independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Food exported from Drogheda during Famine

IF IT were possible to travel back in time and, in this instance, to the end of April, early May of 1847, this is the scene that would have met one`s eyes along the Port and streets of Drogheda.

During the first week in May of 1847 the Fair Trader ship left Drogheda Port for Liverpool carrying on board seven-hundred sheep, ninety cows, one-hundred and eighty pigs, and forty boxes of eggs.

The ship named St. Patrick also left the Port of Drogheda for Liverpool Port carrying one-hundred and forty-two cows, one-hundred and forty pigs, twenty horses, eight boxes of fowl, thirty-two boxes of eggs and ten boxes of butter.

The Brian Boiroimhe ship also headed for Liverpool from Drogheda carrying some one-hundred and eighty cows, one-hundred pigs, twelve horses and twenty boxes of eggs.

A large ship named the Prince Regent also arrived in Drogheda Port during this week from Belfast and loaded up some one-thousand and two-hundred and fifty hundredweight of the best quality flour from the mills of Messrs Smith and Smyth, whose premises were located along Merchants Quay, and travelled back to Belfast, while the Thomas Clifton ship also arrived in Drogheda Port and carried back to Lytham in Lancashire in England some twohundred quarters of the best quality wheat, two-hundred and twenty hundred-weight of oatmeal, onehundred quarters of oats and one bale of cloth.

Also during the first week in May of 'Black 47' a ship called the Piercy from Norfolk in Virginia in America landed at the Drogheda Port carrying over one-thousand, two-hundred and seventy-five quarters of the dreaded Indian Corn for the abovementioned Messrs Smith and Smyth of Merchants Quay who had it stored within their extensive grain-stores along the quayside.

All of this fertile produce, along with the best of meat, fowl, etc., the was being shipped out of the Drogheda Port from the equally fertile plains of counties Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Offaly, Kildare and Dublin while the destitute poor, the starving, the disease riddled people, of men, women and small children; of whole families perishing by the roadsides and along the town's streets looked on with a famishing lip and, in many, many instances, were treated with appalling silent contempt by the merchants, traders and shipping companies of Drogheda. The Union Workhouse, situated just of the Dublin Road, was bursting at the rafters with inmates and again, almost one quarter of the eight-hundred plus souls within, were children under fifteen years of age.

The Drogheda merchants also increased the deck-passenger fares to Liverpool from Drogheda during this time from two shillings to five shillings because their ships were being quarantined at the Liverpool Port and so the fares were risen due to delays; this led directly to hundreds and hundreds of people not being able to afford to leave Ireland with the result that the now destitute poor were lying dying on the streets of Drogheda.

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