Few commemorative events have captured the public, private and political imagination as did the 150th anniversary of Ireland’s An Gorta Mhór, the Great Hunger or Famine.4 Significantly, Blair’s address provided an open admission that the Great Famine was as much a part of Britain’s history as Ireland’s. The same point had frequently been made in Ireland. In 1995, the well-respected broadsheet, the Irish Times, had declared that ‘the Great Famine was the most culpable episode in the troubled rule of Britain and Ireland’.5 Yet, despite the general acceptance of the awfulness and significance of the Famine, it was rarely taught in Irish schools or universities and little had been published on it. Instead, the dominant school of thought within Irish history, known generically as revisionism, had argued that the Famine was not a significant event in modern Irish history, but that it merely acted as a catalyst for changes which were occurring anyway.6 Moreover, the Famine was depicted as inevitable and it was suggested that the British government could have done little more than they did to save lives.7 This interpretation had dominated academic discourse since the 1930s, with varying degrees of intensity. One of its key purposes was to revise the traditional nationalist or popular interpretation of the Famine, whilst claiming that it had no political purpose of its own.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Remembering the Famine
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number