Irish Famine Research Project - UCD Digital Library

Irish Famine Research Project

Abstract: Indexes and representative data compiled by the National Famine Commemoration Project in the Parsonstown, Ennistymon, Inishowen and Rathdrum Unions.

In collection Irish Virtual Research Library and Archive (IVLRA)

Original version
Date created:
Type of Resource
software, multimedia
Physical description
10 data files (application/ — Digital origin: born digital
Scope and Content
This project continues the work done under the National Famine Commemoration Project, which was established at the end of 1995 and began operation the following year to mark the 150th anniversary of the Great Irish Famine. The focus of the current IVRLA research project is on collecting the data from the earlier project into a form that can be easily accessible through the IVRLA. The emphasis is on the workhouses and, more precisely, on the Indoor Relief Registers.
The principal investigators on the National Famine Commemoration Project were Mary E. Daly and Cormac Ó Gráda from UCD and David Dickson and David Fitzpatrick from Trinity College Dublin. The project researchers were Andrés Eiríksson, Catherine Cox and Desmond McCabe. The researchers compiled data bases from the workhouse registers and other documents belonging to the governing bodies of several poor law unions from around the time of the Famine and analysed this data to produce detailed tables and reports for each union. One of the most important sources was the Indoor Relief Registers (IRR), in which the name and the personal details of each workhouse inmate were supposed to be recorded. This provided a most important and hitherto untapped source of information about Irish people during the Famine and the operation of the workhouses and union management. The research into each union concluded with a written report, centered around the Indoor Relief Registers, but augmented by other sources, such as Board of Guardian Minute Books, local medical and hospital reports, local newspapers, local baptismal and commentary records, reports on workhouses and unions in Parliamentary Papers, censuses and various others. There was also a considerable focus on the economy and demography of the union, with variables computed for each electoral division on issues such as Poor Law valuation, population density, population decrease, housing, farm size, land under tillage, land under potatoes, land under conacre and many more.
The original project covered eight unions; this project drew from original research reports for four of those unions as follows: (1) Catherine Cox. "Inishowen Poor Law Union: 1843-1852" (2) - Catherine Cox. "Rathdrum Poor Law Union: 1843-1852" (3) Andrés Eiríksson. "Ennistymon Poor Law Union: 1844-1855" (4) Andrés Eiríksson. "Parsontown Poor Law Union: 1842-1855."
The original research has now been made available in two ways: (1) For each of the four unions there are statistical tables and graphs primarily based on the Indoor Relief Registers (IRR), but augmented when required by sources such as union minute books, medical reports, local newspapers, parliamentary papers, censuses etc. There are approximately 20 tables or graphs for each union. Many of these were produced as part of the original project and for this project they have been reviewed, corrected, and reformatted; in some cases additional analysis has also been provided. (2) The original raw data, as compiled by the earlier researchers and as reformatted and corrected (where required) for this project, has been made available as excel files.
As the original records were not always kept consistently, it has sometimes been necessary to refer to other sources or make estimations. Details of all such estimations or alternative sources are given for each union in the final research report and users should refer to the report for such explanations. The statistical tables provide researchers with some indication of what can be done with the IRR excel files while the raw data gives researchers access to original data; together they are a significant resource for scholars of the Irish Famine.
The research team wishes to thank Dr Catherine Cox most sincerely for permitting her research under the National Famine Commemoration Project to be used in this project and for her help in accessing the relevant files. We are also grateful to the joint principal investigators of that project, Professor David Dickson and Professor David Fitzpatrick, for allowing the material to be made available as part of the IVRLA.
The thumbnail image is of the girls' dormitory in the attic at Birr (formerly Parsonstown) Workhouse, 2004. Image courtesy of Margaret Hogan.
Excel spreadsheet Dataset   linked data (dct) Database Index
Inishowen Union (County Donegal, Ireland)
Parsonstown Union (County Offaly, Ireland)
Ennistymon Union (County Clare, Ireland)
Rathdrum Union (County Wicklow, Ireland)
Ireland--History--Famine, 1845-1852   linked data (lcsh)
Databases   linked data (lcsh)
UCD School of Irish, Celtic Studies, Irish Folklore and Linguistics. National Folklore Collection UCD. Irish Famine Research Project
Funded by the Higher Education Authority, Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions, Cycle 3.

Record source
Metadata creation date: 2009-12-08 — Prepared by IVRLA project staff, UCD Library, University College Dublin. Finding aid encoded in EAD by the Irish Virtual Research Library and Archive (IVRLA) - RM., 18 December 2009

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