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The Country House & the Great Famine

October 15, 2023 @ 4.00pm - 5.00pm

An illustrated talk by Dr Ciarán Reilly.

 In September 1851, towards the end of the Great Famine, the Waterford News and Star newspaper reported on the ‘public rejoicings’ in Tramore, County Waterford, that welcomed the arrival of the Honourable Mr. St. Leger and his wife, Lord and Lady Doneraile. According to the report, thousands gathered to welcome them and:


the good people of Tramore were engaged in the laudable undertaking of collecting

evergreens, trees of various kinds – by which the streets were afterwards studded – flags, banners, mottoes, rose, pieces of artillery, tar barrels, and all manner of ignitable matter in order to pay respect to, and honour, their good, kind and indulgent landlord and his beautiful lady.


The ‘public rejoicings’ for the St. Leger’s of Doneraile, County Cork, was just one such gathering which marked the end of the Famine and these were mirrored elsewhere across the country as tenants clamoured to show deference to their local landlord.  

How were country houses such as Doneraile impacted by the Famine? Using a number of case studies, this talk examines how the country house and its owners functioned in a time of famine. While some were remembered for their benevolence during the Famine, others were castigated for their in-action, which ultimately fed into the stereotypical depiction of the country house towards the end of the nineteenth century and later.  

Dr Ciarán Reilly is a historian of 19th & 20th century Irish History at the Department of History, Maynooth University, and Assistant Director of the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses & Estates. He is the author of a number of books on the Great Irish Famine, including The Irish Land Agent, 1830-1860; Strokestown and the Great Famine, and John Plunket Joly and the Great Famine in King’s County. He is also co-editor of Dublin and the Great Famine.  

This talk is being presented by the OPW as part of the cultural programme at Doneraile Court





Doneraile Court
Doneraile Court
Doneraile, Cork P51XR66 Ireland
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