money that the public have proved themselves ready to give would pay for all, and so prevent absolute starvation, and restore health in many instances.

‘It does appear to me that without any special interposition of divine power the plague might be stayed, and “the dearth and scarcity” easily turned, not, indeed into “cheapness” (for man cannot create food), but “into plenty,” for the preservation of human life.

‘I shall add, that I made arrangements with the local clergy and the relief committees for the opening of four or five such eating-houses.

‘By cooperation with the clergy and the relief committees I have the prospect of a duplicate from Government of every sum which my friends have entrusted to my care. I have sent my lay assistant from my own parish, who has been conversant with the details of the management of such eating-houses, to assist in immediately carrying out the arrangements made; and I have requested Evory Kennedy, Esq., M.D., to select a physician, who shall immediately go to Schull, and act under the directions of the local clergy.

‘I only add, that the case is literally, and to the eye of sense as well as of faith, a case of life and death; and I feel that relief should be sent with the speed with which a reprieve is conveyed to the malefactor about to be executed.

‘We may indulge a hope that the new poor law will ere very long be in full operation. I am sure the Government is doing all it can to expedite matters, but in the meantime it is to be feared that the loss of life will be dreadful. Here is a case indeed where it may be said—

Bis dat qui cito dat.


‘Perpetual Curate of Cloghjordan.

‘P.S.—Since writing the above I have waited on Mr. Redington and Sir J. Burgoyne, and feel assured that no time will be lost in bringing the new law into operation. But the arrangements are complicated, and the lives of thousands depend on what is done now.’

‘CLOGHJORDAN, April 2, 1847.

‘SIR—You occupied a large portion of your paper on a former occasion with my statement relative to the southwest of the county of Cork. I ask permission to make a further statement concerning what I witnessed pursuing my course through the village of Schull, and the straggling houses surrounding it, accompanied by Dr. Traill and the Rev. Mr. McCabe, the curate, and Dr. Sweetman, physican. In one house which I entered Dr. Sweetman proceeded into a dark corner, and feeling with his hand, told me there were six in the bed—father, mother, and four children, all unable to rise—but I was particularly struck with the question which the doctor put to the poor people, when he was feeling for them in the bed, “Are there any dead here?” None were actually dead at that time, but one had died.

‘In another house we entered there were four in fever, two having died, and the doctor said to me, “The father, he will be down in fever before Thursday, though gone to make his appearance on the road.”[2]

‘In another house (Minahan’s), I saw the father lying dead, his wife and sick daughter only remained.

‘In another house, without a door, I saw a dying man, who had been taken off the roads, a dying woman, and a boy sitting with his legs burst with dropsy.

‘In another house I saw a sick man who had a peculiarly foetid smell, which Dr. Sweetman remarked to me. Mr. Limerick, J.P., told me afterwards that the doctor had given directions that the man should be buried instantly upon his death, as otherwise it would be impossible to bury him. In the same conversation, at Dr. Traill’s house, Mr. Limerick told me that one day he had employed thirty-five men (who were on the roads)[2a] in gangs of four or five to bury the dead.

‘Going to the next cabin, pointing to a woman who met us, the doctor said, “Now, there’s a woman actually in fever, the other members of the family are all worse than her; she had no messenger to send for anything.” While I was in company with Mr. McCabe on this occasion, he gave two tickets to women to get work on the roads in place of their husbands who had died; telling me at the same time, that as Secretary to the Relief Committee, he had altered in the course of the last eight days in a hundred instances the names of the men who had died to the names of their wives, and that in that space of time there had been six cases in which he had altered the name from the father to the son, and from the son to the widow, and from the widow to the daughter, all having died.

‘In this morning’s walk, which occupied between two and three hours, Dr. Traill and I calculated that I had entered between thirty and forty houses, and that I had seen about 120 sick persons.

‘Several dreadful and affecting anecdotes were related to me, the repetition of which would serve no good purpose. One I may relate, descriptive merely of the character of the things to which I allude. Mr. McCabe mentioned that he had seen a child lying upon the bosom of the dead father, and in that position the child died twelve hours after; and that the remnant of that family, six in number, were now dying.

‘There is a degree of filth amongst the people here which I had never seen elsewhere—not only dunghills before the door, but dunghills close to the door, and several feet higher than the level of the threshold of the door. In many of the houses straw was scattered over the whole of the floor, and the people lived, I may say, exactly like pigs in a stye, with the worst possible filth in the houses. And one house (the abominable filth of which was particularly observable) was one of those which had been previously visited and mentioned by name in Captain Caffin’s letter.

‘Feeling that there was no use in witnessing more of this misery, I turned back. In doing so a house at a little distance was pointed out to me as having eight persons lying sick in it. I went to it, and on entering, found six lying sick on straw, or rather dung, and one man walking about the picture of death, and, I was told, dying.

‘But before I leave off my record of misery in this one spot I again say that all this evil is not irremediable. I remarked to Mr. McCabe, “This ought to be a healthy place” (it is situated at the end of a pretty little bay surrounded by rocks). “Yes, Sir,” Mr. McCabe replied, “and there is a great rally for life here; a drink of rice milk gives great strength. A poor woman to whom I gave some rice said, ‘I was weak yesterday; I feel strong today.’” Mr. McCabe has had the pleasure of seeing convalescent families, and had seen that day one poor woman combing her hair, and in her right mind, who had been delirious in fever a few days before.

‘In the afternoon of the same day I proceeded, in company with the Rev. Mr. McCabe, to Keelbronogue, a district which was stated to be famishing and requiring an eating-house. On my way thither I met Captain Harston, the agent of the British Association, and he kindly turned about and accompanied me. When we arrived at Keelbronogue we met the Roman Catholic priest of the parish, Mr. Barry; and he also kindly proposed to go with me and give me any information in his power. I asked Mr. Barry to point out to me the most distressed houses. He said, “In every direction it is all the same.”

‘In the first house I entered there was a man lying in fever, and wife and child sitting up. I found the door shut. A young man who lived near told me that he had not seen the door open except once or twice in the last fortnight. There was a can of water near the bed: four of the family had died. The sick people said they had eaten nothing and expected nothing that day. I immediately sent to a farmer’s house, at a little distance, for some oatenmeal, and gave some to them and took the remainder with me.

‘In the second house I entered (Patrick Driscoll’s) there were eight in family; three sick; one man lay dead beside the fire. I asked did he die of fever? “No, Sir, of starvation,” was the reply.

‘Third house (Regan). Here I heard the groaning of a sick and (I was told) a dying man. The place was so dark I did not go in far. Eight in family; pictures of death. Two girls and a young child said they had eaten nothing all day. Mr. Barry said he had been a decent farmer.

‘Fourth house (Widow Driscoll). Here I saw a young man. He was groaning, and as it appeared to me in the agony of death. There were five in family. They said they had eaten nothing since Saturday, i.e. for two days and a half. They were all sick; all were swelled; and the gentlemen with me said, “None of them can live.”

‘Fifth house (Mat Sullivan). We knocked here. None were able to open the door. Two very young children sitting by the fire, and two lying pale as death.

‘Sixth house (Widow Cunningham). She had buried her husband and three of her children. She had been ill for eight weeks. Her last boy had taken fever the day before. She had no one to go for anything now. The last drink she got was a jug of water from a woman going along the road, and knew not where the next was to come from.

‘Seventh house (Phil. Regan). He had died, and the widow was dying. Three children had died. She was awfully swelled.

‘Eighth house (Paddy Ryan). Eight, all sick. One had died. Child scarcely able to open the door.

‘Ninth house (Charles Regan). Of eleven only three remaining. We had met the woman of this house on the road and she accompanied us to most of the houses. When we arrived at her cabin she said, “I have within a fine young man, of nineteen years of age, and you could carry him in the palm of your hand.” I entered, and saw a bundle of skin and bone naked, and partly wrapped up in a blanket, sitting by the fire. The mother said, “Sir, we have no sickness, but hunger.”

‘I had seen enough. These houses were not all in a row, but scattered in the fields and along the roadside. I did not pass by a single house. Turning round, I said to Mr. Barry, the Roman Catholic curate, “Are the houses I see lower down as bad?” He said, “They are, Sir; and all along the place; they are in fact worse below; it is more populous; I have come from a house there, in which I saw two stretched.” But being quite as tired in mind and body as I ought to be, I did not proceed farther, and returned to the hospitable dwelling of Doctor Traill. I need say no more respecting the extent of the evil at present; I come to the remedy.

‘I solicit free contributions of personal service from intelligent and devoted men. Money I know will be required to keep such men at work, but we want MEN now to make the money which we have work in the most effective manner for the preservation of the lives of the people.

‘The confidence which I expressed in my last communication that the rich were willing to contribute whatever funds were necessary has been more than realised. One subscriber sends 100l.; another has allowed me to draw upon his purse to an unlimited extent; another subscriber sent me so much that I thought it right to decline receiving more than half the subscription. Another subscriber of 10l. says, “The slightest intimation will bring a similar sum.” Under these circumstances, I ask for the free contribution of the personal services of a few intelligent men, who heartily recognise and sincerely endeavour to love God supremely, and their neighbour as themselves. Those who have money at their disposal have contributed most liberally. Let those who have time at their disposal do likewise; their business should be to assist the committee and clergy in superintending the management of the eating-houses, to see that the food was properly cooked and properly distributed, that none but proper objects received it, and to see that the regulations were observed, that the accounts of the expenditure were daily kept, and that there was no waste incurred in any department. We would gladly pay the travelling and all other expenses of any gentleman fit for this work, and willing to engage in it; and in order to avoid all unnecessary delay, Evory Kennedy, Esq. M.D., 27 Merrion Square, and Sir E. Waller, Bart., 13 Waterloo Road, are authorised at once to accept the proffered service of any gentleman whom they may consider qualified for the task.—I remain, dear Sir, yours faithfully and obliged,


Extract of a letter from the Rev. Richard Chenevix Trench, Professor of Divinity in King’s College, London, and now Archbishop of Dublin, to the Rev. F. F. Trench:—

‘I have just returned from Killbronogue. All is progressing there most satisfactorily. Excellent order kept, all your rules observed, and had not this day been rainy, nothing could have been pleasanter than the sight of the 200 or more eating their food, certainly with thankfulness to men, I trust also with thankfulness to God. But they did not seem to mind the rain, and we got the children under cover.

‘To-morrow a neighbouring townland, Rossbrin, is to be taken into the system: about a hundred Rossbrinites will be fed by an earlier distribution from the Kilbronogus boiler. They are now dying there, as they did at Killbronogue before the eating-house was established. I know not what is to be done with Ballydehob; the mass of wild fierce hunger there is almost unmanageable. We shall be spending (and economically and honestly spending) I cannot think much less than 100l., weekly. Some imposture must and will creep in, for everything is obliged to be done in somewhat of a rough manner, but many lives will be saved; and what Dr. Sweetman said to-night—“This is the first efficient plan for feeding the people which has been in the parish”—will, with all drawbacks, remain true. This is a matter to thank God for.

‘I found the distress not deeper (for that had been impossible) but quite as deep and far wider, covering a vaster extent of territory than from your letter I had gathered. When, however, I left, in the middle of last week, there were already eight or nine eating-houses in active operation, and new ones opening every day. These, at which severally from 300 to 500 or 600 were being fed, relieved an immense amount of misery, and yet left vast regions, even in these two parishes alone, which were as yet untouched.

‘I visited several of the stations and witnessed the distribution of the food, which in every case was either nutritious stirabout, or excellent biscuit. “There would not be twenty of us alive here but for this,” said a woman to me in one place; and Mr. Kennedy observed to me how wonderful was the alteration already visible in the looks of those who partook of the food. The mortality, too, though it had not ceased (for many who were death-stricken before the eating-houses were opened, could not be saved by them), yet had been arrested, and we might humbly hope the famine would have in those districts at least no new victims. Altogether, I saw enough to show me that very much is being done, and being effectually done; but that as yet things are very, very far from the point we aim at—namely, that “every destitute person in these parishes shall have a meal of wholesome food within their reach daily.” There is all zeal on the part of those engaged with you in this work on the spot to hasten such a consummation; and I see no reason why, through God’s blessing, and through many and large efforts, it may not be attained.’

‘Before I conclude I wish to mention the very small cost of these eating-houses. I have before me the returns of five of the eating-houses, and I find that 9,409 substantial meals have been given at an average cost of less than 1¼d. each! and at that trifling daily cost for food, I believe that the Lord will enable us to save life to whatever extent funds may be entrusted to our care. The agency which is essentially necessary, and for want of which, more than for want of food, life was lost, will necessarily cost much. But supposing the agency to be fully provided, the food wherewith we can save the lives of our “neighbours,” and preserve them also in tolerable health, does not cost more than 1¼d. daily. The lives of the people in that district seem to be marvellously given into our hands, and who can tell what a blessed influence our charity may have upon their spiritual welfare! Yes, while deprecating in the strongest possible manner the holding out of any carnal inducements to the reception of spiritual good, and while loathing from my innermost soul the iniquity of holding out an inducement to the miserable to do that to which their poverty and not their will might consent—still I say, who can tell the extent to which in this very district the Saviour’s word may be ultimately fulfilled—“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven!”

‘I have this morning received copies of letters from Schull addressed by Doctors Lamprey and Sweetman to the Board of Health, asking for more food and medicine. This I have pledged myself to supply.

‘I intend, if the Lord will, to go to Schull on Monday next, and the extent to which new arrangements may be made for saving life must depend upon the amount of funds which are placed at my disposal.

‘In my last letter I intimated that I wanted men more than money. The men have been provided (and I have more men ready to engage in the work)—I now want more money; for, as my valued brother, the Rev. Richard Trench, has intimated, I did not know the vast extent of the misery when I wrote my last letter—to use his own expression, “Wherever he tapped it he found it all the same.”

‘For the information of my English friends I mention that Cloghjordan is a post town, to which place all communications made to me should be addressed.

‘I remain, dear Sir, yours faithfully and obliged,


‘Perpetual Curate of Cloghjordan.

‘P.S.—April 23.—I deeply regret to say that I have just heard of the death of Dr. Traill, Rector of Schull. He was “pressed above measure,” and “beyond strength,” and doubtless “his reward was on high.”’


[1] The Irish Poor Relief Act was then in its infancy. W. S. T.

[2] Relief works.