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The Daily Genealogist: Atlas of the Great Irish Famine

(A Note from the Editor) Permanent link
Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock

A lavish and substantial volume, The Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, edited by Joseph Crowley, William J. Smyth, and Mike Murphy was published in Ireland in August 2012 by Cork University Press; it was published later in the year in the United States by New York University. The work was the winner of the Best Irish Published Book of the year for 2012. For those interested in Irish history, and especially those interested in knowing more about what pushed their ancestors to emigrate, this is a book well worth reading and becoming immersed in.

The December 9, 2012, Boston Sunday Globe offered a summary: “For decades following the famine, little was said or written about it. Today it is the subject of a monumental study. Atlas of the Great Irish Famine . . . is aimed at general readers as well as academics. It analyzes the famine on a parish-by-parish basis, contemplating the details of daily life, and it situates the Famine in the context of others throughout the world. It includes essays by more than fifty scholars — examining, among other subjects, relief measures and land reform — as well as maps, period illustrations, and archival documents."

During the Great Famine, between 1845 and 1852, over a million Irish people died and nearly one and a half million fled the country, most to North America. The facts and poignant details behind those impossibly hard-to-grasp numbers are all in the atlas. An user gave his review of the book the title, “An Atlas Made Me Cry,” and I think that comment probably provides the best short summary of how powerful this volume is.

The Atlas of the Great Irish Famine has its own website. The book is available for patrons to use at the NEHGS Library, and it is currently offered for purchase on for $66.45.

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