Bridget O’Donnel and Children – 1849 of Irish Great Famine

The following is a newspaper article which appeared in The Illustrated London News edition of Saturday, December 22, 1849 about Bridget O’Donnel and her children of Garraunnatooha, Parish of ​Kilmacduane, Barony of Moyarta, County Clare, Ireland during the year 1849 of the Irish Great Famine. Her story is heart-wrenching and gives the reader an actual, authentic account of the types of travails our Irish ancestors endured in Ireland during the Irish Great Famine.

Bridget O'Donnel and children in 1849, County Clare, Ireland
Bridget O’Donnel and children in 1849, County Clare, Ireland

The Illustrated London News; London, England; edition of No. 404, Vol. XV, Number and Supplement, 1s; Saturday, December 22, 1849, pp 404, 406;


The Sketch of a Woman and Children represents Bridget O’Donnel. Her story is briefly this:- “I lived,” she said, “on the lands of Gurranenatuoha. My husband held four acres and a half of land, and three acres of bog land; our yearly rent was £7 4s.; we were put out last November; he owed some rent. We got thirty stone of oats from Mr. Marcus Keane, for seed. My husband gave some writing for it: he was paid for it. He paid ten shillings for reaping the corn. As soon as it was stacked, one “Blake” on the farm, who was put to watch it, took it away in to his own haggard and kept it there for a fortnight by Dan Sheedey’s orders. They then thrashed it in Frank Lellis’s barn. I was at this time lying in fever. Dan Sheedey and five or six men came to tumble my house; they wanted me to give possession. I said that I would not; I had fever, and was within two months of my down-lying (confinement); they commenced knocking down the house, and had half of it knocked down when two neighbours, women, Nell Spellesley and Kate How, carried me out. I had the priest and doctor to attend me shortly after. Father Meehan anointed me. I was carried into a cabin, and lay there for eight days, when I had the creature (the child) born dead. I lay for three weeks after that. The whole of my family got the fever, and one boy thirteen years old died with want and with hunger while we were lying sick. Dan Sheedey and Blake took the corn into Kilrush, and sold it. I don’t know what they got for it. I had not a bit for my children to eat when they took it from me.”