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Global Legacies of the Great Irish Famine

Transnational and Interdisciplinary Perspectives

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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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Paul S. Ell, Niall Cunningham and Ian N. Gregory: No Spatial Watershed: Religious Geographies of Ireland Pre- and Post-Famine

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PAUL S. ELL, NIALL CUNNINGHAM AND IAN N. GREGORY

No Spatial Watershed: Religious Geographies of Ireland Pre- and Post-Famine

The Great Irish Famine of the late 1840s was the last major famine to affect Western Europe and remains one of the worst in modern world history. The geography of the Famine has received, albeit belatedly, the attention it deserves over recent years.1 Over the twenty years from 1841 to 1861, Ireland’s population, which had been rising rapidly, fell by 30 per cent primarily due to death and emigration. Population decline continued in the longer term to be followed by stagnation, such that even a century and a half later, Ireland’s population had not returned to its pre-Famine peak. Traditional narratives on the Famine have viewed it as a catastrophe that uniquely affected the Catholic population. This narrative has suited both sides of the religious divide. To Catholics it was proof of British misrule, while to Protestants it was a sign of divine providence, testament to their superior ‘character’ in terms of industry, virtue and loyalty.2 This chapter challenges this narrative by exploring changes to the geography of Irish religion over the Famine period. It draws together data on religion from the ← 197 | 198 → Irish censuses from 1861 to 1911 and integrates these with data from the 1834 Royal Commission which provides information on religious geographies in the pre-Famine period. Using Geographical Information Science (GISc) techniques3 allows us to directly compare geographies of religion...

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