Show Less
Restricted access

Global Legacies of the Great Irish Famine

Transnational and Interdisciplinary Perspectives


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

The 150th 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.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

David Sim:Philanthropy, Diplomacy and Nationalism: The United States and the Great Famine


| 227 →


Philanthropy, Diplomacy and Nationalism: The United States and the Great Famine

The US response to the Great Famine tells us much about the changing ways in which Americans in the mid-nineteenth century conceptualized Irish nationalism and Ireland’s place in the Anglo-American relationship. For many, the Famine and the destitution it brought seemed to signify the end of any aspirations for Irish self-determination. At the same time, US philanthropy prompted more conciliatory Anglo-American relations after a period of stress and strain over American expansion to the Pacific coast. Improved relations – and the growing sense of Anglo-Saxon kinship in evidence by the beginning of the 1850s – encouraged a marginalization of Irish nationalism.

For these reasons, the American response to the Great Famine deserves the attention of historians of the United States. Contemporaries celebrated the extraordinary philanthropy that news of the Famine prompted in the United States – president James K. Polk wrote privately that ‘the world has never witnessed a more beautiful spectacle’ than the collections made in early 1847 – and few doubted the broader geopolitical significance of events in Ireland.1 This was most obviously true of the wrenching demographic ← 227 | 228 → changes that the Famine wrought: around one million people – perhaps one-eighth of the population in 1845 – died of hunger or of Famine-related illness.2 A further 2.1 million people emigrated from Ireland over the following decade, 1.5 million of whom travelled to the United States.3 One American travelling through Ireland in...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.