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Victims of Ireland'S Great FamineThe Bioarchaeology of Mass Burials at Kilkenny Union Workhouse$
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Jonny Geber

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780813061177

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813061177.001.0001

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“An entire nation of paupers”

“An entire nation of paupers”

Contextualizing Poverty and Famine in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Ireland and Kilkenny

(p.20) 2 “An entire nation of paupers”
Victims of Ireland'S Great Famine

Jonny Geber

University Press of Florida

Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century was characterized by widespread poverty, and a large part of the population was completely dependent on the potato for subsistence. When a blight destroyed the crop from 1845 onward, Ireland suffered a famine that resulted in nearly one million deaths. The poor of Kilkenny City and County were devastated by the famine, and thousands sought help in the union workhouse. As mortality rates increased in the institution and local city cemeteries overfilled with recent burials, there was no other choice than to resort to intramural interments. Despite the workhouse’s logistical and economic difficulties, the deceased inmates were buried in shrouds and coffins, suggesting an attempt by the workhouse management to maintain to some degree the dignity of the famine victims.

Keywords:   blight, institution, intramural, Ireland, Kilkenny, mortality, potato, poverty, workhouse

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