Black '47: Britain and the Famine Irish by Frank Neal

By Frank Neal

The Irish Famine of 1845-49 used to be a big glossy disaster. The go back of the potato blight in 1846 brought on an immense exodus of destitute Irish looking shelter in British cities and 1847 witnessed an remarkable influx of Irish refugees into Britain. This ebook examines the dimensions of that refugee immigration, the stipulations less than which the refugees have been carried to Britain, the comfort operations fastened, the horrors of the typhus epidemic in Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, South Wales and the North-East, and the monetary expense to the British ratepayers.

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Robins, his wife and child, Thomas Robins and his wife, a young man of seventeen and a young woman of die same age, an old woman, a man, his wife and two children, also a woman who came there to nurse them, all these persons are labouring under fever in different shapes. These persons have been diligently attended to by the medical attendants of the parish but what can medical skill do in such cases as these. It is food, light and air they require. 3 In fact the Board did nothing. 4 The Irish did not create diese conditions and they were shared with sections of the English, Welsh and Scots poor.

He was later to emerge as a major figure in the handling of the famine immigration crisis in Liverpool. In 1833, 45 per cent of all the patients passing through the North Dispensary were Irish and Duncan had an extensive experience of visiting the Irish in dieir 'dwellings'. As a result of this, Duncan formed firm opinions about the conditions experienced by the Liverpool Irish. The Irish poor are about one diird of the poor population of this town. I attribute the greater proportion of disease among die Irish to dieir living in crowded, ill-ventilated, dirty habitations.

Anodier feature contributing significantly to its general unhealthy state, was the density of population. 50 Collectively the investigations of Cornwallis, Wood, Holmes and Duncan all demonstrate diat the urban environment of Liverpool was normally unhealdiy; diat the housing stock was of poor quality, even by the standards of Victorian England and that, on the eve of die Irish famine, the town was the most densely populated in Britain. Both Irish and non Irish working classes lived in such conditions.

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