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Portent of the Great Famine in December, 1844

In December, 1844, the Limerick Chronicle† contained a portent of the Great Famine of 1845–1852. In that edition was issued one of the earliest warnings of that looming and terrible visitation of the potato blight, famine, and disease in Ireland. A serious rot had been detected in the potato pits in several districts. At this date, the cause was attributed to a prolonged rainy reason. Hope was held out, however, that the damage [was] not so extensive as many apprehend. († reprinted in the 10th December 1844 edition of the Armagh Guardian.)

Potato cultivation, in the Illustrated London News, 1849.

Also published in this number of John Thompson’s journal was the happier report of the Harvest celebration hosted by James Johnston, Esq. of Kinlough House in county Donegal. A pretty picture is painted, indeed, by the landlord having entertained his numerous labourers and many of his tenantry to a plentiful supply of roast beef, plum pudding, &c. The merriment concluded with an evening spent in the utmost harmony, the guests well pleased with the hospitality of their indulgent landlord.

Thus, not only were several years’ privation presaged by these reports, but also the contrast between these two articles bore witness to the division between those who had access to the necessaries of life and creature comforts, and the millions who would not.

Source citation for this page: — Kilpatrick, Alison. “December, 1844 — Portent of the Great Famine.” Blog article published to Arborealis,; accessed [insert date of access].