Thomas Gallagher - Paddy's Lament, Ireland 1846-1847. PDF

PDF This book will make you cry. I learned about the Irish Famine in history class years ago, but Gallagher makes it come alive. The suffering was enormous, and he says it's now considered the worst famine of the 19th century. As if the famine itself wasn't bad enough, the conditions on the "coffin ships" that brought Irish emigrants to America were appalling. A quarter of the people died en route. What broke my heart to read were the descriptions of how important it was to the Irish to have a decent burial, and even the poorest of the poor kept a little money hidden away for their funeral, so they could be buried in consecrated ground. During the famine, conditions got so bad that people were buried in mass graves, without even a prayer said over them, and others were buried at sea. Both of these were affronts to the Irish view of death. Not to mention the fact that so many had to emigrate to America, knowing that they would never go back to Ireland, and would be buried in a strange land. You alternate between rage at the British and heartbreak for the victims of this terrible famine.

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