Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A rough start in Ireland

On March 14, 1841 a baby boy named Patrick was born to Michael & Mary (O'Neil) Tierney in County Tipperary, Ireland. Little did this family know what would transpire in their homeland in the near future.

Their lives, which were probably not too easy to begin with, would become tried beyond the imagination.

With the potato being the main food of the rural Irish, the failure of the potato crops in 1845-49 resulted in the disastrous Great Famine. Starvation and famine fever spread through the land; its greatest impact was in those communities on marginal lands. During the last part of the Famine, grain continued to be exported from Ireland to the markets of England, and Indian corn was prohibited by tariffs from entering Ireland (or England).

Government policies were criminally slow to react to the disaster. Workhouses, established under the Poor Law Act of 1838 for the relief of the destitute poor, were overwhelmed. At the height of the Famine, 3,000 per week were dying in the workhouses of Ireland. One million people perished due to the famine and within a decade or two, a further two million emigrated from Ireland.

Tipperary was relatively badly affected by the
Famine. Almost 70,000 people died in the county between 1845 and 1850 particularly in the years 1849 and 1850. The county population fell from
435,000 in 1841, to 331,000 in 1851 and to
249,000 in 1861. The rural population declined by two-thirds in that period and the town population by nearly one-half.
Read more about Tipperary history here.

Living a childhood in this kind of world, it is a miracle that young Patrick Tierney survived and went on to live to age 59, passing away in 1900.

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