Grim Bastilles of Despair is a short study on the Poor Law Union Workhouses in Ireland. The folio explores how, despite strong Irish resistance, the British authorities established the Act for the Effectual Relief of the Destitute Poor in Ireland, which was to become one of the most despised Acts ever to come into effect in Ireland. The study includes an account of the selection of the workhouse architect, George Wilkinson, and provides a short biography of his career, together with a detailed description of his model designs for the workhouse buildings which had been designed to ensure that nothing short of total destitution would compel anyone to seek refuge there. The ideology of segregation and confinement, as well as the traumatic daily experience of the paupers who had been forced by eviction and starvation to enter these brutal institutions, is described and illustrated with drawings and photographs. The folio also describes the devastating impact of the Great Famine and how these flawed institutions imploded under the enormity of this great tragedy, causing almost one third of a million people to die within their grey stone walls during the Famine years (1846-51).
Ireland's Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University publishes Famine Folios, a unique resource for students, scholars and researchers, as well as general readers, covering many aspects of the Famine in Ireland from 1845–1852 – the worst demographic catastrophe of nineteenth-century Europe. The essays are interdisciplinary in nature, and make available new research in Famine studies by internationally established scholars in history, art history, cultural theory, philosophy, media history, political economy, literature and music.
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