3.5 Stars The Irish Famine drove huge numbers of people to leave Ireland and sail for new lands. In 1847 200,000 people sailed for Boston alone. Of this number around 2000 never made it to their destination, killed by disease and hunger during their voyage, their remains consigned to the sea.
The sinking of the Brig St. John of the coast of Massachusetts in October 1849 was one of the many tragic events to occur during the mass exodus
The Wreck of the Brig St John, written by archaeologist and historian, William Henry with harrowing and vivid illustrations by James O’Mahoney’s of the Great Famine which were taken from a series of drawings commissioned by the Illustrated London News in 1847, many of which are reproduced in this book.
I found this a really interesting and well researched account and while I had heard about this many times in Irish history classes at school I had never come across a book written about the subject. The author describes with great clarity the appalling poverty, disease and starvation the people of Ireland endured at the time of the famine and also the details of the harsh evictions of the landlords brings an understanding to the reader why this mass exodus takes please. We learn the names and fates of some of the passengers on board and this makes the read all the more interesting. The ill-fated vessel carried 143 souls and the conditions and hardships they endured are well documented in this account.
A short and interesting read and a book that many may appreciate who have ancestors from Ireland that may have taken this arduous journey on coffin ships to find a better life for themselves and their decedents.