Trip 3: Historical Famine Sites

Part of Ireland’s darker past. Nearly 2 million men, women and children died of disease and starvation in a land where there was no shortage of food. Many emigrated on what were known as coffin ships to America and other more far flung parts of the Earth.

A grim study of more than 500 Irish child skeletons from a mass workhouse grave has uncovered the harrowing deaths suffered by the Famine’s youngest victims.

Medical secrets from children buried between 1847 and 1851 in the grounds of Kilkenny Union Workhouse are laid bare in a study on skeletal manifestation of stress.

Almost two thirds of the 545 youngsters buried in the mass grave were under six while workhouse records show the mortality rate for babies under the age of two was four times higher than older children.

The study revealed retarded growth, signs of rampant scurvy and infectious diseases.

Bioarchaeologist Dr Jonny Geber, from University College Cork, looked at the suffering of children who lost their parents in the Famine or who were taken from their mothers in the workhouses.