AFTER a career spanning 30 years with Eli Lilly in Kinsale, Castlehaven native Catherine Flanagan is about to launch her first book.
Titled The Great Famine in Kinsale, it’s part of her thesis work at UCC and is evidence of her love of history.
‘I’ve always been very interested in history and after I finished work with Eli Lilly, I went back to college to study,’ Catherine told The Southern Star.
‘I first did a diploma and then I went on to complete a higher diploma in history. It was at this point that I became interested in the famine era.’
When Catherine finished school in Skibbereen, it was biology she went on to study at the CIT then known as Cork Regional Technical College.
‘Dr Larry Geary was my lecturer in UCC and he was an incredible help, he covered the famine period, which got me interested in looking at the famine from a local Kinsale perspective,’ Catherine said. ‘I started researching and completed a project on the subject in 2013, then after a few years I decided to do a masters degree in local history at UCC and it was then that Dr Geary suggested that I publish my project on the famine in Kinsale.’
Catherine’s book has brought the famine period to life for the people of Kinsale and the surrounding hinterland.
‘I live in Kinsale, even though Castlehaven is my home place, and I wanted to bring the history to the place where I live,’ Catherine said. ‘And once I started researching I couldn’t stop. I found I could walk in the footsteps of many of the victims around the town. The famine in Kinsale was almost forgotten, it was a blank canvas, many people would have thought there was no famine in Kinsale. In fact, 27% of the people in Kinsale died or emigrated during the famine and especially in areas like Dunderrow where the famine really hit the poor.
‘Then there was the cholera outbreak in 1849 which hit Kinsale with nearly a 50% death rate,’ Catherine said. ‘I got a lot of help from everyone in Kinsale who were very supportive and I want to thank everybody.’
Catherine will be officially launching her book, which is available online from Four Court Press, on Thursday, September 13th, at 5pm in the OHK cafe at The Glen in Kinsale.