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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tim Pat Coogan uncovers the Great Famine 'plot', 20 Dec 2012
This review is from: The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy (Hardcover)
Tim Pat Coogan has done Irish historical studies a service by examining carefully British governmental and administrative policy towards Ireland during the 1840s, and it still is a narrative that shocks. The Great Famine was variously referred to as The Great Hunger, or An Gorta Mor. But it was also known as The Great Silence', which can be understood in two different ways. Large areas of rural Ireland, particularly in the West and South-West and North-West were so de-populated that literally these areas went silent. But another way to understand the term 'The Great Silence' is that many, many Irish people who survived the Famine would not talk about it because they were too traumatised by its horrors to speak of it. And for several generations afterwards the topic was not properly examined by the historians and academics. The 1930-60 generation of Irish academic historians (revisionists) almost bent over backwards to explain and excuse the British administrations of the 1840s in terms of laissez faire economic policies and Malthusian theories: 'A million deaths might not be enough to solve the problem ... for the big landowners... etc. We still have our forelock-tuggers who baulk at criticising the British administrators. The minds of these people are still colonised. Hats off to Tim Pat Coogan for having the courage to call it for what it was ... genocide, an Irish holocaust offered up to the free market economy. [Hugh McFadden]
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Apr 2013 20:25:01 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Apr 2013 13:16:30 BDT
T. S. C. says:
As someone who is technically English, but with Irish ancestry on both the maternal and paternal side, I have often felt a twinge of anger towards the Famine but have not really known a great deal about it, if anything to be honest. My instincts, knowing that Ireland was invaded many times by the English and the Irish therefore persecuted by the English, are that the Famine was helped along somewhat, even if that was just the British administration at the time turning a blind eye. I suppose now that I am older, and understand the often immense racism directed towards the Irish (and the Celtic 'fringe' in general) from some of the English, my anger is more profound and heartfelt. It wasn't just that hundreds of thousands of Irish perished, and nobody seemed to give a toss one way or the other, it's that many more were cast to the four winds and often ended up at the bottom of the social pile in America or Canada or Australia and New Zealand, and of course England. The Irish Famine IS a holocaust, it is OUR holocaust, just as we might talk about the Jewish Holocaust or the Slave Trade; these things diminished the Irish, the Jews and Africans and are stains on humanity. I feel that many Irish people today, those living in Ireland and those scattered throughout the globe, still cannot talk about this tragedy without feeling an overwhelming sense of anger, loss, sadness and a deep sense of bitterness that cannot appear to be resolved; is it any wonder that many Irish people do not want to dredge it up again and again? We live in the detritus of all these horrors, and perhaps we may never fully get to the real truth of the Famine, but we know somewhere that a deep injustice occurred. All we can do is try to be the people who would never cause such a thing and be the people who don't turn a blind eye to injustice.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 May 2013 17:58:46 BDT
M. Green says:
Not sure how indifference and a lack of will to help in a significant way equates to being a holocaust. A holocaust is a deliberate attempt to murder on a large scale a group of people. A blind eye has been turned on many occasions in Ireland including the Jews and knowingly allow Nazi War Criminals in the country and permit in under changed identities, likewise decades of known child abuse by the same institututions responsible for caring for vulnerable and largely helpless children the same can be said of young girls who had an unwanted pregnancy held captive and abused. Only recently has the Irish public begun to start to discuss those issues whilst the guilty have not been pursued.

Given the treatment the the Jews and Gypsies received following the fall of the Nazis I am sure both groups would not be best pleased with such comparisons you have made.

The Irish who emigrated were at the bottom of the social pile, treatment of Irish higher up the social ladder was far more pleasant.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jul 2013 17:29:19 BDT
Last edited by the author on 6 Jul 2013 17:30:13 BDT
T. S. C. says:
'Given the treatment the the Jews and Gypsies received following the fall of the Nazis I am sure both groups would not be best pleased with such comparisons you have made.'

Many people of Irish descent might disagree with you, but I respect your point mate. Some people say that much of the Famine was indeed engineered and that there was a wilfulness to allow people to die when they could have been helped. Holocaust, or not, there are unanswered questions that we might never get to the bottom of and when up to a million people starved to death and millions more scattered across the world to escape the same fate, it seems to me that a great injustice was committed or allowed to happen with few people in power concerned in any way.

'The Irish who emigrated were at the bottom of the social pile, treatment of Irish higher up the social ladder was far more pleasant.'

Well I was aware of that obviously. People rarely emigrate if they are already wealthy do they, it's usually poorer people at any rate.
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