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Subjects Lacking Words? The Gray Zone of the Great Famine
Subjects Lacking Words? The Gray Zone of the Great Famine

Our Price:11.95
Authors: Breandán Mac Suibhne
Affiliation: Centenary University, New Jersey
Publication Year: Softback October 2017
Pages: 44
Size: 297 x 228mm

ISBN: 9780997837476

American Alliance of Museum Publications Competition - 1st prize, books - Famine Folios: Series 4 (2018).
New England Museum Association - 1st prize, books - Famine Folio: Series 4 (2018).

In the time of Ireland’s Great Famine, poor people were, in places, so “reduced” that they treated each other with brutal callousness. Husbands abandoned wives and children. Mothers snatched food from the hands of infants. Neighbours stole each other’s rations. People even killed for food. And this callousness extended to the dead. Human bodies were dumped in mass graves or left unburied to be ravaged by dogs and pigs, rats, ravens, and gulls. There were reports too of cannibalism.

In later years, some people, who themselves suffered in the 1840s, were ashamed of having failed to offer human solidarity to others in distress. Yet if there were subjects lacking words—things difficult to describe or explain—those who had been to the abyss did talk of it. Survivors of other humanitarian crises have shown human beings to be remarkably resilient. And, in the case of Ireland, there is no basis for the insular notion that the Great Famine was “so deeply tragic as to be too traumatic to recall”.

Series: Famine Folios

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