Monthly Archives: December 2010

Mary’s Consent to the Incarnation

In response to a reader’s question regarding some Marian aspects that wind their way through a forthcoming novel, I post the following. According to the Gospel of Luke, Mary was not impregnated until she consented to be the handmaid of … Continue reading

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The Nutritional Value of the Potato: the pre-Famine Irish Diet

Potatoes are nutritionally complete foods.  A medium-sized potato supplies 7.5 grams of protein* and 8 grams of fiber.  In addition, potatoes contain Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, 28 grams of Vitamin C and significant levels of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, … Continue reading

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The British Queen that Fateful Christmas of 1851

As Christmas draws near, I’m reminded of the last voyage of the British Queen, a 66 year old steam packet (and former slave ship) pressed into service to carry Irish emigrants to America.*  In December of 1851, its 228 passengers must … Continue reading

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The Castlebar Coffin Fund

Even Famine victims who worked 10 hours per day on British funded outdoor relief projects (breaking stones, for instance) were not provided with coffins when they died.   As a result, bodies were left to rot on the road where they might … Continue reading

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Why No Famine-era Railroads?

Despite Parliamentary findings 10 years earlier recommending construction of a railroad system, by 1846, the second year of the Famine, Ireland had only 123 miles of railroad.  Why?   There was ample land, a great need, Parliamentary support (in the form … Continue reading

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Hedge School vs. National School Emigrants

The 1830’s saw the establishment of national, non-denominational schools in Ireland.  Prior to that, Irish Catholics wishing to be educated had the option of converting to Protestantism or studying in clandestine ‘hedge’ schools.  Such schools were established in the barns and small, … Continue reading

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The Vatican’s Meager Response to the Famine

Pope Pius IX In 1846, the second year of the Famine, Pius IX was elected Pope.  He assumed control of the Papal States at a time of great political and social upheaval in Italy.  Initially hailed as a progressive reformer, once he’d personally … Continue reading

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