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Connemara after the Famine

Journal of a Survey of the Martin Estate, 1853

By: Thomas Colville Scott

Edited by: Tim Robinson

Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 1 customer rating
(1 customer review)

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In the aftermath of the Great Famine of 1845-52, the Martin Estate in the West of Ireland, 200,000-acres of bog and mountain, was put up for sale. Its mortgagees, the London Law Life Insurance Society, evicted many of the tenants, and in February 1853 sent Thomas Colville Scott to conduct a survey of their property. This is his journal, recently discovered at an auction-house in England.

Colville Scott records many an extraordinary encounter with individual survivors of the famine, some traumatized into idiocy, others mysteriously bettering themselves on well-nigh invisible means. The descriptions of squalid hostelries, rent-evading tenants, thieving beggars and the works of ‘Papistry’ are those of a cocksure Scots metropolitan – and his account of a meeting of the Clifden Workhouse Guardians is as brutally comic as Thackeray – but his dealings with human flotsam such as the tiny chimneysweep running naked through the snow shows a warm-heartedness that makes this journal as moving as it is richly informative. Drawings by the author and sketches from contemporary guidebooks illustrate the text.

Tim Robinson’s introductory essay locates Colville Scott’s responses within the frame of Connemara history and the nineteenth century. His annotations and map detailing the Martin Estate enable the reader to follow, day by day, the young surveyor on his exploration of ‘this inhabited desolation, Connemara after the Famine’.

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1 review for Connemara after the Famine

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Lilliput Press

    “I ordered the book because it covered a part of Ireland where my mother is from and my both of my father’s parents originated. I was happy to read about both locations in the author’s words. The author was a Scottish surveyor that was assessing the land for the English corporate owner. The Martin’s lost ownership through bankruptcy. It is a very stark description of the conditions and one of the most disturbing, recurrent themes is of the surveyor coming upon houses with bleached skeletons in them; remnants of the famine that had ended several years before. The author frequently appears sympathetic to the lot of the Irish residents of the land he is surveying but when he recounts their plight from in front of his fireplace in England he easily reverts to blaming their plight on laziness and “lack of industry.” I would recommend this to anyone interested in the famine. It is a unique view from contemporary disinterested party. The author doesn’t have an agenda but he definitely has a point of view.” JOE

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ISBN
9781874675693
Weight 0.25 kg
publication-date

1995

format

215x135mm, 126pp

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