The Famine clearance in Toomevara, County Tipperary
On 28 May 1849 at the height of the Great Famine, one of the country’s darkest periods, over 500 people were cruelly evicted from the village of Toomevara, county Tipperary. Reports of the clearance spread far and wide and its notoriety was such that it was discussed in the British house of commons. The determination to clear the village was carried out with little regard for the welfare or survival of its inhabitants and the conditions in which those who remained in the village found themselves in are difficult to comprehend in the present day. This publication is the first detailed study of the clearance. It examines Toomevara parish’s experience throughout the years 1845 to 1851 with particular focus on the clearance and the events which followed. A wide variety of sources are referred to, from official government records to local newspaper reports and local folk memory. The effects of the Famine were more than evident throughout the parish with close to half the population perishing or leaving the area. However as the study has found, perhaps the saddest part of Toomevara’s Famine history was the role some of its own people played in the suffering of their fellow parishioners in the period following the clearance sparking a bitterness which remained in the social memory of the parish for generations.
Helen O’Brien, a native of Toomevara in County Tipperary, lives in Dublin and works as a primary school teacher. She also holds an honours business degree from University of Limerick and a first class honours M.A. Local History from NUI Maynooth.