It was a truly modern famine and the greatest social disaster in nineteenth-century Europe. Over a million people perished and a further million and a quarter fled the country. The Great Irish Famine project on RTE.ie/history will tell the story of the disaster, from the failure of British policy in Ireland to the generosity of the Choctaw Nation, from the roles played by women during the Famine to the effects of Irish emigration all over the world, from evictions to food riots.
These stories will be richly illustrated with paintings, portraits, newspaper illustrations, cartoons, artefacts and photographs of the surviving traces of the world before the Famine and the devastation that followed. Following its launch on November 30 2020, The Great Irish Famine project will continue to publish a large range of articles tracing the full story of the Famine from the emergence of the Blight to the commemorations of the 21st century.
The launch coincides with a new documentary, The Hunger: The Story of the Irish Famine, narrated by Liam Neeson, that airs on RTE 1 on November 30 at 21.35.
"This year marks the 175th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Irish Famine (1845-1852), an event that occupies not only a central place in Irish history but also the history of the Irish in the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia," says Dr John Crowley of University College Cork.
"This collaborative project brings together ongoing research on the Famine that provides new perspectives and new ways of seeing an event that had such a profound influence on shaping the course of modern Irish history'.
This project is the product of a partnership between RTÉ History, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine edited by John Crowley, William J. Smyth and Mike Murphy.
"The Great Irish Famine is an exhaustive online section, created in partnership with UCC, that complements the other sections of Rte.ie/history - Century Ireland, 1916 Rising and the War of Independence," says Neil. Leyden, head of RTE.ie.
"Our aim is to curate the entirety of RTÉ's historical content from across our platforms to give our audience a deeper understanding of Irish identity. The Great Irish Famine is, in many ways, the defining event of modern Irish history and core to understanding us as a nation and a diaspora. "
Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD said, "The Great Famine has been widely recognised as the single most significant event in modern Irish History. I welcome the work of RTÉ and UCC and their partners in producing this documentary and the associated online materials which will provide a valuable and accessible resource for students of that terrible time, both at home and abroad.
The fostering of deeper understanding of historical events is the consistent theme of the Government's approach to commemoration."