Category Archives: Immigration

Declan O’Rourke Indian Meal

Declan O’Rourke Indian Meal

Declan O'Rourke Indian Meal


It is easy to think that during the Great Irish Famine–caused mainly by the potato blight–that there was no other food available to the starving.


That was not the case.


As noted in previous posts (A, B, C, & D), the British landlords of Ireland controlled most of the land and used the best pastures for raising animals which the owners exported to England and other places.


In other words, there was food, but British bias permitted an acceptance of what most today would label genocide.


There’s ships leavin’ full of pigs, heifers, and lambs

Some transportin’ convicts to Van Diemaen’s Land

We’re hemorrhagin’ barrels of butter and grain

And all that comes back in and all that remains is…

Indian meal, Indian meal, Indian meal.

(Van Diemen’s Land was the original name used for the island of Tasmania, now part of Australia.)


Declan O’Rourke Indian Meal

Declan O'Rourke Indian Meal
Famine meal ticket

Indian Meal

The fifth song of Declan O’Rourke’s Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine album is “Indian Meal.” Once again, the melody belies the message.


The seemingly happy-go-lucky step-dancing tune carries a bitter message: your potato is gone. Be satified with what you can find.


In the midst of the famine, the English changed leadership and charged Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan with famine relief.


Declan O'Rourke Indian Meal
Charles Edward Trevelyan

According to the History Place site, “ Trevelyan ordered the closing of the food depots in Ireland that had been selling…Indian corn. He also rejected another boatload of Indian corn already headed for Ireland. His reasoning, as he explained in a letter, was to prevent the Irish from becoming “habitually dependent” on the British government. His openly stated desire was to make “Irish property support Irish poverty.”


Declan O’Rourke Indian Meal

Despite that laissez-faire policy, corn meal did become one of the things that the starving Irish did have access to.

Somewhat.

For a penny a pound. Storehouses often stayed full of Indian meal because the starving who literally stood outside the storehouse,  had no money.

Bothar bui–Yellow Road

They’re pavin’ the streets of Americay

With gold at your feet for a dollar a day

While here on the works we make botharin bui

For the yella’ or barely a shillin’ a piece.


Road workers, in lieu of cash, accepted Indian meal as payment. Ironically, at the same time that myth described the streets of America as “paved with gold,” many roads of Ireland became known as “yellow roads” because workers survived–barely–on the yellow corn meal. 


Some rural Irish roads today still contain the name Bothar bui.


For the majority of the Irish, daily life was often a torturous path to death by disease due to starvation.


Again from the History Place site: Nicholas Cummins, the magistrate of Cork, visited the hard-hit coastal district of Skibbereen. “I entered some of the hovels,” he wrote, “and the scenes which presented themselves were such as no tongue or pen can convey the slightest idea of. In the first, six famished and ghastly skeletons, to all appearances dead, were huddled in a corner on some filthy straw, their sole covering what seemed a ragged horsecloth, their wretched legs hanging about, naked above the knees. I approached with horror, and found by a low moaning they were alive — they were in fever, four children, a woman and what had once been a man. It is impossible to go through the detail. Suffice it to say, that in a few minutes I was surrounded by at least 200 such phantoms, such frightful spectres as no words can describe, [suffering] either from famine or from fever. Their demoniac yells are still ringing in my ears, and their horrible images are fixed upon my brain.” 


Declan O’Rourke Indian Meal


 

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Immigrants Refugees Migrants

Immigrants Refugees Migrants

Immigrants Refugees Migrants

The media seem unsure which word to use when reporting nowadays. Of course this issue is new. Of course.

ANITA
I’ll get a terrace apartment

BERNARDO
Better get rid of your accent

ANITA
Life can be bright in America

BOYS
If you can fight in America

GIRLS
Life is all right in America

BOYS
If you’re all white in America

Immigrants Refugees Migrants

 

What's in a word? According to an article in The Guardian, "At its simplest, a migrant is someone who moves from one place to another in order to live in another country for more than a year. The International Organisation of Migration estimates that 232 million people a year become international migrants and another 740 million move within their own countries." 
The same article continues, "A refugee is a person who has fled armed conflict or persecution and who is recognised as needing of international protection because it is too dangerous for them to return home. They are protected under international law by the 1951 refugee convention, which defines what a refugee is and outlines the basic rights afforded to them."(click/tap >>> Guardian article)

The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

march_13.previewFrom its site: The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) works to defend and expand the rights of all immigrants and refugees, regardless of immigration status. Since its founding in 1986, the organization has drawn membership from diverse immigrant communities, and actively builds alliances with social and economic justice partners around the country. As part of a global movement for social and economic justice, NNIRR is committed to human rights as essential to securing healthy, safe and peaceful lives for all. (click/tap >>>  NNIRR site)
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