When Ireland Fell Silent
The Great Irish Famine of 1845-52, which decimated the main food crop throughout Ireland, was blamed on the potato blight, but the situation was greatly exacerbated by Britain’s economic, political, and social policies toward the Irish. While not all Anglo-Irish landlords used the opportunity for land clearance, many did. Relief was withheld by the British government even as food was being exported out of the country. Private aid was given, but it was heavily controlled by the British Parliament and seldom sufficient to make a difference. When forced off their land, those who could emigrate to “Americay” did so. Those who could not leave faced starvation.
In Harolyn Enis’ When Ireland Fell Silent, this story is told through the voice of eighteen-year-old Liam Reilly and his family, crofters in County Mayo. They watch as family, friends, and neighbors are evicted and left to fend for themselves by absentee landlords. When the Reillys also lose their crop to the blight, they struggle to keep their home and family together.
Harolyn Enis has written a well-researched and disturbing account of the Great Famine. She uses primary sources to provide information about the chief architects of the British policy toward the Irish. As an educator, Enis has used story to instruct the reader on the culture, place, and time. Appropriate for young adults, this story will be of interest to many adults.