The Great Irish Famine


The Great Irish Famine tells of the last great famine in European history. First-hand accounts and writings by four contemporary real people are used to give a complete and personal picture of the historic tragedy.

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The Great Irish Famine of 1845-52 was the defining event in the history of modern Ireland. At least one million people died, and double that number fled the country within a decade.

The Great Irish Famine surveys the history of this great tragedy through the testimonies of four key contemporaries, conveying the immediacy of the unfolding disaster as never before.

They are:

  • John MacHale-the Catholic Archbishop of Tuam
  • John Mitchel-the radical nationalist
  • Elizabeth Smith-the Scottish-born wife of a Wicklow landlord
  • Charles E. Trevelyan-the assistant secretary to the Treasury 

Each brings a unique perspective, influenced by who they were, what they witnessed, and what they stood for. It is an intimate and compelling portrayal of these hungry years. The book shows how misguided policies inspired by slavish adherence to ideology worsened the effects of a natural disaster of catastrophic proportions.


‘A significant and sophisticated addition to the historiography of the Famine’ -    Christopher Cusack, Times Literary Supplement       

‘Delaney’s approach to the story is innovative ? (it will be found) in the hands of those who appreciate first-rate history?a very impressive book’- Breandán Mac Suibhne, Dublin Review of Books               

‘ ? a genuinely original and illuminating perspective  on a subject  too often dealt with by means of  second-hand narrative and unexamined clichés.’ – Roy Foster, Professor of Irish History, Oxford University

‘There are many books on this terrible event, but this is one of the most fluent and original. Although it is based on large amounts of primary research its style is accessible and engaging, and the result is a valuable study of a truly harrowing crisis’.  – The Times Higher Education Supplement        

‘? an extraordinarily important subject ? focusing on four fascinating characters’ – Ryan Tubridy

‘Delaney offers an insinghtful, readable overview of this overwhelming disaster ? highly recommended.’ – ‘Choice’, America’s Library Association publication

‘Enda Delaney’s The Great Irish Famine: A History in Four Lives does not break fresh ground in research, but it is riveting, insightful and pacy, and, far from appearing tired, it invigorates standard historical methodology.’ – Niamh O’Sullivan, The Irish Times

Additional information

Weight 0.417 kg
Dimensions 21.5 × 13.5 × 2.5 cm






x, 293 , [16] of plates




941.50810922 (edition:23)


General – Trade / Code: K


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