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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Jim's book back in print after 14 years

Esther Hayden

Published 26/03/2014 | 05:44

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Historian Jim has seen his book Surplus People from Wicklow to Canada reprinted.

ARKLOW man Jim Rees has seen his book 'Surplus People from Wicklow to Canada' reprinted, 14 years after its first printing run.

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Arklow man Jim Rees has seen his book 'Surplus People from Wicklow to Canada' reprinted, 14 years after its first printing run.

The book will also see another print run for the American market in September.

It focuses on the 'assisted passage' of Wicklow tenants on emigrant ships during the Great Famine.

County Wicklow seldom appears in books dealing with the Famine yet it has been estimated that its population decreased by 21.5 per cent between 1841and 1851 – representing over 27,000 people. Around 6,000 were removed from the 85,000-acre Coolattin Estate alone.

These clearances of uneconomic tenants were the most organised in Ireland. Between 1847 and 1856 Lord Fitzwilliam financed the 'assisted passage' of these men, women and children from New Ross in County Wexford to Canada on emigrant ships such as the Dunbrody.

In this book, Rees captures the horrific conditions on boards such vessels.

Many tenants were destitute and more than a few were ill on arrival in Quebec and New Brunswick.

Hunger and overcrowding at quarantine stations, such as the infamous Grosse Île, resulted in further disease and death.

The first ship arrived at Grosse Île on May 14, 1847, and on May 26, 30 vessels were at anchor in the river with 10,000 passengers awaiting inspection.

On June 3, the healthy were moved to the east of the island with an armed guard of fifty soldiers dividing the sick from the healthy.

By June 9, 36 more vessels had arrived from other parts of Ireland, Britain and Germany, with 13,000 passengers on board. The death rate rose to 50 a day.

'Surplus People – From Wicklow to Canada' by Jim Rees is published by The Collins Press, price €12.99. It is available from all good bookshops and online from www.collinspress.ie or contact Jim direct at jrees@eircom.net

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