This is the first of two documentaries that look into the tragedy that was the Great Famine of Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century.
Although the island was rich with food, 1 million died as a result of a lack of nutrition, most from disease brought on by weakened health. As 1.5 million of the most deprived boarded coffin ships to go to foreign climes, other ships laden with Irish food left the shores to fill the tables of the rich in London. Sometimes the boats filled with human cargo, had to wait in port to allow the vessels filled with food to leave.
The British authorities systemitically marginalized the Irish people, especially those of the Gaelic tradition. Then, when the potato blight hit, those same authorities abandoned the people. It was genocide.
The monarch of England, Vile Victoria, effectively ignored the suffering and death of the Irish. She forced the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Abdülmecid I, to reduce the aid that he was sending to Ireland because it was much more than that which Vile Victoria sent. She did not want to be embarrassed, even if that meant the deaths of Irish men, women and children.
It should be noted that per head, the Quakers did much more to help the starving people than the Catholic Church did. Whilst some of the Catholic clergy tried to assist the people, the bishops and cardinals took no hurt from the Famine. The tables of the Church hierarchy remained filled with greasy food, as their congregations lay in ditches too weak to move, or watched as their broken children withered and died in their mother’s arms.
Ireland has never recovered from the Famine. The Gaelic language struggles for survival. Yet, today, the Gaels of Ulster are moving strongly to hold fast to our Gaelic identity, to embrace our heritage, to defeat colonialism. The rest will follow.
No Irish person should ever forget the lesson of An Gorta Mór. That lesson is, that we need our freedom, complete and unconditional, from Britain. We need our true independence, not a fickle Free State and a six county gerrymander.
We need a Socialist Republic.