Synopses & Reviews
Many thousands of Irish peasants fled from the country in the terrible famine winter of 1847-48, following the road to the ports and the Liverpool ferries to make the dangerous passage across the Atlantic. The human toll of "Black '47," the worst year of the famine, is notorious, but the lives of the emigrants themselves have remained largely hidden, untold because of their previous obscurity and deep poverty. In The End of Hidden Ireland, Scally brings their lives to light. Focusing on the townland of Ballykilcline in Roscommon, Scally offers a richly detailed portrait of Irish rural life on the eve of the catastrophe. From their internal lives and values, to their violent conflict with the English Crown, from rent strikes to the potato blight, he takes the emigrants on each stage of their journey out of Ireland to New York. Along the way, he offers rare insights into the character and mentality of the immigrants as they arrived in America in their millions during the famine years. Hailed as a distinguished work of social history, this book also is a tale of adventure and human survival, one that does justice to a tragic generation with sympathy but without sentiment.
"Engrossing and imaginative....The End of Hidden Ireland opens a window on a lost world in the process of becoming lost. Robert James Scally combines the labor of an archivist with the speculative verve of an historian of mentalities."--The Washington Post
"Well written and well researched, a distinct contribution to the subject."--Kirkus Reviews
"On the 150th anniversary of the Irish Famine, no memorial to the victims could be more fitting or more moving than Robert Scally's spectacular recreation of the life and death of the community of Ballykilcline. Painstakingly researched, lucidly written, his work provides a sudden and intimate access to a world and a series of individual lives cruelly destroyed during the terrible forties of the last century."--Seamus Deane, University of Notre Dame
"Scally's book is compulsively readable, an intimate and humane portrait of a society on the brink of dissolution."--Kevin Whelan, Royal Irish Academy, Dublin
"Professor Scally's meticulously researched book is a valuable addition to the growing body of work on the socio-political organization of rural life in Ireland in the first half of the last century. The publication of this book is a fitting memorial to the 500 or so Balykilcline tenants who, weakened by famine, packed their meager possessions in May 1848 and headed for America."--Luke Dodd, Director, National Famine Museum of Ireland
Traces the emigration of an entire Irish village at the time of the Great Famine from their home, through Liverpool, to America. The author's textured analysis of Irish society "from the bottom up" stresses changing mentalities and the hidden pressures of famine.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 237-259) and index.
About the Author
Robert James Scally
is Professor of History and Director of the Glucksman Ireland House at New York University.