Beneath Your Feet

irish famine, irish history, dundalk history

Memorial to Doctor Lawrence Martin.

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.”


About Jean Reinhardt

Author of 'A Pocket Full of Shells' an Amazon International best seller, Jean writes young adult and historical fiction. She has been known to shed a tear over Little House on the Prairie.
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9 Responses to Beneath Your Feet

  1. Dan Antion says:

    That’s a great response to the prompt Jean. Such a sad story. All those deaths are sad, but to die because you’re caring for others puts you in a special place in my mind. Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. asnappshot says:

    I guess its dust to dust ashes to ashes…….I know we all have our belief systems, but what really happens is one we all will see or not see, At least thats how I see it.

    Great post by the way!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. vronlacroix says:

    9000 bodies lie in the mass grave of Skibbereen, where I lived for a few years. A fate worse than death in battle, was death by hunger.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would have loved to use a photo of that graveyard for this post but didn’t have one of my own. What you say about starvation is so true, a terrible way to die. I was in Skibbereen a couple of weeks ago but the heritage center was closed. I’m hoping to go back soon to visit that graveyard, as it’s only about a ninety minute drive from where we live.


  4. It is always a strange melancholy reading the tombstone of someone that died in tragic circumstances, a hundred years ago. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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