Book List: Paddy's Lament

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

All right history buffs (or those of us who want to be), this week’s book list is for you!

Paddy’s Lament is an exploration of the events of two fateful years that author, Thomas Gallagher (1918-1992), puts forward as the basis for understanding the hatred and violence between the Irish and British that STILL dominates the headlines today. 

In 1846, the potatoes in Ireland (the main, and for some the only, food source), were struck with an unknown disease that turned them into an inedible slime. Facing starvation, the Irish population appealed to the British government and absentee landlords (who were growing various crops and raising livestock on Irish land to be shipped to England) for help but were met with indifference and eviction. 

In two years, two million Irish (over a quarter of the population) died while the British ate, farmed, and looked on.

Gallagher did extensive research for this work (evidenced in his bibliography) and includes incredibly graphic descriptions, heart-wrenching emotion and actual documented evidence that some British officials cared more about the livelihood of their animals than they did about Irish human beings.