Bridget O'Donnell and her children in Clare, 1849.

[The Illustrated London News reported regularly on the Great Famine. Their reports were generally sympathetic and accompanied with excellent illustrations. They are now accessible on the Internet.]

Her story is briefly this: 'I lived,' she said, 'on the lands of Gurranenatuoha. My husband held four acres and a half of land, and three acres of bog land; our yearly rent was £7. 4s 0d; we were put out last November; he owed some rent. We got thirty stone of oats from Mr. Marcus Keane, for seed. My husband gave some writing for it; he was paid for it. He paid ten shillings for reaping the corn. As soon as it was stacked, one 'Blake' on the farm, who was put to watch it, took it away in his own haggard and kept it there for a fortnight by Dan Sheedey's orders. They then thrashed it in Frank Leille's barn.

I was at this time lying in fever. Dan Sheedey and five or six men came to tumble my house; they wanted me to give possession. I said that I would not; I had fever, and was within two months of my down-lying (confinement); they commenced knocking down the house, and had half of it knocked down when two neighbours, women, Nell Spellesley and Kate How, carried me out. I had the priest and the doctor attend me shortly after. Father Meehan anointed me. I was carried into a cabin and lay there for eight days, when I had the creature (the child) born dead. I lay for three weeks after that.

The whole of my family got the fever, and one boy thirteen years old died with wants and with hunger while we were lying sick. Dan Sheedey and Blake took the corn into Kilrush and sold it. I don't know what they got for it. I had not a bit for my children to eat when they took it from me.'

Illustrated London News, 22 Dec. 1849.


  1. What kind of source is this?
  2. Discuss some problems that might arise with sources like this.
  3. Outline aspects of Bridget O'Donnell's story that you think might confuse some readers.
  4. List the misfortunes that afflicted Bridget O'Donnell in 1849.
  5. Name the people who were opposed to her and those who were in support.
  6. Discuss the document in the context of ireland in 1849.


  1. Research the subject of evictions during the Famine.
  2. Role play a conversation between the editor of the Illustrated London News who published the above extract and the editor of The Liverpool Mail who published the preceding extract.
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