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Irish Famine of 1740-41

Though most people know only of the Great Famine of 1847-49, Ireland in fact experienced a famine of similar magnitude almost 110 years earlier, also called its day the 'Great Famine', or the Irish Famine of 1740-41. While calculating the death rate in the later famine has proved difficult, not withstanding the existence of census returns for 1841 and 1851, in the absence of census taking in the eighteenth century, and also in the absence of Catholic Church records due to the Penal Laws, no information is available as to the scale of the deaths for that period. However Professor Joe Lee has speculated from contemporary accounts, and information on other famines internationally of the period, that the death rate in 1740-41 was similar to that of the famine a century later, namely that ten per cent of the population died.

Additional Reading

Professor Joe Lee, The Modernisation of Irish Society (ISBN 0717105679)



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