Visual Audio

A dark Irish landscape. Hills. Valleys. A church bell tolls. Various Irish names are called out. Robert Kee: A few of the names of Irish men, women, and children who died in the great famine in Ireland between 1845 and 1849. There were many hundreds of thousands of them altogether. The names of only very few are known. The vast majority of deaths, perhaps as many as a million, went unrecorded.

Mrs. Dunleavy: My mother used to tell us about the famine and all the people that died because there were no potatoes. Well, of course I don't think you'd die if there were no potatoes. I think the English were in

Sync: interview with Mrs. Dunleavy.

Hills. Sun turning dark. Clouds sweeping over the land.

Rain and lightning.

Freeman's journal.

Robert Kee to camera.

some collusion to get rid of the Irish from their lands, you see.

Kee: As with many great disasters in human affairs, there was no unmistakable signal that this one was at hand. It had been a fine hot summer, but there was a sudden break in the weather at the beginning of August 1845, with showers of sleet, lightning, and heavy rain. Reports from the counties spoke of potato crops of the most abundant yields. Then, on the eleventh of September 1845 . . .

Second narrator: We regret to state that we have had communications from more than one correspondent announcing what is called "cholera" in potatoes in Ireland, especially in the north.

Kee: Why was this such particularly disastrous news for Ireland? Well, because one-third of the entire population of Ireland depended wholly on the potato for survival. The Irish small farmer lived off his potato crop, so that even at the best of times life was a struggle. It had become increasingly a struggle in the past forty years because during that time the population of Ireland had doubled from four to eight million.

Kee's style is spare and straightforward. He has a strong, emotional story to tell and relates it in an unobtrusive way, letting the events and the facts speak for themselves.

Film Making

Film Making

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