Ireland’s Great Famine or The Great Hunger, as it is more commonly referred to today, ranks among the worst tragedies in the sweep of human history. Between 1845 and 1850, approximately 1.5 million Irish men, women and children died of starvation or related diseases.
By 1855, more than two million more fled Ireland to avoid a similar fate. This decimation of her population makes Ireland’s Great Hunger both the worst chapter in the country’s history, and arguably, the single worst catastrophe in 19th century Europe.
The Lender Family Special Collection is one of the most extensive collections of art and literature in America devoted to Ireland’s Great Famine. The An Gorta Mor collection includes nearly 700 volumes regarding the famine and related events. Some of these volumes are extremely rare and were written at or close to the time of the famine itself. The collection is available for scholarly research and may be used only on the premises. The contemporary sculptures depicting the Irish famine are on view throughout the Bernhard Library.