Book On Great Famine In Tralee And North Kerry Launches Next Week

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A NEW book by a Ballyheigue native focussing on the Great Famine in Ireland and how it affected Tralee and north Kerry in particular, will be launched in O’Mahonys Bookshop in town next week.

In ‘The Great Famine in Tralee and North Kerry’, author, Bryan MacMahon charts the various stages of how north Kerry was decimated.

Few counties suffered as badly as Kerry during the Famine. Tralee, Listowel and north Kerry were devastated. By the end of the Famine the population of the county was reduced by over 20 per cent.

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Bryan MacMahon — originally from Ballyheigue, and now lives in Stillorgan, Co. Dublin, where he was a secondary school teacher for thirty years — trawled through a multitude of sources from the voluminous accounts provided by the Kerry newspapers to the journal of Lieutenant H. N. Greenwell located in the Kona Historical Society Archives in Hawaii.

The reader is introduced to individual stories of hardship and hunger, including stories of people drowning whilst foraging for seaweed to eat, children dying in the workhouse, and people dying after being turned away from the workhouse.

MacMahon’s work probes other issues about the Famine, among these is the idea that people profited during these years of hunger, eviction and emigration.

This ‘greediness for gain’ was exemplified in the actions of some merchants and shopkeepers who stood to gain from the severity of the times, when even the living were described as ‘but crawling skeletons’.

With a particular focus on eyewitness accounts, this book brings to light the shocking realities of life in Tralee and North Kerry from 1845 to 1852.

Focusing on the human stories, Bryan MacMahon guides the reader through a variety of contemporary accounts of the Famine and its aftermath, which provide a moving insight into the suffering endured by thousands in the area.

The book will be launched in O’Mahony’s  Bookshop on Thursday, June 22 by Jimmy Deenihan.

Bryan MacMahon has contributed to ‘The Irish Times’ (‘Irishman’s Diary’ columns), the ‘Irish Independent’, ‘History Ireland’, ‘The Irish Sword’, ‘The Holly Bough’ and many local historical society publications in Kerry and Dublin.

He has also featured on ‘Nationwide’ (RTÉ TV), ‘Sunday Miscellany’ and ‘The Business’ (RTÉ Radio 1), and on ‘Talking History’ and ‘The Moncrieff Show’ (Newstalk). He has published six books on local and general history.

One Comment

  1. Should be a good seller. Sounds sad but very interesting.