Politicians, elections and catastrophe: the general election of 1847

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    Over the last decade, much new research has appeared on the subject of the Great Irish Famine but, remarkably, a major political event during the famine - the 1847 general election - has received virtually no mention. Recent work on politics in this period has tended to concentrate on political reaction in Britain rather than Ireland. The aim of this article is to examine the response of Irish politicians to the famine during the general election of 1847. The main source has been the political addresses and nomination speeches of most of the 140 candidates. The evidence from this material shows that, although the famine was an important matter in many constituencies, it was not the dominant issue countrywide. Various proposals to deal with the famine emerged, but there was an absence of agreed, practical measures to deal with immediate problems. The parties in Ireland failed to create a common platform to challenge the government over its efforts. Ideological constraints played an important part in these failures. The general election of 1847 represents a lost opportunity to tackle some of the effects of the famine.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-34
    Number of pages34
    JournalIrish Political Studies
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007


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