The reality of Lurgan life during the great famine

Brian Cassells.
Brian Cassells.

An audience of over 100 gathered in St Peter’s Parish Hall last Wednesday for a presentation entitled ‘Lurgan in Famine Times’ given by Brian Cassells, a former principal of King’s Park School.

In a sensitive account, Mr Cassells described to members of the community outreach group the appalling realities of starvation and disease which were to claim the lives of so many inhabitants of the town of Lurgan and the local rural areas surrounding.

The famine in this area reached its height in the year of 1847 and such was the scale of its effect that the number of inmates in the Lurgan Workhouse was the second highest in all of Ireland. The account of the horrendous conditions and the vast numbers of those who died in the Workhouse simply beggars belief. Attempts to alleviate the suffering of the population were made by the authorities and by Christian individuals and groups but were virtually inadequate as the famine raged.

In its aftermath, the famine brought about mass emigration, the effects of which were to change the face of this country for ever.

The Community Outreach Group is deeply indebted to Brian Cassells. By informing the group about the area’s past, however painful or difficult, they may again be inspired to take seriously the commandment of loving our neighbour as ourselves.

The outreach programme continued with a two-day residential visit to Dublin.