An old illustration of lady Ireland fighting with a Famine phantom

Famines in Ireland Before 1845 and After 1852

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June 12–15, 2019

The Great Hunger of 1845 to 1852 cast a long shadow over the subsequent history of Ireland and its diaspora. Since 1995, there has been a renewed interest in studying this event by scholars, students, archaeologists, artists, musicians and folklorists. This interest shows no sign of abating. New research, methodologies and approaches have greatly added to our understanding of the causes, impact and legacies of this tragedy. 

The focus on the Great Hunger has overshadowed other periods of famine and food shortages in Ireland and their influences on a society in which poverty, hunger, emigration, and even death, were part of the life cycle and not unique to the 1840s.

“Famines in Ireland Before 1845 and After 1852” explored the impact of these intermittent crises on the people of Ireland.

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Keynote Speakers

Keynote speakers

The following speakers presented at the conference:

Gerard Moran is a researcher at the Social Science Research Centre at NUI, Galway. He also has lectured at Maynooth University. Moran has published extensively on 19th-century Ireland, including the acclaimed “Sending Out Ireland’s Poor” (Four Courts Press, 2013) and “Fleeing from Famine in Connemara” (Four Courts Press, 2018). He is also an editor and contributor to “Children and the Great Hunger” (Quinnipiac and Cork University Press, 2018).  

Niamh Ann Kelly lectures in contemporary visual culture at the Dublin School of Creative Arts, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland. She has published widely on her research interests of contemporary art, histories of art and commemorative visual cultures of monuments, museums and heritage practices. Her recent publications are monographs focused on visual cultures of famine: “Ultimate Witnesses: The Visual Culture of Death, Burial and Mourning in Famine Ireland,” Famine Folio Series (Quinnipiac University Press, 2017) and “Imaging the Great Irish Famine: Representing Dispossession in Visual Culture” (I.B. Tauris, 2018).

Paper by Dr. Niamh Ann Kelly 
“Famine in Art: Imagery, Influences and Exhibition in Mid-Twentieth-Century Ireland”
Thomas Davis and the Young Ireland Movement Centenary Exhibition of Pictures of Irish Historical Interest, Dublin 1946.

Mary P. Corcoran is a graduate of the University of Dublin, Trinity College and Columbia University, New York. She is Professor of Sociology at Maynooth University, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Social Science and a Fulbright-EPA Visiting Scholar at Quinnipiac University for Fall 2018. She was previously a Visiting Professor in Irish Studies and Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. Her research and teaching interests lie primarily in the fields of urban sociology, public culture and the sociology of migration. The author/editor of 11 books, she has also published widely in scholarly journals and anthologies.

Mary has a life-long commitment to promoting the discipline of sociology beyond the academy. She achieves this through outreach and engagement with government institutions, community groups, civil society organizations, arts practitioners and the media. She serves on a number of boards and was most recently appointed by the Minister for Rural and Community Development to the Western Development Commission, a statutory body that was set up to promote both social and economic development in the less developed Western region of Ireland.

Mary’s current research interest is in food policy, environmental stewardship and the promotion of urban agriculture.

Paper by Dr. Mary Corcoran
Tornaghi, in a recent critical review of urban agriculture research, argues that we still lack a systematic analysis of “the geography of urban food cultivation and its relations with the politics of space,” (2014, p. 3). Many cities are now attempting to address the question of food democracy by challenging food production, consumption and distribution systems. There is a considerable body of research on the breadth and range of bottom-up initiatives that frequently model innovation, entrepreneurship and social inclusion strategies through a wide range of urban food initiatives. Many of these address the serious inequities that have arisen in relation to food that mirror inequities in wider society. For some sectors of the population, there are problems of access to, and affordability of food even in the richest countries of the Global North. Adapting a case study approach, this paper outlines the significance of food democracy initiatives in the city of New Haven, Connecticut. In particular, three factors emerge as key in determining the political-economy of the food landscape: a strong communitarian ethos at grassroots level operationalized through nonprofit organizations, a fiscally weak municipality and a growing recognition of the systematic inequities — both historical and contemporary — that disproportionately impact people of colour. The latter see food justice as one arena where it may be possible to achieve a degree of restitution in the short-term, and progressive social change in the long-term.

Christine Kinealy is founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University. She has published extensively on the Famine, including the award-winning, “This Great Calamity. The Great Irish Famine, 1845–52” (Gill and Macmillan, 1994 and 2007) and “Charity and the Great Hunger” (Bloomsbury Press, 2013). Her most recent research has focused on the abolition movement in Ireland, and her most recent publication is “Frederick Douglass and Ireland: In His Own Words” (Routledge, 2018).

Event Schedule

Event schedule

Unless otherwise noted, all conference events took place on Quinnipiac University's York Hill Campus. Transportation will be provided between conference venues.

Wednesday, June 12

1-3 p.m. — Registration

3-4 p.m. — Welcome and book launches. Reception sponsored by the History Department at Quinnipiac University. Welcome remarks by Dr. Robert Smart, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

4:15 p.m. — Travel by shuttle to Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum

4:30-5:30 p.m. — Reception and tour of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum

5:30-6:30 p.m. — Keynote lecture at Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum 

Dr. Niamh Ann Kelly, Technological University, Dublin, “Famine in Art:  Imagery, Influences and Exhibition in Mid-Twentieth-Century Ireland.” 

Chair: Professor Christine Kinealy

6:45 p.m. — Depart by shuttle to Mikro Depot or the York Hill Campus

Thursday, June 13

8-9 a.m. — Breakfast and registration

Viewing of the Emmy-winning documentary, “Ireland’s Great Hunger and the Irish Diaspora,” directed by Rebecca Abbott of Quinnipiac University (optional)

9:30-11 a.m. — Early Famines

Chair: Dr. David Valone

Brendan Scott, Independent Scholar, “Famine and Poverty in Early Modern Ireland.”

Father Jordan Lenaghan, Executive Director of University Religious Life, Quinnipiac University, “‘View the Bones and Skulls of Your Dead Subjects’:  The English Government and the Weaponization of Famine in Elizabethan Ireland.”

Robert A. Young, Special Collections, Arnold Bernhard Library, Quinnipiac University, “The Irish Poverty Collection, 1683 - 1914: A Review of Publications in the Lender Family Special Collection at Quinnipiac University.”

11:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. — Panel A: Post-Famine Famines

Chair: Dr. Gerard Moran

Dr. Harvey Strum, The Sage Colleges, “American and Canadian aid to Ireland in 1862-63 and 1879-80.”

Dr. Catherine Shannon, Westfield State University, “Boston and the Threat of Famine and Eviction in Ireland, 1879-1881.”

Dr. Timothy Forest, University of Cincinnati, “Fresh Starts, Fenian Exiles, and Frozen Hells, The Irish, Colonization and the (Un)Making of the Canadian West.”

11:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. — Panel B: The Irish Imagination

Chair: Dr. Niamh Ann Kelly

Peter Murphy, Independent Scholar, “A Modest Proposal: Jonathan Swift and Hunger.”

Dr. Robert Smart, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Quinnipiac University, “The ‘Vital Blood’ of Irish Colonials in America and the Formation of the New Nation.”

Dr. Maureen Murphy, Hofstra University, “Heroic Women in the Drumlish Land War.”

12:45-1:30 p.m. — Lunch

1:45-3:15 p.m. — The Long 18th Century

Chair: Dr. Catherine Shannon

Dr. Karen Sonnelitter, Siena College, “‘Such frequent wants and famines’: Philanthropy and the Famine of 1741.”

Dr. Mary Burke, University of Connecticut, “A dangerous memory that had to be controlled or forgotten: Famine and the historiography of 18th-c. Ulster Presbyterian emigration.”

Professor Liam Kennedy, Queen’s University, Belfast, and Dr. Peter M. Solar, Université Saint-Louis—Bruxelles, “The Famine that Wasn’t? 1799-1801 in Ireland.”

3:30 p.m. — Travel by shuttle to the Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven

4 p.m. — Reception at Knights of Columbus Museum and a chance to view the exhibits

5-6 p.m. — Keynote Lecture at the Knights of Columbus Museum

Chair: Professor Mark McGowan

Professor Mary Corcoran, Maynooth University, “The Political Economy of the Urban Food Landscape.”

6 p.m. — Explore New Haven and go out to dinner

8:30 p.m. — Return by shuttle to York Hill Campus

Friday, June 14

8-9 a.m. — Breakfast and registration

9:15-10:15 a.m. — Keynote Lecture

Chair: Professor Mary Corcoran

Professor Christine Kinealy, Founding Director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, “Maude Gonne: the real Famine Queen.”

10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. — Panel A: The Fate of the Strokestown Emigrants

Chair: Caroilin Callery

Professor Mark McGowan, University of Toronto, “Masters of their own destiny?: Rethinking the Fate of the 1490 from the Mahon Estate, 1847-48.”

Dr. Jason King, Irish Heritage Trust, “‘The Black Hole of Calcutta was a Mercy Compared to the Holds of these Vessels’: Press Coverage of the Virginius, Naomi, and the fate of the Mahon Estate 1,490 Emigrants at Sea.”

Dr. Laura Smith, University of Toronto, "Travel Vouchers and Tracking Famine Migrants."

10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. — Panel B: Emigration

Chair: Dr. Gerard Moran

Dr. Hanna F. Khaswneh, Yarmouk University, “The Role of the Press in Supporting the Irish Famine Immigrants.”

Barry Feely, Independent Scholar, “We Are the Survivors. Boyle Workhouse and Emigration during the Famine.”

Professor Eileen Moore Quinn, College of Charleston, “‘We Were Always Hungry’: Irish Women’s Food Experiences and Strategies for Survival in Scotland's Tattie-Hoking Fields in the Twentieth Century.”

12-1:15 p.m. — Panel A: Teaching the Famine

Chair: Dr. Maureen Murphy

Dr. Alan Singer, Hofstra University, “Teaching the Great Irish Famine.”

Professor Greg Garvey, Director, Game Design & Development, Quinnipiac University, “‘The Bad Times/An Droch Shaol.’ Designing an interactive game on the Famine.”

Dr. Mike Murphy, Geography Department, University College Cork, “Cork University and the Irish Famine Online.”
During the conference, Dr. Murphy will be available for individual tutorials and a breakfast demonstration on Saturday. A sign-up sheet will be available.

12-1:15 p.m. — Panel B: How Emigrants Settled: The Example of the Strokestown Survivors

Chair: Dr. Jason King

Professor Mark McGowan and Bridget Hager, Emma McKean, Jaime McLaughlin, and Sofiya Romashchenko, undergraduates at St Michael’s College, Toronto, “Irish Famine Children in Montreal, the Churches, and Resettlement.”

1:30 p.m. — Travel by shuttle to Mount Carmel Campus

1:45-2:30 p.m. — Lunch at Quinnipiac University's Center for Religion

2:30-4:30 p.m. — Tour of Arnold Bernhard Library and the James Hack Tuke Exhibition: “Quaker Philanthropist and Friend to Ireland’s Poor”
There will also be an opportunity to visit the Teresa Deevy Exhibition, hosted by the Arnold Bernhard Library in partnership with Maynooth University, and be shown items from the Great Hunger Collection.

4:30 p.m. — Return to York Hill Campus

5-7 p.m. — Great Famine Voices Roadshow Open House event, Rocky Top Student Center, York Hill Campus.
This event is open to the general public and optional for conference attendees. Hosted by Dr. Jason King. Light refreshments will be provided.

7-8 p.m. — Irish Heritage Trust/Strokestown National Famine Museum Reception, University Club at the People's United Center, York Hill Campus
Entertainment by the world famous Edjukated Jazz Band. Sponsored by the Irish Heritage Trust/Strokestown National Famine Museum.

8-10 p.m. — Welcome by Christine Kinealy and Caroilin Callery. Closing remarks by Lynn Bushnell, Vice President for Public Affairs at Quinnipiac University. Conference Dinner.

Saturday, June 15

8-9 a.m. — Breakfast and registration

A demonstration of “Famine education and the ‘Great Irish Famine Online’” (optional)

9:15-10:15 a.m. — Keynote Lecture

Chair: Professor Christine Kinealy

Dr. Gerard Moran, NUI Galway, “A Philanthropist Responds to the Famine of 1879-82: James Hack Tuke.”

10:20-11 a.m. — The Tuke Emigrants

Dr. Margaret Lynch, Irish American Archives Society, “Leaving Mayo in 1883-1884.”

Jane Kennedy, Independent Scholar and Tuke Descendant, “The Connemaras: Despair in the Heartland.”

11 a.m. - 12 p.m. — Round table discussion on Tuke Emigrants

12-12:15 p.m. — Farewells and information about the 2020 Famine Summer School in Strokestown and the 2020 National Famine Way walks in Ireland and Hamden, Connecticut.

Visitor Information

Visitor Information

Getting to the York Hill Campus

The conference took place on the York Hill Campus from June 12-15, 2019:

305 Sherman Avenue
Hamden, Connecticut

  • York Hill Campus

    305 Sherman Avenue
    Hamden, CT 06518


Directions to York Hill Campus

From I-95 - Take to I-91N, then follow I-91 directions.

From I-91 - Take I-91 North or South to Exit 10. Take Route 40 to the end and turn R onto Whitney Avenue. Proceed .75 miles and turn L onto Sherman Avenue. The entrance to campus is approx. 0.25 miles on the right across from a hiking/bike trail and its parking lot.

From Route 15 - Take Route 15 North to exit 61 OR South to exit 62. Turn R onto Whitney Avenue (Route 10) and proceed north 2.7 miles and turn L onto Sherman Avenue. The entrance to campus is approx. 0.25 miles on the right across from a hiking/bike trail and its parking lot.


There are a number of restaurants in Hamden, New Haven and the surrounding area. Visit New Haven hosts a searchable restaurant directory where you can narrow down your search by town and type of cuisine.

Our Sponsors

Our Sponsors

Strokestown Park
Strokestown Park, Co. Roscommon is the home of the National Famine Museum and Archive. Using the documents and objects from Strokestown as a basis for the interpretation, the National Famine Museum tells the story of the Irish Great Hunger, eviction, migration, the assisted emigration scheme enacted by Major Denis Mahon of Strokestown Park and the story of his murder in November 1847.

The Strokestown Park Archive contains over 55,000 documents in relation to the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s and provides a complete record of economic, social and estate history over a 300-year period.  If you would like to visit the Strokestown Park Archive, please contact the Strokestown Park Archivist, Martin Fagan:

Strokestown Park also hosts the Irish Famine Summer School, National Famine Way, and Great Famine Voices Roadshow.

Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum
The mission of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University is to collect, preserve, exhibit and study its collection of art, artifacts and literature related to the Irish Famine/Great Hunger that occurred from 1845–52. In doing so, it seeks to educate audiences of all ages about the underlying political, social, economic and historic causes of the Great Hunger, and the magnitude of the disaster on Ireland and its people. The museum contains the world’s largest collection of Great Hunger-related art by noted contemporary Irish and Irish American artists as well as a number of period paintings by some of Ireland’s most important 19th-century artists.

The Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven
Established in 1982, the Knights of Columbus Museum, Inc. is a nonprofit institution serving the general public through exhibitions of history, art, and faith. It serves as an archive for the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council and maintains a permanent gallery showcasing the organization's history, as well as one dedicated to Knights of Columbus founder, Venerable Michael McGivney (1852-1890).

Center for Religion at Quinnipiac University
The Center for Religion strives to be a welcoming place for all students: believers and non-believers alike. Open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., it is a place for quiet study and conversation. Through its diverse programming, students can delve into the religious dimension of contemporary issues; raise their level of religious literacy; wrestle with issue of ethics and morality from a religious perspective; and build up the university community.

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About Us

About us

Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University fosters a deeper understanding of the Great Hunger of Ireland and its causes and consequences through a strategic program of lectures, conferences, course offerings and publications.