The People of Kilrush Poor Law Union during the Great Famine

4 Mar 2013

by Paddy Waldron

WWW version:

Kilrush & District Historical Society and the local committee organising the 2013 National Famine Commemoration are anxious to link those whose names feature in the history of the Great Famine in Kilrush Poor Law Union (PLU) with their next-of-kin living today. We welcome the help of genealogy students who wish as part of their project work to study source material dealing with life in Kilrush PLU during, immediately before, and immediately after the Great Famine and the individuals and families named in this source material. Suitable project material will be submitted to Clare County Library for possible publication at

The objective of these projects is to link, where possible:

The people involved played many roles in the story of the Great Famine, as

Kilrush Poor Law Union

During the Great Famine:

The sources which might be consulted for these projects include, but are not limited to:

Possible projects could be at:

PLU level, e.g.,
Confirm the boundaries of the original Kilrush PLU by finding maps, lists of townlands, or other contemporary evidence.
Identify the townlands and parishes listed in Captain Kennedy's reports (often mis-spelled) and those not listed and compile a spreadsheet linking them to their official spellings and other sources.
Compile a spreadsheet linking the number of evictions documented for each townland with its population figures for 1841 and 1851.
Find and document all the small settlements of sub-townland level like Moveen, Tullig, Newtown, Oldtown, etc., shown on the OSi maps. Which were completely abandoned by Griffith's Valuation? Did the populations of the corresponding townlands fall by a higher percentage than those with no such settlements?
Identify the precise points from which the sketches in The Illustrated London News were drawn.
Investigate the extent to which electoral divisions (pre-1850) coincided with civil parishes in other unions and in other counties
Parish or electoral division level, e.g.,
Compile a list of all the Famine-era landlords in the parish, using Griffith's Valuation, Captain Kennedy's reports, Encumbered Estates Courts records, and other sources. Which were residents and which were absentees? Which were elected or ex-officio guardians? Which appear as evictors in Captain Kennedy's reports? Which do not? Which employed middlemen or agents? Which owned parts of townlands, whole townlands or multiple townlands?
Townland level, e.g.,
Can the tenants/occupiers in the TABs, the evictees in Captain Kennedy's reports and the tenants/occupiers in Griffith's Valuation be matched up? Where did those who were evicted end up?
Surname level, e.g.,
Carry out a one-name study of a (preferably less common) west Clare surname to determine the extent to which it was influenced by the famine
Family or individual level, e.g.,
Compile biographies and family histories of the Poor Law Guardians and landlords, who will generally have left far better records behind than did their tenants.
Can those involved in assisted emigration schemes be linked back to their origins in Kilrush PLU or forward to their descendants living overseas today?
Can the Kilrush Orphans sent to Melbourne be identified in any Clare records?
Can those who died in the workhouse be linked to their native parishes or townlands?
Find contradictions - are there many families containing evicting landlords and middlemen which also contained relief workers? E.g. Fr. Tim Kelly and his brother Matthew; or George Blackall and his father Henry Blackall and uncle John M'Mahon Blackall.
Statistical level, e.g.,
How was the class of people who left tombstones influenced by the Famine? Are there more tombstones with dates of death during the Famine years than for the years immediately before or immediately after the Famine in online transcriptions (or offline transcriptions, or on tombstones that have not been transcribed)?
Personal level, e.g.,
Where were your own ancestors during the Famine?