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suffering exists. Fever and dysentery are everywhere prevalent, and the means of relief by medical care are very insufficient. It is true that grants were made under the authority of the relief commissioners, for the support of fever hospitals in many places, and these were doubtless of much value. But the extent of sickness was so great, that hospital accommodation could not be provided for all ; and in some of the worst parts, where disease was most prevalent, the hasty establishment of a temporary hospital, which must have been very inadequate to the wants of the district, might even have increased the suffering it was intended to relieve ; inasmuch as many would probably be brought to it, who could not obtain admission, and would be left exposed to the weather, in the ditches near the hospital, waiting until they could get in. Yet notwithstanding the want of hospital accommodation and medical care, the mortality among the poor from fever has not been large, in proportion to the great number of cases. Among the higher classes, the case has been different ; there have been many deaths. Those who were most actively engaged for the relief of distress have been most exposed to the danger of contagion. Many have died of fever caught while in the discharge of their duty, and their country has been deprived of their services in this day of distress, when they appeared to be more than ever necessary.*
The want of clothing is everywhere greatly felt. On this subject the most affecting statements have been made. When we consider the circumstances, nothing else could be expected. Last year the poor people parted with all they could spare ; they sold or pawned them, in order to obtain food, retaining the smallest possible quantity, often quite insufficient for protection from the cold, or even for decency. Their scanty earnings were absorbed in obtaining food for themselves and their families; therefore they could purchase nothing to replace the old clothes, which gradually wore out, leaving them in some cases so devoid of covering, as to prevent them leaving their cabins. This want of clothing has a strong tendency to increase disease, both from insufficient protection
* The following extract of a letter from the medical attendant of the Swineford dispensary, shows the fearful amount of sickness there existing: “I candidly confess that I know not how to act under the “ circumstances in which I am placed, as the medical attendant of the "dispensary, which is the only institution to which for miles around “me the poor can have recourse. I am overwhelmed by the numbers “ hourly and minutely applying for relief. With the exception of the “resident clergymen, there is not a single person in the entire district “ from whom we can expect any assistance, and their means are now “ fast diminishing. Death is also thinning their numbers, and one of “the most amiable and best of men, the Rev. Mr. Tyndal, rector of the “neighbouring parish of Kilmacteigue, a few days ago fell a victim to his “exertions on behalf of the poor."
against the inclemency of the weather, and from the extreme difficulty of personal cleanliness, when the same clothes are necessarily worn night and day. How to supply this want is a question of great difficulty ; but certainly, unless they can obtain some assistance before winter sets in, a large proportion of the population will be exposed to severe and greatly increased suffering
The peasantry of Connaught usually make their own clothing, consisting of linen, knitted stockings, a coarse but very serviceable flannel for women's clothes, and a good frieze for men.* These articles were regularly offered for sale in all the markets and fairs of the west, and formed no inconsiderable source of traffic. They constituted a domestic manufacture, which having existed from time immemorial, still maintained a precarious existence in competition with the cheaper but less durable fabrics of England. The fleece of his own sheep, spun and woven in his own house, at seasons which otherwise would have been unemployed, enabled the cottier and peasant farmer to provide comfortable clothing for his family, which it was hardly possible for him to obtain in any other way. Such
* This domestic manufacture is not confined to Connaught; it exists also in some parts of Munster, in the county of Donegal, and in the western counties of Leinster; but it is more prevalent in Connaught than in any other province of Ireland.
a manufacture must, no doubt, eventually yield before the spread of that civilization, which, in the division of labour, restricts each individual to one occupation, and thus increases his capability and his skill ; but it would be cause of much regret, if the present circumstances should destroy this ancient home manufacture, before the natural period of its decay. There is some danger that the looms and spinning wheels, which have been broken up or sold, may not be replaced ; in which case, the industry of our Connaught peasantry will be even lower than it has hitherto been.
A large proportion of the able-bodied labourers must have obtained employment at harvest work, either in Ireland or in England ; yet probably the demand for labourers on this account was less than usual, in consequence of the remarkably fine weather. Many have also been engaged in the various works of drainage and other improvements, carried on under the superintendence of the Board of Works; the number probably amounts to 12,000. The several railways in process of construction have given much employment, occupying perhaps as many as 70,000 labourers, almost all of whom are natives of Ireland. Counting five persons to every family, these sources of employment would support a proportion of 410,000 persons. On the other hand, many of the farmers, unable to pay
money wages, and the usual mode of paying for labour by land in con-acre having been impracticable this year, have been forced to do all their work without employing any labour beyond that of their own family. The gentry, finding their means diminished, have in many cases contracted their expenditure, manage with fewer servants, and employ fewer labourers. The same cause has produced a general stagnation in almost every branch of trade and manufacture. There are but few houses being built, and therefore the various tradesmen connected with building are in want of employment. The demand for clothes is also less than usual, notwithstanding the great want of them which is everywhere felt. The number of unemployed artizans continues to be very large, though many of them have removed to England, especially from the cities. The distress among this class of persons is very severe, and more keenly felt than by the agricultural population, because they possess stronger feelings of independence. From all these causes, it results that there are numbers of strong, active labourers, willing to work, but unable to find any one to employ them; and if to these be added the multitude of sick, infirm, aged, widows, and orphans, the number of persons unable to exist without alms or relief from the poor-rates becomes truly appalling.