Slack Family Link with the Famine in Attymass

The Slack Family Cottage

By 1827 the Slacks were living in Carrowdoogan so it wasn't long before the lives of the residents were upended by the potato famine of the 1840's. The actual cottage was built of field stones picked from the surrounding fields. It had been originally thatched but in later years part of the thatch was replaced by a tin roof.

The fences or ditches as they are called locally were also built of field stones and several hundred tons of these were also transported to the New York site. The Slack family farm comprised about 10 acres of grazing/tillage land with a plot of bog for peat and some rough grazing as well rights to commonage on the Ox Mountains. The family grew enough potatoes and vegetables to be self-sufficient. Oats were also grown for fodder for cattle and the straw used for thatching. Hay was saved for the cattle for the winter.

The cottage never had its own electricity or running water. Cooking was done on an open fire and fresh water was got from the well nearby. The early 1960's was the last time that the cottage saw life in it. Therefore it had been in ruin for nearly 40 years before it made the trip across the Atlantic.

Attymass and the Famine

Another one of the reasons why the cottage in Carrowdoogan was chosen was because of the link the parish of Attymass had with the Great Irish Famine. The first deaths from hunger in Ireland were officially recorded in the parish.

On 19th November 1846 the parish priest Fr. Michael O'Flynn wrote to the local justice of the peace George Vaughan Jackson and informed him that four persons had died from hunger in his parish recently. Like any other rural community, Attymass was to be torn apart completely by death, starvation and emigration.