Robert Gelms's Reviews > The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy

The Famine Plot by Tim Pat Coogan
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review

it was amazing

The Final Solution
By Bob Gelms
Tim Pat Coogan is one of Ireland’s greatest historians. His book, The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy, steps a long way toward healing the horrendous British Government attempt to deliberately kill as many Irish peasants as possible using a conjured-up potato famine as the cause of so many Irish deaths from starvation.
This book was very hard to read. It stirred up a myriad of emotions and memories of talks I had with my grandmother. I wanted to write about this book in context of my family’s connection to the Great Hunger. I didn’t think anyone would be interested, but my editor, Katrina Wilberding, said it would be OK because most people know I’m Irish, and, as everyone knows, I always do what Trina tells me to do.
The Irish potato crop did fail a number of times from 1845 to 1852. The hardest hit county in the country was County Mayo in the west of Ireland. Nearly 60% of Mayo’s population died of starvation and another 20% to 30% of the population left Mayo for other destinations in Ireland, America, Canada, and Australia. The remaining 10% survived a living hell on Earth.
Among the survivors were my great- and great-great-grandparents. My grandfather was born and raised near a Mayo town call Castlebar and my grandmother in the ancient village of Mayo Abby. They both heard stories of the Great Hunger from the people who lived through it. Nanny passed those stories on to me and they frightened me. As I grew older the fear mixed with anger and outrage .
When my Grandmother described her feelings for the British Government, she used very strong words. She didn’t say them in English, she said them in Irish. She thought I didn’t know what she said. My Grandfather and his buddies taught me those words. They were, let’s say, colorful.
Mr. Coogan writes about the one man in the British Government who, more than anybody, was responsible for the attempted genocide, Sir Charles Trevelyan. He was the Assistant Secretary to HM Treasury and was put in charge of administering relief to the Irish people. Here is an example of how Sir Charles thought about the Irish and how he intended to organized his job. He said, “The judgment of God sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson, that calamity must not be too much mitigated. The real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the Irish people.”
Under Trevelyan, Irish peasants had to suffer the mortification of seeing British ships laden with food sailing from Irish ports during the Famine. There was plenty of food in Ireland. Trevelyan made sure it was all sent to England. He, in fact, sent back a whole cargo ship full of grain donated by the King of Turkey. There was no official explanation why that happened. Mr. Coogan reports that the Irish economy supplied British cities with 83% of their beef, 79% of their butter, and 86% of their pork. It’s not likely that the Irish peasants had enough money to afford this food at market prices but with assistance in fixing lower prices or with relief assistance from Trevelyan, that food could have saved an enormous number of lives.
Let’s say you were a tenant on a British estate in Ireland. As was exceedingly common, your family and extended family live in a one room house. Everybody works in the fields. Half of them die of starvation. You don’t have enough people working in the fields to make the rent. The British overlord evicts you and burns your house to the ground. Now you have no job, nowhere to live, no money, no food, and all of your meager possessions burned up. Mr. Coogan points out that this was dreadfully frequent and widespread.
There is one account of an enormous British estate, the owner of which decided he needed the land on which stood the tenant houses. He evicted 400 families, burned all the houses, turned the land into pasture for his booming cattle business - in the middle of a famine - and sent all the beef to London.
By setting up the system so that the Irish would either die by the hundred-fold or just leave the country, Trevelyan had his eye on the future. There was a hidden benefit. In the almost certain circumstance where the Irish would revolt, all the able-bodied men who would have joined the IRA were dead or emigrated…. all except my Grandfather.
The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy by Tim Pat Coogan is the horrifying untold story of the so-called Irish Potato Famine. It’s a very old story happing over and over again. It happened to Native Americans, it happened to Jews, and this time it happened to the Irish.
“Dia bean na Gaeilge” God bless the Irish.


Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Famine Plot.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 13, 2017 – Shelved

No comments have been added yet.