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QUB lecturer maps effect of famine on our county


A new interactive website has illustrated the effect the Great Famine had on Kerry's population, with the county losing almost 85,000 people between 1841 and 1851.

Queen's University Belfast [QUB] Lecturer Alan Fernihough is the principal investigator in "The Causes and Consequences of the Great Irish Famine" project and is assisted in his research by Áine Doran.

In recent weeks, the project developed an interactive map at which highlights the difference in population in civil parishes from 1841 to 1851. The figures are especially stark in west-coast counties, and the famine's effect throughout Kerry was devastating, particularly in the civil parishes surrounding Dingle.

The resource has divided Kerry into 84 civil parishes. In terms of percentages, the worst losses in population were experienced in Killahan (52 per cent); Minn Áird (52 per cent); Dún Úrlann (50 per cent); Currans (49 per cent); Dún Chaoin (48 per cent); and Gairfeanaigh (48 per cent) - meaning four of the six worst-affected civil parishes were in west Kerry.

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In terms of numbers, Tuosist was worst affected, with a population drop of almost 3,500 people.

A genealogist from Kerry, Kay Caball, has in recent days extracted this data and presented it in the form of a list, and she made particular note of the suffering endured in fourth-class houses.

"Some of the figures make for shocking reading," she said.

"Tralee has a 21 per cent drop but this actually represents a drop of 2,594 people. You must also remember the number of country people who came into the town during the five years of the Famine and the number of newborns in Tralee in the ten-year period, indicating a much higher emigration and death toll.

"Overall, it would appear that the Dingle Peninsula suffered most. Of course the big question is 'How many emigrated or how many died?'".

The interactive map made by Alan Fernihough is available at The list version of the data his project collected has been made available by Kay Caball at