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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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Marguérite Corporaal, Christopher Cusack and Lindsay Janssen: Introduction

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MARGUÉRITE CORPORAAL, CHRISTOPHER CUSACK AND LINDSAY JANSSEN

Introduction

Fifty years after the crisis had ended, historian William Patrick O’Brien predicted that ‘[i]n the future annals of Ireland a chief place will always belong to the year 1845 […] as the commencement of the GREAT FAMINE’.1 Indeed, the cultural legacies of the Great Irish Famine continue to play a fundamental role in public discourse well into the twenty-first century. Recent years were marked by a more extensive, international remembrance of the Famine past, to which the Irish government’s 2009 introduction of an annual National Famine Commemoration Day and a parallel international event, the opening of Dublin’s Jeanie Johnston, Tall Ship and Famine Museum in 2010 and the foundation of a Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University in 2012 all testify.

The Great Famine also continues to crop up as a ‘figure of memory’2 in debates surrounding the Irish financial crisis following the collapse of the Celtic Tiger. In December 2013, announcing that Ireland would no longer require the support of the Troika to weather the bust, Finance Minister Michael Noonan declared that Ireland’s financial crash was ‘the greatest crisis that this country has experienced since the famine.’3 Politicians like ← 1 | 2 → Noonan are not alone in their use of the Famine as a point of reference to describe the scale of the current crisis. Tim Pat Coogan, in his controversial popular history The Famine Plot (2012), draws connections between the financial...

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