28 December 2005

Poem Five: Want/Plenty

I found reference to this document (the one that prompted this poem) from 1846 in the National Archives in Dublin in some things that a local historian had lent me. I was intrigued by the idea of labelling heads of households with W or P, so I went to see if for myself. It's in the Relief Commission Papers, set apart in an area of their own in the Library.It's a very tidy little handmade booklet, beautiful really. Just lists of townlands in the areas near Mohill, names and Ws and Ps. Perhaps the intentions behind the making of the list were sincere, but today it seems mostly like an act of absurdity. The elegant handwritten preface reads, verbatim: "Loughwrinn Union List. With an accurate acct of this town lands and the names of the persons seemingly distressed for subsistence living on said farms in the electoral division of Loughwrinn together with placing the letter P at the foot of every mans name where plentiness appeared and placing the letter W at the foot of the distressed mans or persons name which signifies want."


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