March 8, 1847
(From Our Correspondent)
DUBLIN, March 1
The Galway papers of Saturday bring lamentable reports of the spread of destitution in that county. A Roman Catholic clergyman (the Rev. Mr. Newel) thus writes of the state of Oranmore and the surrounding district:
"The wholesale destruction of human life, occurring here from want of the necessities of life, is fast approximating to what we have read and heard of Skibbereen a few weeks ago, and we shuddered to have to record deaths from starvation by 'units,' but now, alas, we have to compute them by dozens! No less than 54 individuals (men, women, children) have perished of want since December last in th parishes of Oranmore and Ballinacourty; and if the Government, from any compunctious feelings, shall required to ascertain, through their "Relief Commissionerss,' the number of starved wretches provided for in the grave, I shall be able to furnish them with a truly black list, well authenticated, showing the names, and residences of the person victimised here, to the so much spoken of political economy of our rulers. Hitherto, the Relig Committee here have given coffins for the interment of starved dead -- but they are becoming so numerous now that it has been resolved, instead of procuring the common decency of burial for the dead, to reserve the relief fund for the support of the living. I fear much that the want of coffins for the burial of the dead will cause them to be unburied, and to generate infection, more disastrous to human life than the wantof food itself. The unusual occurrence here of a human being having been interred without the decency of a coffin took place (as I have heard) in the parish of Ballinacourty a few days ago, when the corpse, after five or six days unburied, was at last sacked up in a coarse canvas and deposited in its parent earth. Another horrifying circumstance occurred near Oranmore, of a poor wretched woman named Redington, perishing during the night time, and in the morning her lifeless body was found partially devoured by rats."
A letter from Loughrea, published in the Galway Mercury, contains the following passage. The writer evidently labours under the anti-Russell mania:
"The distress in Loughrea at present is at its utmost height; and any alleviation of that daily increasing distress need not be expected, at least from the Whig Government. That such is the general and growing opinion of almost the entire rural population might be easily inferred from the expressions of unqualified condemnation which were given vent to by all of them with whom I, on this day, happened to hold any conversation. They believe that the Government are determined to systematically put to death one half of the people. With such an opinion daily gaining ground, it is not easy to calculate how long, or why, the Whigs ought to remain in place and power. Under their regime provisions have risen to double the famine price. On this day (Thursday) wheat has been sold at from 55s. to 60s. per barrel, and oats reached up to the enormous price of from 29s. to 30s. per barrel, and who can tell but that, a few markets hence, the above articles may reach so high as to be almost above purchase. It is no wonder then that the people should be panic-stricken, especially when the wisest and best amongst us has no hope in the Whig Administration."