On this day… 31 July 1848 in Kilrush, Ireland.

Clare Herald“On this day (31 July) in 1848, Captain Kennedy reports to the Commissioners that in the previous three weeks the eviction of 97 families, numbering 513 souls, has been carried out in the Kilrush Union.”


My Great Great Grandmother, Susan Kelleher, was about 11 years old on this day when 513 of her neighbours had been evicted from their homes. Her family had, until now, survived the horrors of what is called “the Irish Famine” … others describe it as a wilful act of genocide.

Famine via Clare Herald re. 31Jul1848

Whatever name you put upon it, Susan’s family had managed to survive but clearly daily life, and staying alive, was still a huge challenge. The family story is that they were “advised” that some of the family needed to emigrate. Was this by their Landlord?… their Priest?… is the story true? … This I don’t know.

What I do know is that my Susan arrived in South Australian on the 13 May 1855, some 5 or 6 years after that fateful day and never to return to her beloved land of birth… her family, her Ireland.

We, her descendants, will always remember.

Irish Flag raised in Kilrush for the "Famine" Commemoration 2013

Irish Flag raised in Kilrush for the “Famine” Commemoration 2013




Copyright © 2013. Catherine Crout-Habel

7 thoughts on “On this day… 31 July 1848 in Kilrush, Ireland.

  1. Thoughtful post to recall such an awful event. The ‘genocide’ theory is hotly contested among historians and academics – however, catastrophic times for sure. You may have seen this excellent item on clare library site describing conditions in Clare pre-Famine. http://www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/coclare/history/prefamine_clare.htm
    Great that you remember Susan’s life with such love and and affection – her memory is safe with you .
    Gura maith agat, Cait!

    • Angela, mo chara…
      Yes, the Clare Library is a fabulous resource, eh? … thanks indeed. No doubt there will continue to be debate over this issue, probably forever. I always feel Susan very close to me… sometimes more often than at others and this was one such occasion. Go raibh maith agat… your encouragement and friendship means more than I can say.
      p.s. Hope I’ve got my grammar correct 😉 … I do so love the language; the sound in my ear and the feel upon my tongue but am a very poor student… probably cos the only people I get to practice it with are my two Irish/ Gaeilge speaking “virtual” friends, you and Sean. Although I do flash out an occasional greeting/ comment at the Supermarket or share a word, or two, with the Grandchildren & Chad 😀

      • I can feel your closeness to this amazing woman – as I have said before, her memory is safe with you !
        As for Irish grammar – the people who spoke it just spoke it – they had no grammar, so it is irrelevant — its all about ordinary people saying ordinary things and the language has in my opinion been totally compromised and changed by the need to keep it modernized. So your grammar is perfect! In Donegal we say ‘gura maith agat’ instead of ‘go raibh maith agat’, there is different vocabulary, different pronunciation and different grammar rules, so yours is just perfect!.:)

    • Oh indeed, Pauleen…
      I remember the first time I visited the land of Susan’s birth and Sean told me how the family/ friends would hold a “wake” for each of the emigrants because… for them… they had died. 😦
      It especially saddens me that, from the family stories, Susan did not want to leave her beloved homeland, family and friends but she did “get on with it”. Despite many difficulties she certainly showed grit, and determination … always working with the Union Movement, and in other areas, to help improve life for the less fortunate. It seems my Nana (her granddaughter) inherited the same gene/ behaviour, which came to the fore in the “Great Depression” of the 1920’s/ 1930’s.
      Seems I may have a touch of the same cos sometimes, in frustration, my dear mum would say… “Catherine, you are JUST like you Grandmother!!!” and “… why do you make life so difficult for yourself?”. ha ha ha… Seems neither of us could ever keep our “gobs shut” 😉
      ps… lovely to hear from you again and have you “back on deck”.

    • Oh yes Sheryl… and not just evicted, in huge numbers, but also starving by the thousands…
      I often think about my Susan who was a child during these desperate times and that she must have witnessed unbelievable sights. From the family stories, it seems that her family would have been evicted too if not for the emigration of her, and her sister Bridget. I’m not sure if Bridget actually was her sister and may have been a cousin??? no matter… I’ve been trying to find her Irish Ancestors but the records were so bad, during the famine, that it’s been difficult. Need to be more focussed, I guess 😉
      It’s interesting that my mother (Susan’s great granddaughter) witnessed evictions when she was a child too, during the “Great Depression”. I’ve been doing some newspaper research and the similarities re: causes/ effects/ excuses/ explanations/ lack of effective government action, etc… are so very similar. Almost like history repeating itself within the same family, over generations…
      Thanks for following my blog Sheryl… and for your thoughtful comments. Cheers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s