Keel, Milltown, Kerry, March 8, 1846 [sic]
SIR, — I gladly avail myself of your kind offer of inserting in your valuable journal a statement of the awful state of destitution to which the inhabitants of this district are reduced, with the sincere hope that the benevolent and humane who are so liberally contributing relief to other distressed localities may be induced to extend their aid to the equally wretched poor of this parish.
This district extends from Castlemain westward towards Dingle, a distance of nine miles, is densely populated, and from the facility of obtaining sea manure, being bounded on one side by the sea, and on the other by a chain of mountains, is entirely a tillage country; and, like all similarly circumstanced districts, is now in a state of the direst distress, the potatoes being completely gone since November, and not a grain of corn even to seed the ground.
Several deaths from starvaton hav already occurred, and both fever and dysentry are fearfully on the increase, and the bodies frequently interred without coffins. The only food on some farms is boiled seaweed, or, as it is called dhoolamaun, which naturally adds to the spread of dysentry.
A poor woman, who had come a distance of five miles to gather some, was a few days ago found dead by a ditch, and would have been buried without a coffin had it not been that a Coroner happening to be in the neighbourhood, held an inquest, and ordered her one. The verdict found was “death from starvation.”
The Clergymen of the Parishes of all religions, assisted by some Ladies, have established a Soup Kitchen in Castlemain for this and the equally distressed parish of Kiltallagh, and have already been the means, under Providence, of saving many lives; and, to their shame be it said, some proprietors deriving large incomes from this place, have refused to contribute to this most useful establishment, while others have not condescended to reply to our applications! Excellent soup is sold at 1/2d. per quart; and those unable to buy at that price, are given free tickets. This must, of course, entail a considerable loss; and to supply this, I beg, through your columns, to appeal to the charitable and humane for aid.
Any remittance made either to the Rev. Mr. Sandes, Milltown, the Rev. Mr. Carmody, Castlemain, or to myself, will be thankfully received.
I would apologise for occupying so much of your excellent paper, but I am sure it gives you pleasure to be the means of relieving the wants of your starving fellow-creatures.
I am, Sir, your obedient faithful servant,
EDWARD RAE, J.P.