We're ready to learn more about the ship!

During the Famine period, an estimated half-million Irish were evicted from their cottages, and there were two ways that they were removed. The first one was by putting the male of the family in jail for owing back rent, and then the rest of his family would be put out into the streets. The other way was that the landlord would pay to put the pauper families on a ship bound for British North America.

The poor families were put on there poorly built ships which became known as coffin ships. The sea journey could take anywhere from 40 days to three months, and many people became seriously ill or died on the ships which is why they were called coffin ships. Of the 100,000 Irish that sailed to British North America in 1847, an estimated one out of five died from disease and malnutrition.  Anyone that died during the sea voyage was simply dumped overboard, without any religious rites.

Because British shipping laws didn’t hold ships to very high standards, people were crammed into the ships, at up to double their capacity at times. Very little food was given to the passengers on the ships, and what was given, was often not cooked correctly, which led to stomach issues for the passengers.

According to The History Place: Below decks, hundreds of men, women and children huddled together in the dark on bare wooden floors with no ventilation, breathing a stench of vomit and the effects of diarrhea amid no sanitary facilities. On ships that actually had sleeping berths, there were no mattresses and the berths were never cleaned. Many sick persons remained in bare wooden bunks lying in their own filth for the entire voyage, too ill to get up.

Another big problem was the lack of good drinking water. Sometimes the water was stored in leaky old wooden casks, or in casks that previously stored wine, vinegar or chemicals which contaminated the water and caused dysentery. Many ships ran out of water long before reaching North America, making life especially miserable for fevered passengers suffering from burning thirsts. Some unscrupulous captains profited by selling large amounts of alcohol to the passengers, resulting in “totally depraved and corrupted” behavior among them.

The Dunbrody

Debbie and Polly #2 went aboard the Dunbrody to learn about the Famine and famine ships. It was a very interesting exhibit because first you view a 9 minute audio-visual presentation which gives the historic background to the Great Famine, and the reason why so many people were forced to emigrate on sailing ships like Dunbrody to America in the mid 19th century. After that, you are issued a ticket, just as if you ere actually going to be sailing on the ship. the ticket tells you about the space you are allotted and the food rations. There are actors throughout the ship tht play the roles of immigrants, and you are given the opportunity to explore the ship on your own.

Up on deck

Polly learned a lot!

Many people would have been crammed into these bunks

This doesn't look very appetizing to me!

How would you like to cook in this kitchen?

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One Response to “Polly #2 Learned About the Great Famine and Famine Ships Aboard the Dunbrody”

  1. I just can say that this is brand new for me, so thanks…