Ireland’s Great Famine of 1845–52 was among the most devastating food crises in modern history. A country of some eight-and-a-half-million people lost one million to hunger and disease and another million to emigration. According to land activist Michael Davitt, the starving made little or no effort to assert "the animal’s right to existence," passively accepting their fate. But the poor did resist. In word and deed, they defied landlords, merchants and agents of the state: they rioted for food, opposed rent and rate collection, challenged the decisions of those controlling relief works, and scorned clergymen who attributed their suffering to the Almighty. The essays collected here examine the full range of resistance in the Great Famine, and illuminate how the crisis itself transformed popular politics. Contributors include distinguished scholars of modern Ireland and emerging historians and critics. This book is essential reading for students of modern Ireland, and the global history of collective action.

chapter |9 pages

Editors' Introduction

‘To Assert Even the Animal's Right of Existence’
ByEnda Delaney, Breandán Mac Suibhne

chapter 1|24 pages

‘ 'Tis Hard to Argue Starvation into Quiet'

Protest and Resistance, 1846–47 1
ByJohn Cunningham

chapter 2|25 pages

‘The Tottering, Fluttering, Palpitating Mass'

Power and Hunger in Nineteenth-Century Literary Responses to the Great Famine
ByMelissa Fegan

chapter 3|21 pages

Soup and Providence

Varieties of Protestantism and the Great Famine
ByDavid W. Miller

chapter 4|62 pages

Walking Backward to Heaven?

Edmond Ronayne's Pilgrimage in Famine Ireland and Gilded Age America
ByKerby A. Miller, Ellen Skerrett, Bridget Kelly

chapter 5|30 pages

The Great Famine, Land and the Making of the Graziers

ByDavid S. Jones

chapter 6|14 pages

Aspects of Agency

John Ross Mahon, Accommodation and Resistance on the Strokestown Estate, 1845–51 1
ByCiarán Reilly

chapter 7|47 pages

‘Bastard Ribbonism'

The Molly Maguires, the Uneven Failure of Entitlement and the Politics of Post-Famine Adjustment
ByBreandán Mac Suibhne