Victims of Ireland’s Great Famine: The Bioarchaeology of Mass Burials at Kilkenny Union Workhouse

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract / Description of output

The Great Famine (1845–1852) is a watershed in Irish history. With one million dead and just as many forced to flee hunger, starvation, and disease, Irelands “Great Hunger” is among the worst famines in human history. In 2006, a mass burial ground containing the skeletal remains of near 1,000 of its victims was found on the grounds of the former Kilkenny Union Workhouse. This book presents bioarchaeological analysis of these findings along with historical research on the burial ground and the people buried within it. These inmates of the Kilkenny Union Workhouse, the poor and the destitute who comprised the vast majority of the famine dead, appear in historical records as little more than mortality statistics. They were buried anonymously in pits at the back of the institution, and local awareness of this burial ground eventually faded. Through the analysis of bones and teeth, it has been possible to gain unique insight into the lives and experiences of famine victims who did not survive. This book is an attempt, through archaeology, to tell the story of the men, women, and children who lived in hardship, died under horrific circumstances, and whose fates had been forgotten until the archaeological discovery of their skeletal remains.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGainesville
PublisherUniversity Press of Florida
Number of pages312
ISBN (Print)9780813061177, 9780813064673
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • bioarchaeology
  • Great Irish Famine
  • disease
  • institution
  • Ireland
  • Kilkenny
  • mortality
  • nineteenth century
  • poverty
  • workhouse


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