Kenmare: History and survival—Fr John O’Sullivan and the Famine Poor

Sep 03, 2021, 04:00 AM

Listen to author Colum Kenny in conversation with History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, as he discusses the story of a remarkable man’s efforts to help starving people during the Irish Great Famine. He reveals their terrible experiences inside and outside one of the national ‘workhouses’ and throws new light on the relationship between class, religion and poverty in Ireland before independence. 

John O’Sullivan (1807-1874) was an independent-minded priest who clashed with bishops and landlords. He kept journals that have not been published. The author mines these and other sources, including eyewitness accounts, UK archives and Kerry’s workhouse minutes, for new insights into aspects of Irish society, including politics, proselytism and the status of women.

Dr Colum Kenny BL is Professor Emeritus, Dublin City University, a journalist and an honorary bencher of King’s Inns. Awarded the Irish Legal History Society’s Gold Medal, his books include histories of King’s Inns, an account of Irish emigration to the USA and, most recently, a biography of Arthur Griffith.

Kenmare: History and survival—Fr John O’Sullivan and the Famine Poor Is available from all good bookshops and online from

The Hedge School series of podcasts is produced by History Ireland and the Wordwell Group.

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