Relief from New England during Ireland’s Famines with Dr. Christine Kinealy and Dr. Catherine B. Shannon

This discussion between two leading historians will examine how the people of New England – both those of Irish of descent and those with no connection to Ireland – came to the assistance of the starving poor during the country’s intermittent famines. The famous journey of the “Jamestown” from Boston to Cork in 1847 will be examined, as will relief to Ireland during the “forgotten famines” of 1860-62 and 1879-82.

Learn more about Irish Rambles Nantucket – Bridge of Culture St. Patrick’s Celebration here! 

Dr. Christine Kinealy is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, where she completed her doctorate on the introduction of the Poor Law to Ireland. She then worked in educational and research institutes in Dublin, Belfast and Liverpool. She has published extensively on the impact of the Great Irish Famine and has lectured on the relationship between poverty and famine in India, Spain, Canada, France, Finland and New Zealand. She also has spoken to invited audiences in the British Parliament and in the U.S. Congress. Based in the United States since 2007, she was named one of the most influential Irish Americans in 2011 by “Irish America” Magazine. In 2013, she received the Holyoke, Mass. St. Patrick’s Day Parade’s Ambassador Award. In March 2014, she was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame.

Dr. Catherine B. Shannon is Professor Emerita of History at Westfield State University.  She has written on the historical roots of Irish partition and the Northern Irish conflict in her book Arthur J. Balfour and Ireland, 1874-1922 and in chapters on Lord Randolph Churchill in The Churchills in Ireland, Connections and Controversies, ed. Robert McNamara. She was actively involved in the 1980s and 1990s in the search for a peaceful settlement in Northern Ireland by organizing conferences and symposia that promoted dialogue between nationalist and unionist politicians and commentators, and that educated Boston audiences about the complexities of the Northern Irish conflict.  She has published articles on the role of women in the peace process and convened conferences in 1994 and 1999 where women from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland discussed their aspirations for peace and roles in achieving it. Her chapter on the impact of Bill Clinton’s historic visits to Belfast in 1995 and 1998 on the Irish peace process was published in The Foreign Policy of the Clinton Administration, ed. Rosanna Perotti (2019).  Dr. Shannon was the first woman President of the Charitable Irish Society of Boston and also served as President of the Eire Society of Boston.


The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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