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What about the great famine?

category leitrim | history and heritage | opinion/analysis author Tuesday May 30, 2006 13:13author by woman Report this post to the editors

Following the Palme d'Or at the Cnnes festival

Historic movies about ireland seem to always make it big on the big screen but at what costs? Whose authorisation is required ? What about the famine? The mass grave where 5000 poor of the district were buried near my house is also a story to tell! Why can't a fim maker make a movie about the great famine? So that Irish Americans can see what their forefathers lived through before emigrating to the USA. This is a story that needs to be told! From the fact that the people were to starve, food supplies they needed withdrawn from them, workhouses, emigration aboard coffun ships etc. The world needs to know!!!

My friend lives in NYS. She has been trying to trace her roots for over 15 years, paid megabucks for information offered (Often flawed). All she has from home are 1 handful of soil from Moher Gregg (Where her forefather came from), dried ivy from Aughaginny (Where his wife originated from), dried leaves from Drumshanbo (Nearest willage to where they lived) and moss from the iron mountain (Sorry can't pronouce or write it in gaelic) which is at the foot of Moher Gregg.

Linda felt so happy when finding out that the movie about the black and tan war had won Palme d'Or at the Cannes festival. She e-mailed me, feeling so excited to then ask me the following "They've shown Michael Collins, the hungerstrike, the black and tans, i wish someone would tell me why they have not made any movie about the famine because, damnit! If it wasn't for the famine, I would be living in Leitrim, know my family and relations, instead of being Irish American and not able to find out where my genes came from"

It is my belief that such a film should be made. I have often wondered about the reluctance to discuss the famine. Living in a county that suffered great losses in human lives during this time, is only beginning to recover slowly ... I wonder why no one has deemed fit to tell the world about it, not in books but in a film!

You see i feel for the 5000 buried in a mass grave minutes from my house. 5000 men, women and children thrown in a mass grave, with no record, no name to etch on a stone, and as for a stone ... If it wasn't for the Irish American of new York, there would be no plaque to tell us where the poor of the district were buried. The graveyard was a sham until our Parish Priest saw it and enrolled FAS to help clear him, cut the grass etc ... Give those who endured untold agony and hardship some dignity. I wonder why the Irish governement hasn't seen fit to do something about it! Ireland is the land of memorials, you find them anywhere, everywhere, so why not something there, more than a plaque, to tell those who will venture in happen to tread over 5000 people? This is only drumshanbo i'm talking about! What about the poor who took to the workhouse? It's still up there! A hospital now, in Carrick On Shannon, known as Saint Patrick. Famine graveyard at the bottom of a steep hill because it was easier to throw the dead, and probably dying through a trap and down they went ... Piled on the top of each other! Goodness knows how many were buried there!

Naturally i'm talking about leitrim because it is where i live but it happened everywhere else in Ireland. If anyone ever read 'The Irish Journals of Elizabeth Smith' then they'll ahve a good idea as to how it was, and when you know Elizabeth Smith wasn't Irish, but British, then they'll understand what the population endured.

I have lost count of the number of films descrivbing the horrors of genocides, yet of all, the great famine was the greatest genocide ever! So why not make a film about it! What is wrong with film makers when they choose not to address this frightful topic? Is it because permission might be denied at governmental level? I'd like to know what it is! And why!!!

Some people might object that it was no genocide, simply a problem with potato crops but as a friend pointed out to me .... Irish seas are still of fish, alwasy were, why did they not go fishing? Because they were forbidden access to the sea! Hence deprived of a source of food. And someone tells me why, while they were starving to death ... Food kept being exported toBbritain, food from Ireland!!! So pray tell me why this doesn't justify a film made, because, and same as Linda ... I want to know!!!


author by Irish American Lindapublication date Wed May 31, 2006 00:46Report this post to the editors

Has anyone seen the movie "The Killing Fields"?? This is a drama about an American and a Cambodian journalist trying to flee Cambodia during the terror of Pol Pot....Why cant someone create a great drama with the Irish Famine as the backdrop?? Unfortunately, schoolbooks give a brief and usually sanitized version of Irish history. If we want to reach the masses, it has to be done through the media such as films...This is how many of us learned about the Cambodian atrocities....

I want to publicly thank my friend "Woman" for writing this article. I am the Linda mentioned, searching for my ancestors and she has been a great help...I grew up hearing stories of Ireland from my grandparents and could feel their longing for the "old country". My family lived in Queens NY and we had 1st, 2nd and 3rd cousins that lived nearby. They kept "a little bit of Ireland" alive and well on 247th Street!!

With all that I've learned of Ireland and her strong and proud people, I too long for the old country and wish our ancestor's stories could be told! The Irish have survived great tragedy throughout history, yet, they remain upbeat, friendly and loyal to their loved ones and their country. And I have yet to speak with a nicer group of people. I am proud to be of Irish descent!!

author by seedotpublication date Wed May 31, 2006 02:03Report this post to the editors

in the meantime read Liam O'Flaherty

and pray to the great god hollywood

for understanding

author by Ronakipublication date Fri Sep 08, 2006 18:24author email Ronaki at web dot deReport this post to the editors

How many in Drumshanbo know of it's past? I for one don't, and those I knew were few. O'Kief, Woods Mooney and Mc Manus but a few. More often than not it was the guests to the town who showed any interest in the towns history. But perhaps things have changed. I left 20 years ago.

author by PeggyLpublication date Thu Mar 27, 2008 23:48author email pleon112 at aol dot comReport this post to the editors

Can you tell me where was and what was the name of the Poor House for those born in Manorhamilton? A friend's father was born in the Manorhamilton Poor House in the late 1800s. I Googled this page. Thanks for shedding any light on the subject. I believe the man's name was Mulligan, and he was raised by his maternal grandparents, McSharry (McSherry?) (PLeon112@aol.com) Thanks! Peggy L.

author by lyncher - eirepublication date Fri Mar 28, 2008 10:25author email p.elynch at hotmail dot comReport this post to the editors

in my view the brits took advantage of the famine we were at our weakest as people and never recovered to this day they killed our language exported our people to speak their language in the us australia and so on thats the brittish for you if you were caught stealing a piece of corn you were sent on the prision ship our culture died in 1845 if they did make a film it would be a very emotional one for the irish and hurtful but never the less it would be nice to have their story told in film as it would be a great tribute to their memory may their souls rest in peace and may they look over and guide us in the future .

author by Cael - Sinn Feinpublication date Fri Mar 28, 2008 19:42Report this post to the editors

There is a lot of information compiled on the subject at the related link:

Related Link: http://admin2.7.forumer.com/viewtopic.php?t=6645
author by o as ifpublication date Sat Mar 29, 2008 00:19Report this post to the editors

computer animation - I suppose. Photoshop on the megascale airbrushing out the modern portly plump and stout john bull appearing gael and then putting in literally millions of skeletons like zombies building roads to nowhere but (& check this out for the twist in the tale!) they all have white skin!

They could do prequels too.

You've seen the Famine the movie brought to you by the people who Bertie couldn't justify increasing make poverty history donations to Africa. Great wasn't it? Your kids have the computer game. Well the wonders of Irish History epic cinema are back - "Cromwell the Irish side". & to be really ironic this second movie made on Cromwell won't use an Irish born actor in the title role (c/f http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cromwell_(film) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Harris ) but an up and coming Billy Barry token pretty ethnic migrant kiddy.

See the population drop by half. See the genocide topped with ethnic cleansing. See the planters daughter fall in love with papist hidden in the wood. See the Cromwellian plantations asimulated. See them convert to catholicism and speak Irish in three generations. See the nation heal. Oooooooops - that's not your idea of the movie is it?

author by J. Hartepublication date Sat Mar 29, 2008 07:05Report this post to the editors

PeggyL, I don't recall the name of that Poor House, but some years ago while touring North Leitrim I visited the site of the famine graveyard behind the remaining building of that poorhouse in Manorhamilton. They did up the site and erected a monument with plaque around 1996 when government encouraged commemorations of the 150th anniversary of an Gorta Mor. The old building had been converted into offices of the North-Western Health Board (since then superseded by HSE - dunno what they use the building for nowadays - it's somewhere behind the more modern building of Our Lady's Hospital on the Glenfarne/Enniskillen road in Manorhamilton.
An oil painting of the poorhouse can be viewed on display at the North Glens Center, an old Methodist hall that was usefully turned into an arts centre with interregional funds in 1999.
Check it out here: http://www.theglenscentre.com/ Good luck with your enquiries.

author by Peggypublication date Sun Mar 30, 2008 16:46Report this post to the editors

J. Harte. Thanks so much for your quick and informative reply. It's a help.

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