• My friend, Caitriona, tells me that the Heritage Festival honoring the history of Sean Ross in Roscrea, Tipperary, was a success! The Midland Tribune published three photographs with an article in their section, Roscrea News (though the article appears not to be linked online). It explained, “The cradle of Christianity was honored at Sean Ross, now known as St. Annes, with a prayer service at the medieval abbey and a comprehensive presentation by George Cunningham on the heritage of Sean Ross demesne…During the presentation Caitriona Meagher showed the new O’Meachair crown, symbol of the chieftainship of the clan…young Gavin Meagher from Clonan was persuaded to show off the crown. Immediately afterwards Demesne Manager Barry Noyce and conservation architect Ivor McElveen explained the conservation process on the medieval ruins.”

Perhaps I’ll be able to add a photo from the event at a later date. A painting of Sean Ross Abbey by artist Caoimhe Arrigan may be found here.

• Bill Duffney has received great pre-talk coverage in Waterbury’s Republican-American. He was quoted as saying, “The real evil with which we have to contend…is not the physical evil of the famine but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people [who were responsible for it].” The starvation, he said, was “an effective mechanism for reducing surplus population.”

Many prefer to think of Ireland’s 1845-1852 years as the “Great Hunger” rather than the more commonly used, “Famine.” Duffney explained, “The word famine is a misnomer because it wasn’t really a famine; it was actually politically imposed starvation, caused by the tenacious adherence to the economic theory of laissez-faire…It’s borderline genocide.”

Describing Bill’s lecture at 4 p.m. this Thursday at Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Connecticut, the article noted efforts of the prosperous merchant and shipbuilding Quakers in Ireland to spearhead the setting up of soup kitchens and donating fishing nets to help fishermen resume their work. “Quaker William Bennett moved to create more diverse farming methods [apart from potato crops, which were affiliated with disease], purchasing vegetable seeds that he distributed in Counties Mayo and Donegal. Later, Quakers helped to distribute a much larger government donation of seeds to 40 thousand small holders and helped to plant 9.6 thousand acres.”

Duffney’s lecture will feature information from letters he has collected for the past ten years. “Among the letters he found was a donation from Waterbury, [Connecticut] which arrived in New York’s Quaker Relief Committee on March 4, 1847. The relief committee in Waterbury donated $460 on May 4, 1847, at a time when the average annual income was $600 to $800, Duffney said. Northfield, population 250, sent in $249 in 1847.”

(See Quakers in the World.)
©2016 Janet Maher / Sinéad Ni Mheachair