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Dr Dan’s Skibbereen famine horrors shared in new podcast

September 24th, 2021 8:00 PM

By Brian Moore

Scene from famine times. Picture: Shutterstock

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THE tragedy of hunger, disease and death during the Great Hunger in West Cork has been brought chillingly to life as part of a new RTÉ podcast drama series.

The Famine Monologues, features six individual memories, and was written by Anna Carey and performed by Irish actors.

Episode two features a letter written by Dr Daniel Donovan from Skibbereen as part of the Great Famine Project by RTÉ.

The Doctor’s Story’, recalls a letter sent by Dr Donovan to the southern reporter of a newspaper in Cork city, where he describes the screens of starvation and death in Skibbereen and the surrounding areas.

Actor Ray Scannell is the voice of Dr Dan, as he was known locally, and recalls the images of the ghost-like people with ‘starvation stamped on every face’ as they struggle to survive.

In ‘The Doctor’s Story,’ listeners will hear Dr Dan describe how helpless he feels as hundreds of starving, disease ridden and hopeless people flock to the workhouse in Skibbereen only to die due to a lack of medicine and proper care.

The Famine Monologues brings together the stories of everyday people, from tenant farmers, mothers, Quaker relief workers, the British officials and of course the emigrants who witnessed the horrors created by potato blight, mismanagement and cruel indifference on the population in 1846.

‘I spent much of the last year working as an editor on The Great Irish Famine Project and reading so much about the Famine both broke my heart and opened my eyes to the sheer scale of the horrors experienced by those who lived through it,’ author Anna Carey said.

‘While people did starve to death during the Famine, many more died thanks to the diseases which spread rapidly among the desperate population.

‘Dr Donovan clearly did his best to look after the people in the workhouse in Skibbereen.’

All six episodes of The Famine Monologues are available on RTÉ.ie podcasts.

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