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175 years ago this week, in September 1845, potato blight was first reported in Ireland.

XO Chronicles - Irish Famine Sketches

This week marks 175 years since the beginning of the Great Hunger, a catastrophic series of events that resulted in a million people dying and more than two million emigrating. 

It is difficult to imagine the hardships endured by the Irish people during the six-year famine period. Photography was in its infancy, but many illustrations exist that capture the predicament of the Irish people at that time. These, and their accompanying descriptions, create a haunting image of that period.

CLICK on the image or placename to learn the full story behind each picture.


The Rev. Fr Clancy visits a farm, and there, in one house, ‘he administered the last rites of religion to six persons.’

Dromodaleague and Caheragh 1847


'The sinking man made an effort to reach the door... he fell in the doorway; there, in all probability to die.'

Aghadown 1847

Starvation in County Cork
'The accounts from the Irish provincial papers continue to detail the unmitigated sufferings of the starving peasantry.'

Cork Souphouse

READ MORE Local Famine Reports

Do you know the details of your Irish ancestors who were born around the time of the Great Hunger? Adding their story to the Chronicles of their parish of origin enables us to reconstruct a picture of that place, in a time before extreme hardship resulted in around half of the Irish population dying or emigrating.

Add An Ancestor

We hope you have found the information we have shared helpful. While you are here, we have a small favour to ask. Ireland Reaching Out is a non-profit organisation that relies on public funding and donations to ensure a completely free family history advisory service to anyone of Irish heritage who needs help connecting with their Irish place of origin. If you would like to support our mission, please click on the donate button and make a contribution. Any amount, big or small, is appreciated and makes a difference. 

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