An old illustration of lady Ireland fighting with a Famine phantom

Famines in Ireland Before 1845 and After 1852

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Save the date: 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” will explore the impact of these intermittent crises on the people of Ireland. Scholars, students and researchers of all disciplines are welcome to submit a proposal.

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Keynote Speakers

Keynote speakers

The following speakers will present 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).  

Ciarán Reilly is one of Ireland‘s leading researchers in the area of the Great Irish Famine, Ireland‘s historic houses and estates, and the Irish diaspora — in particular, the relatively small number who made their homes in what is now South Africa. In 2014, Reilly published two monographs, “The Irish Land Agent, 1830-1860: The Case of King’s County,” and “Strokestown and the Great Irish Famine.” He is also an editor and contributor to “Women and the Great Hunger” (Quinnipiac and Cork University Press, 2016). Reilly was the curator of “1916 and the Irish Country House,” at Maynooth University. 

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).

Schedule of Events

Event schedule

The following is a rough schedule of events for the conference. A detailed, final schedule will be posted in the coming months.

Wednesday, June 12

  • Check-in
  • Tour of Ireland's Great Hunger Museum
  • Informal reception

Thursday, June 13

  • Breakfast and check-in
  • Keynote lecture
  • Morning breakout sessions
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon breakout sessions
  • Keynote lecture at the Knights of Columbus, New Haven
  • Reception
  • Visit New Haven

Friday, June 14

  • Breakfast
  • Breakout sessions
  • Visit James Hack Tuke exhibition
  • Keynote lecture
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon breakout sessions
  • Keynote lecture
  • Reception and dinner

Saturday, June 15

  • Breakfast and checkout


Special travel offer

For our conference guests traveling from Ireland, we are currently offering a special opportunity in partnership with the National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park.

All entrance fees and travel to conference venues are included in the fee:

  • All excursions
  • Opening reception
  • Accommodation for 4 nights
  • Local travel
  • Conference meal with drinks and music
  • All on-campus meals

Cost: €338 ($395)

Student rate: $250

*Please note — each individual is responsible for arranging their own flights and registering online for the conference. The full program and conference registration will be available in the spring.

Interested in attending? Please email Caroilin Callery, Director of the Irish Heritage Trust, at

Group flight information

The group will meet at an appointed time and place in Dublin Airport.

Outbound flight: Tuesday 11 June - Dublin to Hartford, Aer Lingus

Homebound flight: Saturday 15 June - Hartford to Dublin, Aer Lingus

Quinnipiac will arrange a mini bus transfer to Quinnipiac University in Hamden, to your accommodation, which is included in the registration fee.

Please note, accommodation is high-quality student housing on Quinnipiac’s York Hill Campus where the conference attendees will all stay together with beautiful views of New Haven and Long Island Sound. If your preference is hotel accommodation, please contact us for options.

For those preferring different travel arrangements, i.e. to extend their stay at either end of the trip, please see the below document for full travel information.

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.