Droumtariff, Nov. 8, 1847.
SIR– On Friday last, the day for distributing a scanty ration, a large body of those who have been looked upon as “able-bodied,” but who are now in reality infirm from hunger, assembled around the issue-shop, in the vain hope that a few “crumbs” might remain for them. Their hope was vain. Even some of those who were legally entitled to relief, did not get it; owing to the parsimonious economy of the Board of Poor-law Guardians in not passing the Relieving Officer’s estimate for the current fortnight.
On the relieving officer announcing to them that he had no more meat for the present, no one can describe their consternation. They were struck dumb for a moment. Soon after they burst forth into a cry which continued for several minutes; when, as if by common instinct, they proceeded to the residence of their parish priest, the Rev. Mr. Tuomy. There again they renewed their wailings with redoubled earnestness. These unusual sounds at such a late hour in the night (between 7 and 8 o’clock), at first startled the rev. gentleman. But on a moment’s reflection he judged the cause and proceeded forthwith to the door. There he saw numbers of his parishioners of all ages assembled, with the tears rolling down their emaciated cheeks, asking for bread. He could not be otherwise than deeply affected, and he divided amongst them his last shilling.
O! how sad and sickening to the feeling heart must not such a scene be?
Hunger is not the only affliction which excites our sympathy; fever and dysentery, its usual concomitants, are fast settling in.
I am aware that within this week, the Rev. Mr. Tuomy had to administer the last rites of the church to a dying person in a miserable hovel (there being no vacancy in the fever hospitals) where there were three different families, without a human being to attend them, lying in fever.
In thus giving a faint idea of the miseries of the poor in this district, I trust that the eyes of the “powers that be,” may be sooner or later opened to the miseries which surround us. –I have the honour to be, your obedient servant,