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Global Legacies of the Great Irish Famine

Transnational and Interdisciplinary Perspectives


Edited By Marguerite Corporaal, Christopher Cusack, Lindsay Janssen and Ruud van den Beuken

The 150 th anniversary of Ireland’s Great Famine in the 1990s generated a significant increase in scholarship on the history of the crisis and its social and cultural aftermath. Two decades later, interest in the Irish Famine – both scholarly and popular – has soared once again. A key event in Irish cultural memory, the crisis still crops up regularly in public discourse within Ireland and among the Irish diaspora. This volume, containing essays by distinguished scholars such as Peter Gray, Margaret Kelleher and Chris Morash, offers new perspectives on the Famine and its contexts. Addressing the challenges and opportunities for Irish Famine studies today, the book presents a stimulating dialogue between a wide range of disciplinary approaches to the Famine and its legacies.
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Jonny Geber: Reconstructing Realities: Exploring the Human Experience of the Great Famine through Archaeology


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Reconstructing Realities: Exploring the Human Experience of the Great Famine through Archaeology

The veracity of the horrors of the Great Irish Famine became evident in 2006. That year, an archaeological excavation within the premises of the former union workhouse in Kilkenny City exposed an intramural mass burial ground containing a minimum of 970 individuals. The excavated area was located within the north-eastern corner of the workhouse grounds and comprised sixty-three large pits in which the dead had been placed in coffins that were stacked on top of each other.1 These burials took place between August 1847 and March 1851, some of the worst years of the Famine, during which there was severe overcrowding and, consequently, mass death in the Kilkenny workhouse. The decision to resort to intramural burials was controversial but inevitable. Prior to this, the city cemeteries of St Patrick and St Maul had been used, but these eventually became so critically full that they started to pose a significant health risk to the city’s wider population. The Board of Guardians actively sought a suitable plot of land for an official workhouse cemetery, and when they succeeded, intramural burials were immediately discontinued.2 The mass burial ground was eventually covered over and the plot put to another use. By the time of its excavation ← 139 | 140 → 160 years later, all local knowledge of its existence had been lost and the discovery was therefore completely unanticipated.

The excavation of the...

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