The 'Irish Potato Famine'
Also known as the Great Hunger, or An Gorta Mor.
The complete failure of the Potato crop brought hardship
throughout the land. Throughout Ireland thousands where to die, many in Castle Dawson and the surrounding district.
doubt the death toll would have been much higher in the Castledawson area were it not for the compassion of the Rt Hon. George
Robert Dawson. At the time George Dawson occupied the castle and as a result of his caring and zealous intervention, saved
the lives of many of our ancestors, by (among other things) opening a soup kitchen at his home, something the villagers were
never to forget.
At the time the population of Castledawson was around 600, however, thousands were queueing daily
for food, but George Dawson did not shrink his responsibilities, and although there is no mention of where most of the starving
came from, no doubt many were from Drumlamph.
During the years spanning the 'Potato Famine' the population of Drumlamph
dropped by almost a quarter.
The 1841 census recorded an Irish population of 8.2 million
and by 1851 this figure had been reduced to 6.5 million. Though by no means definitive, these statistics give an indication
of the scale of the disaster. As many as 1 million people died from starvation and its attendant diseases, with the balance
seeking emigration to Britain
and North America.