Irish Emigrants Leaving Home. — The Priest's Blessing. [Click on the image for more information.]

The Census returns, when published, will enable us to ascertain, in some degrees, the extent of the combined ravages of famine and pestilence, in the first place, and of despair and emigration, in the second, in the depopulation of Ireland. But even these returns, authentic as they will be, cannot be complete; for the emigration that has gone on since the census was taken, and which still continues, will compell the statist to make large deductions from the amount which the census will yield, if he wish to ascertain the real number of the Irish people. The annals of the modern world offer no such record as that presented in the history of Ireland, since the memorable and deplorable years of the potato famine, and of the pestilence that followed in its track. The splendid emigrant ships that ply between Liverpool and New York, and which have sufficed in previous years to carry to the shores America an Irish emigration, amounting on the average to 250,000 souls per annum, have, during the present spring, been found insufficient to transport to the States the increasing swarms of Irish who have resolved to try in the New World to gain the independence which has been denied them in the old.

"Emigration," says a letter dated a few days back, "is proceeding to an rextent altogether unprecendented; but much less, in proportion, from Ulster than the other provinces. From most of the southern counties, the small farmers are hastening in vast numbers; and even in Leinster the mania for emigration prevails far and wide. The remittances from America are far greater in amount than in any previous year, and considerable sums are paid by the banks and by private commercial establishments, from day to day, on order from the United States. From some districts in Ulster, numbrs of the smaller tenantry are taking their departure. From one of the principal estates in Monaghan nearly one thousand persons of the cotter class are about to be sent to Canada at the expense of the landlord, who, it is stated, has made arrangements for providing them with a comfortable passage, and some small allowance of money to each family after reaching the port of their destination."

The number of emigrant vessels proceeding to America direct from Irish ports is quite unprecedented, and is one of the most extraordinary circumstances of the time. Within eight days, the following eleven vessels, carrying 1568 passengers, sailed from the single port of Cork:--The Dominique, for Quebec, 150 passengers; the Don, for New York, 160; the Lockwoods, for new York, 280; the Marchioness of Bute, for Quebec, 120; the Sara, for Boston, 104; the Solway, for New York, 196; the Try Again, for Quebec, 130; the Favourite, for Boston, 120; the Clarinda, for New York, 100; the Swift, for Boston, 120; the Field Marshal Radetzsky, for New York, 88 passengers. In addition to those vessels, the Hottspur went down the Cork river, on Tuesday, with 100 paupers on board, from the Kenmare Union-house.

[The anonymous reporter expresses incredulity that, despite the ever-increasing numbers of small farmer leaving the island, landowners and mortgagees continue to eject tenants for debt, citing the Galway Vindicator's estimate of above 4,000 farmers evicted in the district of Connemara alone just that spring. The situation in Limerick, Kerry, and Cork is just as bad.]

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"The Depopulation of Ireland," The Illustrated London News (10 May 1851): 386.

Created 3 September 2006
Last modified 24 January 2022