While staying with family in County Louth, I paid a visit to Haggardstown’s old graveyard where many of my ancestors are buried. Walking among the headstones, you realize that beneath your feet lie the bones of people who once lived meaningful lives. Some had their time tragically cut short.
For example, the image above is of the grave of a young man, Doctor Lawrence Martin, who showed great public spirit by establishing a free library in Dundalk. He died in his early thirties, serving his community, as he zealously worked to help the sick. It was at a time when typhoid was rampant in the area and young Doctor Martin succumbed to the disease himself on 14 November, 1847.
That was in the third year of the Great Irish Famine, with over 628 starving and destitute people recorded as being in the local workhouse on November 6 of that particular year. Many died because their resistance to disease was greatly lowered by malnutrition.
‘In 1847 this death from “fever” accounted for some 4% of all physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries in Ireland. The mortality was somewhat higher among those manning the 665 dispensaries, over 100 fever hospitals, and over 5000 fever beds in the poor law institutions, and among the attendants of the 600,000 patients who, between March 1846 and August 1850, had been treated in the so called “temporary” fever hospitals (often sheds, tents, or lean-tos, with an average patient mortality of 10.4%, average bed stay of 24 days, and at an average cost of 10 pence a day). In the same period, of the 473 additional medical officers appointed to “fever duties,” 8% had died on duty.’ You can read more here.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Beneath Your Feet.”