The Great Famine of 1841= hundreds of thousands dead, a million migrating to the New World, followed by the 1849 cholera outbreak resulting in an even higher death toll and another migration. This represents the greatest loss to Ireland in terms of people, over two million people in ten years. Now I know that I’m a novice in the study of history– I’m reading the Pocket History of Ireland for Chrissakes. However, I think it’s only right to point out this feeling I’ve had that there’s a living sadness here that is historical. My feeling is that the loss of loved ones from the Great Famine is still felt and quietly acted upon.
I’m not speaking entirely from the gut here since we had the honor of sitting with three very wise women last night who kept the rounds of beer coming and the conversation drenched in the most astute observation. I’ll offer just a couple of observations that might interest my readers.
Observation 29 of 112: Even in the coldest of weather, many Irishmen dress as if markets full of affordable warm weather gear didn’t exist. This stands in contrast with the colorful synthetics of the German tourist.
Observation 30 of 112: Many cultures have a depression-era type habit of not eating the last bite on the plate. The Irish have solved this socially awkward moment by sharing the last bite.
Here’s more history that I’d like to comment on. It will have to come later though. We’re headed out to the Burrens today!
The Aftermath of the Easter Rising
The aftermath of the rebellion should not have come as a surprise to anybody – arrested rebels were interned, around 200 had to face military tribunals. The sentence of death was passed ninety times for high treason. All this was in line with then current British practice. Actually the death sentence was quite popular with British military courts between 1914 and 1918, leading to more executions than the German Army saw during the same war.
But total idiocy struck when Maxwell insisted in a swift handling of the death sentences. In a rather hasty operation fourteen rebels were shot in Dublin’s Kilmainham Gaol – Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh, Thomas Clarke, Edward Daly, William Pearse, Michael O’Hanrahan, Eamonn Ceannt, Joseph Plunkett, John MacBride, Sean Heuston, Con Colbert, Michael Maillin, Sean MacDermott and James Connolly. Thomas Kent was executed in Cork. Roger Casement was hanged in London later, after a lengthy trial. Seen by fellow Irishmen as deluded troublemakers at the time of their arrests, the sixteen were elevated to national martyrs mainly by Maxwell’s heavy-handed approach.