Interactive map shows devastating impact of Ireland’s Great Famine at local level

Interactive map shows devastating impact of Ireland’s Great Famine at local level

THE devastating impact of the Great Famine in Ireland can now be viewed at a parish by parish level through a new interactive map.

Using census data from 1841 to 1951, and records from Ireland’s Relief Commissioner’s reports from the period, The Irish Famine Project allows you to view the population decrease suffered by individual parish areas as a result of the Famine.

The data reveals that parishes located along the west of Ireland were among the worst affected.

For example, in Lackan, Co. Mayo, a population decrease from 2,943 to 1,166, a loss of 60 per cent, was experienced over the course of the Famine.

Elsewhere in the county, Kilbride saw its figures drop from 1,963 to 1,144, a decrease of 43 per cent.

The civil parish of Ross, in Co. Galway lost 20 per cent of its population through the Famine, with records showing a population of 4,804 pre-Famine and 3,858 following the period.

Similarly, the Co. Galway parish of Moycullen lost 26 per cent of its population, decreasing from 6,420 to 4,720 over the course of the Famine.

Dr Alan Fernihough is the man behind the project, which is entitled The Causes and Consequences of the Great Irish Famine.

An Economics lecturer at Queens University Belfast, he claims he developed the map in order to answer a number of questions around the Famine.

“The Great Irish Famine was a watershed moment in Irish history,” he explains.

“It was the last major non-wartime famine to occur in a Western economy, and its’ impact still resonates across the globe today.

“This project examines both the contributing factors and outcomes of the Famine.”

“This is an empirical project and is thus reliant on data and econometric methods to answer a number questions related to the famine.”

He adds: “These questions include:  To what extent was Pre-Famine Ireland’s poverty driven by overpopulation?  What key factors explain the loss of population between the 1841 and 1851 censuses? Do these aforementioned factors differ between mortality compared to migration?

“The answers one can obtain from empirical data depends very much on the quality of these data. Thus, this project has digitised, compiled, and analysed a wide number of contemporary data sources, such as the 1841 and 1851 census and the reports of the Relief Commissioner’s reports.

"This website serves as an interactive repository for some of the data used in the project.”

The “centrepiece” of the project is the site’s “fully interactive map incorporating data from both the 1841 and 1851 censuses”, Dr Fernihough adds.

“These map data are highly disaggregated, displayed at the civil parish level and users can search for, browse, or use to their location settings to select their parish of interest.”