The Irish famine is one of the best-documented episodes in Irish history, and much can be reconstructed with a fair degree of accuracy through careful research. It is precisely the repetition of eye-catching but unsubstantiated claims that has allowed much of English opinion to dismiss the horror of the famine as so much Irish exaggeration with the consequences that Campbell so rightly deprecates.
It is both wrong and distracting to describe the famine as an episode of English 'ethnic cleansing'. The dominant strand in British policy could more accurately be summarised as the forced Anglicisation of Irish society at whatever human cost, a policy that has closer parallels to the strategies of the World Bank and IMF in developing countries today than it has to events in former Yugoslavia, and hence more relevant to the internationalist concerns of the organisers of the annual Doolough commemoration and the famine museum at Strokestown.
6 SeptemberReuse content