Emigrant Remittances and the Family in Post-Famine Ireland

DATE: 11th October 2024
TIME: 5.30pm - 6.30pm
WHERE: EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum
COST: Free

Join us as we explore the critical lifeline of emigrant remittances during Ireland’s late 1840s famine. Discover how these funds prevented evictions, paid off debts, and sustained families through letters and primary sources. This fascinating talk will uncover the balance between escaping poverty and seizing new opportunities abroad, and reveal the profound impact on the local economy and emigrants’ expectations.

‘Almighty prosper you . . . these gifts will make me all right’

Ireland’s Famine of the late 1840s decimated the rural population, causing high rates of death, land clearance and accelerating emigration. Many of those left at home continued to live in poverty, and cash remittances sent home by emigrant relatives was for many, an essential element of household income. While some remittances funded further emigration, remittance cash was also used to pay rent or other debts. For some remittance cash could make the difference between holding the homestead and eviction.

By using examples of letters home and other primary sources, this talk will assess the monetary and social value of emigrant remittances back to Ireland and their impact on family circumstance and the local Irish economy. It will explore the expectations on those who left as well as those who remained behind. It will discuss the degree to which emigrants were pulled towards opportunity and freedom abroad, as well as fleeing poverty at home.

Tickets via Eventbrite.

About our speaker

Fiona Slevin is a PhD candidate in UCD’s School of History. Her thesis focuses on the commercial dynamics of a small, rural town in post-Famine Ireland (1850-1875), including the money flows to ordinary families. Prior to her studies, Fiona had a career in business as a tech entrepreneur and change management consultant. She has published a number of histories of south Leitrim in the nineteenth century. As well as a history of the Upper Leeson Street area, Dublin. In 2023, she was awarded the ESHSI New Researchers Prize. See more at www.loughrynn.net.