Letter to The Times from P.P. in 1847
This is the text of a letter written by the Parish Priest to The Times at the height of the famine in 1847.
Sir, Your numerous appeals in favour of the Irish destitution embolden me to address you and crave your sympathy in favour of my starving parishioners. Two months ago they exceeded 6,000 souls; they are now considerably reduced below that number -- death, by starvation, has made its fearful ravages. This weeks two persons have died of hunger, one a girl named Mary Dodd, of Barcoll, aged 16 years, the other a man named James O'Donnell, of Sownaclane, aged 53 years.
I attended another last night, named William Falles, dying of starvation. Of the entire number of about 5,950 now living, I solemnly declare, to the best of my opinion, that not more than 200 of them have more to support nature than half a meal in 24 hours. The corn is all gone; not even the seed for the ensuing year remains. The turnips are all used. We have no Indian meal. The very small quantity of oatmeal to be found is selling at 28s per 112 lb. Indian meal is not to be had in Sligo for less than 19 l. per ton.
The people on the public works are not permitted to earn more than 3s. per week. They could earn more if permitted to bring their families. Such a rational coarse the Board of Works will not permit. Oh, Sir, if ever suffering humanity commanded your sympathy, the dying destitution of my parishioners loudly does so. Day and night I am importuned for food.
I have the honour to remain,
Your very obedient humble servant,
John Coghlan, P.P.
Kilkelly, county of Mayo.