Fleeing from famine in Connemara
James Hack Tuke and assisted emigration schemes in the 1880s
Between 1882 and 1884 the English philanthropist and Quaker James Hack Tuke assisted nearly 5,000 poor and destitute people from Connemara and sent them to the United States and Canada. The aim was to rescue them from perennial starvation and famine, while at the same time improving the position of those who remained at home as they would have more land and receive remittances from the emigrants. The Tuke Committee provided the funding in 1882, but soon realized the magnitude of the task and in 1883 and 1884 secured government financial assistance for the schemes. Despite opposition, Tuke felt that assisted emigration was the only short-term solution to poverty and destitution in Connemara.
Gerard Moran is a researcher at the SSRC, National University of Ireland, Galway, and has published extensively on nineteenth-century Ireland, including Sending out Ireland’s poor: assisted emigration to North America in the nineteenth century (Dublin, 2013).