The Illustrated London News (Jan. 16, 1847)


On Wednesday, a public meeting of clergy, ministers, and others, was held at Exeter Hall, “to take into consideration the frightful amount of distress and famine existing in all parts of the United Kingdom, but more especially in Ireland and in the Highlands and islands of Scotland, as well as to consult as to the most desirable course to be pursued to mitigate the immense amount of privation and suffering throughout the country.” The following resolutions were unanimously adopted:– Proposed by the Rev. H. H. Beamish, and seconded by the Rev. A. Maugin “That, in consequence of the present dearth of food and the high price of all kinds of provisions, and the undisputed fact that deaths from starvation are a daily consequence throughout the United Kingdom, more especially in Ireland and the Highlands and islands of Scotland, it is the bounden duty of all Christians to make every possible exertion in order to relieve the present frightful sufferings of their fellow creatures, for which end the clergy of all denominations be urgently requested to preach in favour of a general collection in their respective churches and chapels; and that, after an urgent appeal has also been made to the public at large, the ministers of the Gospel of Christ do personally visit the wealthier residents in their own parishes and congregations, in order to urge upon them to contribute to the funds so much needed in behalf of our countrymen suffering from famine, sickness, and disease.” The second resolution, which was moved by the Rev. John Blackburn, and seconded by the Hon. and Rev. Baptist Noel, expressed its deep sympathy for the sufferings of the labouring classes throughout the United Kingdom, especially in Ireland and Scotland; its gratitude to those benevolent persons who have already so munificently contributed; and the hope that the Legislature would adopt measures for the effectual mitigation of distress. The third resolution recommended the fixing of a particular day to make simultaneous collections, appointing as a committee to carry out the contemplated objects—Rev. G. H. Stoddart, Rev. Dr. Clarke, Rev. Dr. Liefechild, Rev. Dr. Maugin, Rev. Dr. Hare, Rev. J. Blackburn, Hon. and Rev. B. W. Noel, Rev. J. H. Weeks, Rev. S. G. Osborne, Rev. Dr. Carlile, B. B. Cabbell, Esq., M.P., with power to add to their number. The different speakers, in the course of their addresses, gave some heart-rending details as to the great extent and deplorable results of famine in Ireland.


The letters from Dublin of Wednesday give melancholy accounts from Mayo. Five additional deaths from starvation had occurred since that day week. There has been an important meeting of the nobility and gentry of Ireland, at which the following resolutions were agreed to: “That, at this awful period of national calamity, it becomes the first duty of every Irishman to devote his undivided efforts to the interests of Ireland; and that neither politics, parties, nor personal prejudices, should influence his mind in the discharge of such a duty. ” That, as we feel deeply convinced that our own divisions have been the leading causes of our own misfortunes, and, by weakening our influence in the councils of the empire, have deprived us of our share in the general prosperity, so we are no less firmly persuaded that it is by union alone we can repair the evils that dissension has created. “That, if the necessity of joint and united action be urgent and important to Ireland under ordinary circumstances, it at this moment becomes imperative and vital, as not only the future fortunes, but the present lives, of millions may depend on our exertions; and that dissension, at such an hour, is not only a reproach, but a crime. “That, to make such a union binding and effective, it will be necessary, not only to feel, but to act together, to take steps to ensure a united support, or united opposition, to such measures as may be produced, with regard to Ireland, during the ensuing session of Parliament. “That, for this purpose, we venture to suggest to the Irish members of the Legislature to meet together at such time as may be considered most proper and convenient, for the purpose of forming an Irish party, for the protection of Irish interests; and we earnestly intreat that every member of that body should resolve, as far as possible, to consider and modify his own opinions so as to meet the united feelings of the general body, and should banish from his mind all considerations of party or prejudice, at a time when the lives and interests of his countrymen are so deeply perilled. “That we feel confident that a union, thus formed and carried on, for the protection of all classes, will receive the support and co-operation of all—the aid of the rich and the confidence of the poor. We pray Divine Providence to bless our efforts in the cause of our afflicted country, and to promote amongst us that feeling of united exertion and self-reliance which can alone raise us to our proper place in the great empire to which we belong.” These resolutions were prepared by the Marquis of Sligo and Mr. Moore, as the basis for the union of “an Irish party.” The list of signatures (says the Freeman’s Journal) comprises the noblest and purest in the land. No party spirit is permitted to intrude they call themselves THE PARTY of IRELAND. Rathdowne and Farnham, and Waterford and O’Neil and Caledon, move in glorious harness with Sligo and Arran, Shannon, Headfort, and Cremorne. O’Connell and his sons are there, side by side with Sir A. Brooke, George Alexander Hamilton, and Colonel Acton. Since Dungannon, of “blessed memory,” there has not been such a union. The signatures include those of no less than forty-six Peers.


There was some rather serious rioting at Dublin, yesterday week. About nine o’clock in the morning, a body of men, apparently railway labourers, tolerably well clad, assembled at the foot of Summer Hill, adjoining Lower Gardiner street, Dublin, and they were not long there when two bread-carts approached. A portion of the party, armed with large sticks, drew out towards the carts, addressed threatening terms to the men in charge, while the rest of the mob deliberately rifled all the contents of the carts. Some three or four policemen were attracted to the spot by the commotion, but, from the attitude assumed by the fighting section of the plunderers, they did not consider themselves warranted in attempting the arrest of any of the party; all, in consequence, escaped.
About two hours afterwards, a party, supposed to be the same gang, attacked the shop of Mr. Campbell, of Marlborough-street, and carried off all the bread in his shop. They proceeded down Marlborough-street to Eden-quay. and 3:llin stopped before the door of Mr. Coyne, the bread and biscuit baker residing there, and repeated their demand for bread; but, on seeing the police approaching, they retired, and passed over Carlisle Bridge in the direction of Westmoreland street.
A mob surrounded the shop of Mr. Jeffers, baker, of Church steeet; but, the police being in the vicinity, they were called on, and succeeded in dispersing the mob.
Several bread-carts were stopped in the outlets of the city, and their contents taken.
The rioters continued their depredations up to ten o’clock at night, and, owing either to the inequality of numbers, or want of energy in the police, succeeded in plundering a great number of bakeries in the neighbourhood of the Liberty, as well as in the northern ends of the city.
On Saturday morning, at an early hour, the work of plunder commenced afresh, and several bakers’ shops and carts were emptied of their contents, with little or no resistance on the part of the owners. There were more more bread riots on Tuesday morning. At daybreak, a body of about 300 men collected at the Broadstone, and, having arranged their plans, rushed down Dominick-street into Dorset-street, where they attacked a bread cart, and in an instant seized its contents. Shortly afterwards they attacked a second cart, when five or six mounted policemen, and about the same number of foot police, came upon them. A scuffle ensued, and the police succeeded in arresting eight of the plunderers. These persons were brought before the magistrates of Henry-street police-office, and, from their statements, it appeared they were, with one exception, from the counties of Wicklow, Wexford, Kildare, and one was from the county of Clare. The leader of the mob was arrested. His name is Murphy, a native of Dublin, and on his person was found the sum of 2s. 5d. They all pleaded hunger as their excuse, but Mr. Stoddart replied that although they might be in great distress, still a man with 2s. 5d. in his pocket could not offer such a reason for plundering in the open streets. They were all committed for trial. Subsequently five others were brought in, for attacking bread-carts in Dorset-street. They are all young men, from 18 to 23 years of age. On their persons were found sums varying from six to two pence. They were also committed for trial. Ten men were brought before the magistrates of the Head Office of police, for attacking a bread-cart of Sir David Roche’s, in Bridge foot-street, and were committed for trial. In Thomas-street, and Lower Bagot street, bread was seized by mobs on Tuesday morning.


Very lamentable accounts are given from various parts of the county of Cork. From gantry, Skibbereen, Crookhaven, Castletown, and Tracton, the reports present the same gloomy features. The intelligence from these scenes of misery is summed up by the Cork Examiner as follows:–

“SKIBBEREEN.–In the parish of Kilmoe, fourteen died on Sunday; three of these were buried in coffins, eleven were buried without other covering than the rags they wore when alive. And one gentleman, a good and charitable man, speaking of this case, says–‘The distress is so appalling, that we must throw away all feelings of delicacy;’ and another says–‘I would rather give 1s. to a starving man than 4s. 6d. for a coffin.’ One hundred and forty have died in the Skibbereen Workhouse in one month; eight have died in one day! And Mr. M’Carthy Downing states that ‘they came into the house merely and solely for the purpose of getting a coffin.’ The Rev. Mr. Clancy visits a farm, and there, in one house, ‘he administered the last rites of religion to six person.’ On a subsequent occasion, he ‘prepared for death a father and a daughter lying in the same bed.’ Dr. Donovan solemnly assures a public meeting that the people are ‘dropping in dozens about them.’ Mr. Marmion says that work on the public road is even more destructive than fever; for the unfed wretches have not energy enough to keep their blood in circulation, and they drop down from the united effects of cold and hunger–never to rise again.

“In Tracton, deaths, it appears, are occurring too. Mr. Corkoran, P.P., in a letter to Mr. Redington says: ‘Over sixteen deaths occurred in my parishes for the last ten days. I am morally certain that each and every one of them was occasioned and accelerated by want of food and fire. Buckley, of Ballyvorane, and Sullivan, of Oysterhaven, died suddenly. Buckley dropped dead on the works, after a journey of three miles before day. His wife will make affidavit, that he had not sufficient food the night before he died, and that she and the rest of her family lived thirty-six hours on wild weeds to spare a bit of the cake for him. (In this case, a Coroner’s verdict was given without sight of the body.) This horrifying economy is practiced by scores of families in this district. Similar effects must be expected from similar causes. I fear we must bury the dead coffinless in future. My God! what a revolting idea! Without food when alive, without a coffin when dead.’”
The Rev. Robert Traill, chairman of the Schule Relief Committee, county Cork, states that 15,000 persons in that wide district are destitute; of this 5000 are entirely dependent on casual charity; fifty deaths have resulted from famine and “hundreds” are so reduced that not food or medicine can restore them! The deaths, he adds, now average 25 daily!!
Ten additional deaths by starvation have occurred in the barony of gantry. The Jury at the inquests at Bantry handed in the following remonstrance, by their foreman, Mr. E. O’Sullivan:– “That we feel it our duty to state, under the correction of the Court, that it is our opinion that, if the Government of the country shall persevere in its determination of refusing to use the means available to it for the purpose of lowering the price of food, so as to place it within the reach of the labouring poor, the result will be a sacrifice of human life from starvation to a frightful extent, and endangerment of property and of the public peace.

The Cork Society of Friends Soup House.
The Illustrated London News Jan. 16, 1847


There were nearly 20 deaths by starvation reported from the southern and western counties on Monday morning. In a list of seven specified in the Galway Mercury, there is an account of the death of a man named Walker, who are: years ago was the proprietor of a veterinary establishment in Marlborough street, Dublin. It appears that on Thursday (last week) he fell down suddenly in the town of Loughrea, and after a few minutes expired. An inquest was held on the body, and the jury returned a verdict of “Died of starvation.” Several additional inquests on persons who died of starvation, were reported on Tuesday from the counties of Cork, Clare, Limerick, and Waterford.

TIPPERARY.—A letter from Tipperary states that the distress there has reached to such a height that the measures of relief expected from Parliament will come too late! It is sometimes impossible to get bread for money in that and other country towns. The food reserved hitherto is fast disappearing. The supply on the merchants’ hand scanty, and the price continually advancing. The funds of the different Relief Committees, through which only starvation or plunder have been averted, are being exhausted; and unless measures adequate to the emergency, and worthy of the greatest nation in the world, be at once adopted and executed with vigour, the most calamitous events must ensue.

The Illustration shows a benevolent attempt to mitigate the suffering in the city of Cork, viz., the Society of Friends’ Soup House. There are many similar establishments in operation through the county; but, we prefer the annexed because the idea originated with the Society of Friends. The funds for its support are chiefly raised among this charitable class; and we are happy to state that the establishment is now in a position to supply 1500 gallons of Soup daily, at a loss, or rather cost, of from £120 to £150 per month to the supporters of the design. The present calls are for from 150 to 180 gallons daily, requiring 120 pounds of good beef, 27 pounds of rice, 27 pounds of oatmeal, 27 pounds of split peas, and 14 ounces of spices, with a quantity of vegetables. Tickets, at one penny each, are unsparingly distributed, on presenting one of which, each poor person receives one quart of soup, with half a small loaf of bread; and both are of good quality.
In the making of the Soup, the greatest possible cleanliness is observed; attention is paid to the poor, who throng the place daily, for their cheap supply of food; as well as to the visitors, who go to see the soup made, and who are requested to test its quality, and suggest any improvement. The vats, which are shown in the Sketch, are worked by a steamengine, in an adjoining house; and, to ensure cleanliness, as well as sweetness, they are used alternately. Too much credit cannot be given to this establishment, and to the exertions of the Society of Friends in general; for, not content with originating these Soup Establishments, they have also raised a sum of money for distribution in the west, so as the more effectually to relieve the poor in distant districts.

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