Doolough Tragedy – Irish Famine Victims’ Walk of Death

Doolough Irish Famine Walk

The Doolough Tragedy is one of the most heart wrenching episodes in Irish history. Even by the standards of the Great Famine – the events at Doolough were particularly horrifying.

They resulted in the deaths of untold numbers of starving people who were treated with callous indifference by the very officials who were supposed to be helping them.

The tragedy happened in 1849 when Ireland’s poor were enduring their fourth year of hunger due to the loss of the potato crop and the failure of the government to provide adequate help.

Workhouses and government schemes were providing some relief, but it wasn’t nearly enough. To make things even more difficult for the starving, they had to submit themselves to inspection by government officials to prove that they really were destitute before they could qualify for the limited help available.

On March the 30th, 1849, two officials were due to assess the destitute people of Louisburgh in County Mayo. For reasons that that have never been fully uncovered, the meeting did not take place. Instead, the two officials made their way to spend the night at Delphi Lodge, 12 miles away.

The starving were told to report there for inspection at 7 o’clock the next morning or they would be struck off the list and get no support. That meant they were obliged to walk through the night through the bitter March weather to be there on time. It would be a challenging 12-mile walk for the healthy and fully fit, but for people already weakened and debilitated by years of starvation, it was virtually impossible.

Credit Ireland Calling