About the time of the 150th anniversary of the onset of the Famine I spent about 6 or 7 hours in the newspaper archive of the Central Library in Belfast digging into contemporary accounts of the famine. Although there had been a Nationalist paper called the Vindicator, only copies of the Newsletter were to be found in the library’s collection. I kept mostly to reading the spirited editorials, and what emerged was a spirited battle going on between the Belfast paper and the Times of London, in which the former consistently fought the corner for the dignity and humanity of “its fellow countrymen in the South and West”. Only when the short lived rebellion of the Young Irishmen in 1848 did its defence weaken. Peter Duffy in the Wall Street Journal notes that the Famine called out similar compassionate responses in contemporary New York.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty