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Lyons Den Books

Feed the Children First: 
Irish Memories of the Great Hunger

(Atheneum, 2002.  ISBN: 0-689--84226-0)

I heard me aunt say it was nothing to see a woman with six or seven children come into a house that time looking for a bite to eat, and the woman of the house would give her a noggin of milk and stirabout made of oaten meal.
 â€”Kate Flood, County Longford, Ireland (Irish Folklore Commission Main Manuscript Collection Volume 1480:136-137)

The Great Irish Potato Famine--the Great Hunger--was one of the worst disasters of the nineteenth century. Within seven years of the onset of a fungus that wiped out Ireland's staple potato crop, more than one quarter of the country's eight million people had either starved to death, died of disease, or emigrated to other lands. Photographs have documented the horrors of other cataclysmic times in history--slavery and the Holocaust--but there are no known photographs whatsoever of the Great Hunger.

In Feed the Children First, Mary E. Lyons combines first-person accounts of those who remembered the Great Hunger with artwork that evokes the times and places and voices themselves. The result is a close-up look at incredible suffering, but also a celebration of joy the Irish took in stories and music and helping one another--all factors that helped them endure.

Read a review of this title


The Great Famine lasted from 1845-1852. The 150th anniversary is still being observed in Ireland and America.

Read about the Famine Museum in Ireland.

The "Irish Hunger Memorial" was dedicated in New York City on July 16, 2002.

Learn more about the memorial.

See more Famine memorials in Ireland, Great Britain, the U.S., and Canada.


Each speaker in Feed the Children First lived in one of Ireland's thirty-two counties. Kate Flood, for example, was from County Longford.  Point to County Longford on the map.

Right-click on the map and choose "print".  While reading Feed the Children First, use the map to locate the counties where speakers lived.






activity  TAKE A TRIP

During and after the Great Hunger, millions of Irish left their homeland and went to North America.  Let's follow their path.  First, point to the white box on the map.  You've just found Ireland.  Now move your finger to the left and travel west across the Atlantic Ocean.  You've reached the continent of North America.  Your journey took only a few seconds.  Ships carrying Irish passengers took many weeks to make the crossing.


Map of the counties courtesy of Local Ireland

World map courtesy of