The County of Kerry suffered a drop on population of 19% between the Census of  1841 and the Census of 1851 as a result of An Gorta Mór –  from starvation, disease or emigration.  While this was the overall drop, it varied from from 52% drop in Killahan (or Dunquin 48%) to Kilflynn 9% (or Killarney 8%). Do you know what your Civil Parish suffered? See full list here.

Since last month (Jan 2023) we have fresh evidence from five Kerry Catholic parishes of the death rate and other first-hand accounts    These were published in The Death Census of Black 47: Eyewitness Accounts of Ireland’s Great Famine (Open Access).  I will summarise the five reports from Kerry over the next couple of weeks, with the parishes of Ballylongford & Tarbert to-day but  I would strongly recommend reading the accounts of the Kerry parishes in full through this Open Access or your local library. 

The Catholic union of Ballylongford and Tarbert was located on the south-west coast, in north Kerry, in the barony of Iraghticonnor.  Ballylongford Catholic parish was coextensive with Aghavallen Civil Parish and Tarbert Catholic Parish with Kilnaughtin civil parish.

‘The 1831 census reported parish populations of 5,698 (Ballylongford/Aghavallen) and 4,371 (Tarbert/Kilaughtin) respectively.   In 1841 41 per cent of the housing was classified as fourth class and the female illiteracy rate was 74 per cent. The population of the Union was overwhelmingly Catholic.  The Public Instruction Commissioners identified 93 per cent of the 1831 population as Catholic but the Protestant numbers were artificially boosted by the presence of military fortifications, a customs office and a lighthouse on Tarbert Island.

McCarthy’s 780 deaths in the six-month period during the Famine amount to a yearly total of nearly 1,400. By this time the parish’s population had dropped to perhaps about 10,500, which implies a catastrophic mortality rate of about 130 per 1,000 people.’