Atlas of the Great Irish Famine examines probably the most pivotal event/experience in modern Irish history. Its global reach and implications cannot be underestimated. In terms of mortality, it is now widely accepted that at least one million and a quarter fled the country, the great majority to North America, some to Australia and a significant minority (c.0.3 million) to British cities. Ireland had been afflicted by famine before the events of the 1840s: however the Great Irish Famine is marked by both its absolute scale and its longevity. It also saw the greatest ecological, economic, psychological and social transformation in Irish society since the Cromwellian conquest and settlement two centuries earlier. It is also better remembered because it was the most recent and best documented famine. The Atlas of the Great Irish Famine comprising over fifty individual chapters, case studies and 200 maps will provide readers with a broad range of perspectives and relevant insights into this tragic event.
The Atlas of the Great Irish Famine seeks to understand and remember where and why thousands and thousands of Irish people died. Many of those who perished are buried in mass Famine pits or in fields and ditches, with littel or nothing to remind us of their going. The centrality of the Famine workhouse as a place of destitution is also examined in depth. Likewise the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine seeks to represent and understand the conditions and experiences of the many thousands who emigrated from Ireland in those desperate years. Included are case studies of famine emigrants in cities such as Liverpool, Glasgow, New York and Toronto.
A central concern of the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine is to look to understand why a famine of this scale should occur in a nineteenth-century European country, albeit a country which was subject to imperial rule. In addition, it seeks to reveal in detail the working-out and varying consequences of the Famine across the island. Apart from presenting an overall island-wide picture, Famine experiences and patterns are presented separately for the four provinces. These provincial explorations are accompanied by intimate case studies of conditions in particular counties, parishes and townlands across the provinces. The Atlas of the Great Irish Famine also seeks to situate the Irish Famine in the context of a number of world famines. To achieve these goals and understandings, the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine includes contributions from a wide range of scholars who are experts in their fields – from the arts, archaeology, geography, folklore, history, economics, Irish and English languages and literatures.