Famine account as inscribed on plaque
Medical Officers report of May 22nd 1847;
During the past two months the number of those suffering from fever, dysentry and measles averaged 220 per week and 153 inmates died during that period. The workhouse is not only a great hospital for which it was never intended or adapted, but an engine for producing disease and death, as a fearful proportion of the admitted in health fall victim of the fever in a few days due to the crowded state of the house.
Dr. Thonas Taylor, M.O. of the Workhouse reported on Dec. 19th 1846:
Nearly one sixth of the entire number in the house are in fever. Hot coffee continues to be given to these patients instead of milk and nothing could be more improper and cruel, as they were tormented with thirst which coffee will not quench. This drink also retards recovery and promotes a fatal termination. For want of straw, up to four patients lie in each bed while convalescents cannot rise for want of fire and clothing.
Lord Landsdowne's agent William Stuart Trench calculated that 5,000 people had died from starvation in the union. They died on the roads and in the fields; they died on the mountains and in the glens; they died at the relief works and in their houses; so that little streets and villages were left almost without an inhabitant: and at least some few, despairing of help in the country, crawled into the town and died at the doors of the residents and outside the workhouse walls.
During the summer of 1849 some of the townsfolk became alarmed at daily passages of carts from the Workhouse bearing the remains of inmates who had perished during the outbreak of the dreaded cholera disease. An objection was made against the practice of interring these "outsiders" in Kenmare Old, the cemetery having become so much overcrowded as to make it offensive if not dangerous. The pauper burial parties were issued with a daily ration of tobacco or snuff as a preventative to contagion.
...... Mary, 18 yrs. old Mary Anne Connor of Kenmare was listed among 25 orphan girls in the Workhouse, with an industrial and domestic education suitable for colonial life. On Nov. 29th 1849, this party of girls arrived at Penrose Quay in Cork from whence they journeyed to Plymouth to board a ship for Australia. An organised scheme was put in place by Trench during the following decade which removed about 5,000 survivors of the Famine from Kenmare for various parts of North America.
This document last modified: Aug 9, 2001.