Annals of the Famine in Ireland
Publication Date: June 1998
Annals of the Famine in Ireland by Asenath Nicholson, edited by Maureen Murphy
In January, 1847, during the height of the Famine in Ireland, Asenath Hatch Nicholson began her one-woman relief operation in Dublin, organizing a soup-kitchen, visiting homes of the poor and distributing bread in the streets. In a uniquely personal campaign, this remarkable individual travelled the country, aiming to alleviate the starving conditions in Dublin and the West of Ireland and simultaneously ‘bring the Bible to the Irish poor’. Compassionate and searing, Annals of the Famine in Ireland is an extraordinary narrative by an eye-witness who became an integral part of the lives of those she helped to feed and clothe. Her sketches and snapshots, vividly recapturing individuals and events during one of the most momentous periods of Irish history, are introduced and skillfully annotated by a contemporary scholar.
“The story of one remarkable, independent-minded witness to the Great Hunger.” – Christine Kinealy, The Irish Times
“Her narrative is extraordinarily vivid, with a style and a vocabulary surprisingly modern S a document of historical importance.” —Richard Roche, The Irish Times
“Among the most pungent of first-hand accounts of the Famine S this welcome reissue, meticulously edited by Maureen Murphy, includes abundant and illuminating annotations.” — Patricia Craig, Times Literary Supplement
‘I’ve read a great deal about the Famine but I haven’t read anything that captures the horrors in so vivid a style, and with such understanding and sympathy. She also writes eloquently about the landscape and the people… I could go on. It is so evocative, so moving.” — Margaret Ward, historian and biographer
“Asenath Nicholson’s account of the Irish Famine is a document of historical importance and contemporary relevance… an American Protestant widow travelling alone through the starved and staunchly Catholic countryside of Ireland, Mrs Nicholson is so unique and original that she seems to have stepped out of a novel. Hers is a true witness and real voice that penetrates the bloodless statistics of Ireland’s Famine agony and renders the immense human tragedy at its heart. She can be read with equal reward by anyone interested in feminist studies, Irish history, philanthropy, the Victorian age, cultural anthropology or the history of religion. It is remarkable that so striking and unusual a narrator has been neglected for so long. Mrs Nicholson’s time has come. Attention must be paid.” — Peter Quinn, author of Banished Children of Eve
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Asenath Nicholson (1792-1855) wrote Annals of the Famine in Ireland as well as Ireland’s Welcome to the Stranger (1847), a valuable record of Ireland on the eve of the Famine.