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The Irish Famine

Today we're bringing you a poem about The Irish Famine, chosen by Tom Ryan. He describes how haunting it is, and we must agree - this is truly heartbreaking!

I do remember my mother telling stories related to her by grandparents, of the eerie stillness that descended over the land in the aftermath of the famine - when most of the people had either died or emigrated. As Yeats wrote about another time: "all changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty is born".

There is a haunting video clip of a poem "The Irish Famine Poem" uploaded by Dominic Kennedy. It features a man reciting the poem in a famine graveyard on Achill Island and is a poignant reminder of the appalling circumstances in which our forebears perished.

Give Me Three Grains of Corn, Mother

Amanda M. Edmond (1824–1862)

The Irish Famine

Give me three grains of corn, mother,—  

Only three grains of corn;

It will keep the little life I have  

Till the coming of the morn.

I am dying of hunger and cold, mother,—          

Dying of hunger and cold;

And half the agony of such a death  

My lips have never told.

It has gnawed like a wolf, at my heart, mother,—  

A wolf that is fierce for blood;        

All the livelong day, and the night beside,  

Gnawing for lack of food.