Famine Report for Croghan Parish (Killukin and Killummod)

1847
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Croghan Parish during the Famine by Rev. Fr. Matthew J Barrett (1812-1871) P.P. Croghan

“Six hundred individuals have perished by the famine and its consequent epidemic disease since last October 1846. The present population of the parish is 7,367 individuals or 1,349 families, Protestant included. 136 families have been obliged to desert their holdings, some of those still remain scattered through the parish, having cabins; others have gone to America.

Including Protestants and Catholics, 127 families will be able to meet all their demands until next harvest, but I consider that if many of those are not indulged by their landlords, they will have no capital to continue as tenants afterwards.

A total of 491 families, or 2,440 individuals having a rood of land or more, together with a house, are nevertheless in a state of destitution; the remaining number of families, that is, the class between the independant and destitute, would have a sufficient amount of food to support themselves and their families, if not called on to pay any rent or taxes. But this cannot be expected, and supporting them to pay a fair proportion of their rents, etc., now, due, they might have about a quarter’s provisions. In this calculation, I contemplate the case that no public employment will be given.  Many of the roads in this district are in an unfinished state. Drainage on a large scale was contemplated but the Board of Works declined, though everything required on the part of the landolords was complied with. If this was gone on with, it would greatly relieve the district.

One landlord has taken a part of the million and a half voted to landlords; but I don’t think this will much relieve the destitute; as, in order to give employment, he requires a condition that one and a half year’s rent at least should be advanced.

The condition of the people as to clothing is so very bad that two thirds of those who were regular attendants at chapel cannot now make their appearance in public. In many instances the children are quite naked. The Protestant clergy and some Protestant gentry are distributing some light clothing, but they give it only on condition of parents sending their children to proselytising schools and of themselves appearing at church or in a lecture. In one part of the parish, a Presbyterian Minister has been employed to preach to the people. The same conditions are required in order to get food at their disposal. In fact every effort is being made to lead our starving people away from their faith.

In my opinion the prospects for the coming season are much more alarming as poultry and pigs have almost disappeared. In their other stock, the poor are reduced to at least half. With regard to tillage land, a great portion of it will not be fit for a grain crop next season; some are now digging it up and mixing manure with it in order to prepare it for grain, but this is a new experiment which many fear will fail.

My great cause for apprehension for small cottiers is that last year they had some poultry and some little furniture which they disposed of when tight pinched, but this year their little cabins are completly naked. They have no resources.”