[very very DRAFT ideas in no particular order]
We are moved by the story of the 1,490 emigrants who left … . We remember them in Strokestown and celebrate their legacy in the places they made home.
But what happens when we view their story with a modern lens? What does their story tell us about hunger and emigration in our own time? And can our connection with them change the way we look at emigrants today?
There’s a popular idea that people ‘flee from famine’. That sounds instinctive. Pure emotion… but the story of famine and emigration is much more complex. More moving parts, economic factors., More villains. And more real people struggling and striving, rather than misty objects of pity etc, .
The ways people leave a famine-hit area are often complex.
The hungriest and the most destitute people cannot outrun grinding poverty. The most vulnerable people struggle to survive the physical stresses that hunger causes. .. have nothing to offer economically.
So, when famine strikes, it’s often the fittest, and the most intrepid people who find a way – or are offered a way – to escape to a better life. [teacher – Tighe]
Assisted migration – a kind of land clearance. Economic motives.
In May 1847 1,490 tenants left from the Strokestown estate for Quebec in British North America (Canada). They were accompanied on their walk to Dublin, by the Royal Canal footway, by the bailiff, John Robinson who was instructed to stay with them all the way to Liverpool and ensure that they boarded the ships. [jou
Vulnerable to predatory figures who promise support when people are at their most vulnerable [traffickers]
The kinds of factors that remain relevant in famine studies today
A Better Life – Economic Migration
When they marched from Strokestown to Dublin port – along a route that is now recognised as Ireland’s National Famine Way, their first aim was survival.
Beyond that their hopes were for a better life overseas.
Assisted Migration [Economic migrants?]
Helping at Home – Remittances
Many would send funds back to their families in Roscommon as soon as they were able. [Remittances]
Joining Family – Chain Migration
Others made a life stable enough for their families to join them, so that their family members could share their better life in Liverpool, Canada or wherever their journey took them. [Chain Migration]
The Emigrant’s Return – Circular Migration
Story of the 1490 is remarkable but it is not unique. It is history, but we have not left it in the past.
Looking at the past and present side by side can be a reminder to see the dignity in today’s famine emigrants and appreciate the positive legacies they will create as they establish themselves in a new place. And create new links with ‘home’.
It can also remind us not to romanticise the past and its complexities, giving us a deeper appreciation of the awful uncertainties and struggles Ireland’s famine emigrants faced.
[Sibh – Ask Heaven Crawley for a quote??]