By Frank Neal
The Irish Famine of 1845-49 was once a massive smooth disaster. The go back of the potato blight in 1846 brought on a massive exodus of destitute Irish looking shelter in British cities and 1847 witnessed an remarkable influx of Irish refugees into Britain. This booklet examines the dimensions of that refugee immigration, the stipulations less than which the refugees have been carried to Britain, the comfort operations fixed, the horrors of the typhus epidemic in Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, South Wales and the North-East, and the monetary price to the British ratepayers.
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Additional info for Black '47: Britain and the Famine Irish
The downturn in the economy in 1841-2, and 1847, exacerbated the problem of poverty and it was into this environment that die famine Irish arrived. II Moving from macro analysis to micro, detailed attention must now be turned to the particular conditions in diree towns which were targets of Irish immigration; Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. The first major source of evidence concerning the social conditions of the Irish in Britain before the famine influx is the report of George Coniwallis on the state of the Irish poor in Britain.
Given the 1841 census figure of 30 304 in the borough of Manchester, the estimate in 1834 of 30 000 seems the most realistic figure. 62 A very large proportion of Irish at this time had been attracted by the possibility of finding work, including handloom weavers. The perception of endemic Irish poverty was established from die onset of large scale pre-famine Irish iimnigration into Manchester township. For example, for the financial year ending 25 March 1824, expenditure on the Irish poor in Manchester was £818.
Kay pointed out that these bare statistics did not convey the full reality of the awful living conditions endured by large numbers of people, including die lack of bedding, food, fuel and clothing. Referring specifically to the Irish, he wrote: In these respects, the habitations of the Irish are most destitute. They can scarcely be said to be furnished. They contain one or two chairs, a mean table, the most scant culinary apparatus and one or two beds, loathsome with filth. A whole family is often accommodated on a single bed, and sometimes a heap of filthy straw and a covering of old sacking to hide them in one undistinguished heap, debased alike by penury, want of economy and dissolute habits...
Black '47: Britain and the Famine Irish by Frank Neal