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Sable Wings Over the Land
Ciarán Ó Murchadha

The Irish Times, September 1998

In Ciarán Ó Murchadha's authoritative study, Sable Wings Over The Land - Ennis, County Clare and its Wider Community during the Great Famine (CLASP Press, Price: €20.00), the Clare Journal's selective reports are balanced by the efforts of the three Limerick-based newspapers that circulated in Co Clare, the Limerick Chronicle, the Limerick and Clare Examiner and the Limerick Reporter. In a foreword, Professor James S. Donnelly, Jr., of the University of Wisconsin, draws attention to Ó Murchadha's extensive use of these invaluable sources: "Among all the recent historians of the Great Famine, no one else has made more effective use of local newspapers than Ó Murchadha, or has shown more tellingly how much they can contribute to our understanding of this social disaster."

This is a book which espousers of the doctrine of "shared experience", should read and re-read, particularly passages descriptive of the appalling conditions of the time, such as this: "The women and little children, crowds of whom were to be seen scattered over the turnip fields, like a flock of famishing crows, devouring the raw turnips, mothers half naked, shivering in the snow and sleet... whilst their children were screaming with hunger..." This is a comprehensive and scholarly study of a small community battling with catastrophe.

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Other Reviews

Books Ireland,
September 1998

Clare Champion,
July 1998