Today is Famine Remembrance Day in Ireland.
So, in commemoration of the Great Hunger, and all the other famines that swept the land…I leave you with this image of Bridget O’Donnel.
The Sketch of a Woman and Children represents Bridget O’Donnel. Her story is briefly this:— “…we were put out last November; we owed some rent. I was at this time lying in fever… they commenced knocking down the house, and had half of it knocked down when two neighbours, women, Nell Spellesley and Kate How, carried me out… I was carried into a cabin, and lay there for eight days, when I had the creature (the child) born dead. I lay for three weeks after that. The whole of my family got the fever, and one boy thirteen years old died with want and with hunger while we were lying sick.”
Credit: Illustrated London News, December 22, 1849
Without the Hunger, some of my family might not have crossed the Atlantic on their coffin ships, maybe they would have prospered enough back in Ireland that I’d still be there, accent a bit more authentic, standing a bit more tall, I don’t know…what I do know is that the famine killed over a million of my ancestors’ countrymen, women, and children, and that their deaths will never be forgotten or forgiven.
I’ll also suggest pausing and acknowledging all those dying of famine in the world today, and those that have died in the past through what, in the modern age, should be thoroughly preventable…
The Holdomor, the Great Leap Forward, the famines in Ethiopia, Somalia, the Sudan, Belgium, and the Bengal Famine during World War II make Ireland look like just another drop in the overflowing bucket containing our numberless dead…but…well, that drop of water contained some of my family, some names on tombstones and wooden crosses, and…I’ll always pause to reflect on their untimely demise.
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