LETTER: STATE CONTROL WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE IRISH FAMINE, TOO

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The Independent Online
IN SUPPORT of Neal Ascherson's article on the Irish Famine, there is one Irish story that suggests all was not grim despair.

In the hardship years now being remembered, one major public work was expected to bring trade and profits through a modern waterway, linking the Loughs of Mask in the north (Mayo) with Corrib in the south (Galway) - an isthmus of six miles across.

Under their British masters the Irish farmers earned their corn by constructing a masterpiece in dressed stone, complete with bridges, quays and warehouses and lengthmen's cottages. On the day of the grand opening, all the respectable world was present. A sense of pride must have been their mood. Uninvited, but there to watch, the farmers in their dark clothes sat along the banks.

Perhaps they, too, had feelings of excitement, of hope that what was about to happen they had dared to predict, but nobody "who mattered" had listened. For, when the big lock gates were raised, the water filled the double channel for a few hundred yards, and then disappeared for ever through the bed of the canal. The Irish had known the limestone was porous, but the English engineers knew better.

From that day to this, all the evidence is there of the Canal Which Was Never Once Used.

David Gordon

Bristol

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