John Kelly's "The Graves are Walking" is profound writing describing the depth of despair and the sufferings of the Irish people during the period known as the Great Famine. It is a narrative story revealing the political essence of the tragic events that took place back in 1845 and lasted for almost five years. John Kelly shows the reader how men, women, children died of starvation. "The Graves are Walking" uncovers the depth of the tragedy experienced by the people of Ireland during the Great Famine when one million people died and another million people emigrated to save themselves and their families from starvation. John Kelly's "The Graves are Walking" analyzes the dramatic events of 1845-1850 and their contribution to the exodus of almost a quarter of the population of Ireland in less than a decade leading to the subsequent emigration of millions of Irish people hoping to find a better future in other countries (Kelly, 2012, p.2). The Great Famine greatly distressed the Irish nation and stimulated the development of Irish poverty as a result of the inadequacy of the government's relief efforts.
John Kelly in his "The Graves are Walking" provides an outstanding analysis of the period of the Great Famine and its consequences for the Irish people. The gives a clear definition of the tragic potato famine of 1845-1850 as an intermediate-product of British political manipulations. "The Graves are Walking," tells a story of how the Irish potato fields were struck by crop disease, and millions of people had nothing to eat and died of starvation. It was a chance for the British to save their honor and millions of lives, but no measures were taken. According to Kelly, the industrial collapse of 1820 became the first evident premise of the hard times for the Irish people forcing them to settle agricultural fields everywhere to ensure the availability of food, particularly potato. The farmers were burdened with excessive British rent rates and were forced to lease out a part of their land to earn some money for the rent (Kelly, 2012, p.9). It was the dead-end provoking hunger and despair among the population of Ireland as the British landlords started evicting thousands of starving farmers who had no money to pay the rent for the land. A vast amount of Irish farmers were simply forced to leave their houses and could not collect wheat or any other crops to pay the rent. These actions were dictated by the Poor Law Extension Act adopted by the British government (Kelly, 2012, p.119). The books provide terrifying evidence of the fact that farmers who still had homes were dying at home, those who could not pay the rent for a home were dying on the streets. Potato cultivation became the only possible solution for the Irish farmers as one acre of potato land produced almost six tons of potatoes. This amount of potato was sufficient to feed a family of six members for the period of one year (Kelly, 2012, p.10). According to John Kelly's "The Graves are Walking" the described above premises of the Irish collapse lead to the spreading of extreme poverty. The population of Ireland was already starving before the potato famine. When the 1845 potato disease decreased the harvest of potatoes the hunger began to spread even faster. By the summer of 1847, European and American newspapers stated that "the only thing the Irish knew how to do any more was die" (Kelly, 2012, p.281). John Kelly minutely describes how the dreadful potato disease caused the collapse of Ireland using an impressing amount of sources as evident support of his words. The book analyzes the Irish dependence on potatoes and the fact that the disease "slithered" the Irish agriculture as sheer devastation of Ireland (Kelly, 2012, p.30). According to the data provided by John Kelly, it took no more than four days for the disease to obliterate the harvest of 1846 destroying Ireland's hopes for salvation from starving to death (Kelly, 2012, p.111).
The book profoundly analyzes the inadequacy of the reaction of the British government to the famine in Ireland. Kelly's major emphasis is concentrated on the demonstrated inability of the British government to do something to help Ireland. Kelly portrays the situation of Ireland in 1845-1850 as an "abyss" ignored by the British government (Kelly, 2012, p.61). The Corn Laws adopted by the British policy undermined the possibility to import food to save the population of Ireland from death. The author sees the omission of the British rule as the result of a very deformed mindset perceiving the famine in Ireland as a "direct stroke of an all-wise Providence" (Kelly, 2012, p. 127). In other words, the potato disease "solved" certain problems for the British government related to Ireland's growing population and " unacceptable" agriculture patterns. John Kelly, through his book, reassures the British fault for the terrifying consequences of the potato famine in Ireland. The British government's inadequate reaction was partially stimulated by the strong desire to force the Irish people into what the British viewed as a better way of life for them. "The Graves are Walking" ensures the reader that the British government perceived the Irish catastrophe as a "divine intent" that can assist in creating a new market economy reform in Ireland "naturally" (Kelly, 2012, p. 165). All the ideas associated with the preservation of the lives of Irish people were ignored just like Lord Russell's acknowledgment that the British have converted Ireland into the poorest and weakest country in the world (Kelly, 2012, p. 127). Lord Russell's speech "drowned" in the indifference of British people towards the Irish tragedy and became the key point of the transformation of the Irish psyche. The devastating truth is that the British government used the tragic event of the Great Famine as a "springboard" necessary to reshape Ireland and change it under British rule. John Kelly in his "The Graves are Walking" makes a strong accent on the fact that the Great Famine was mainly the consequence of a type of thinking which is very different from the modern one. John Kelly's "The Graves are Walking" evidently demonstrates that the British government and the Irish landowners could not decide who is to take measures and help the poor Irish people. The British government wanted the Irish landowners to cope with the crisis on their own and the Irish landowners wanted the British government to take responsibility for the crowds of hungry people. The reason for such indecision was then Britain's intent to perform an economic reform to Ireland during the famine. In turn, the Irish landlords used the famine as a source for the increase of income (Kelly, 2012, p. 26). According to Kelly, Britain's inability to stem the crisis was stimulated by the desire to destroy the rural subsistence economy of Ireland. "The Graves are Walking" presents Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan as a personality who strongly affected the situation in Ireland and the Great Famine describing him as a "consummate fool" (Kelly, 2012, p. 87). It is very hard to underestimate Trevelyan's contribution to the evolution of the potato famine in Ireland as his efforts were primarily focused on the prevention of any relief intervention to the Irish crisis. Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan wanted to modernize Ireland according to the patterns of a free market but instead, he created a depressed hungry nation. Kelly provides a detailed step-by-step analysis of Trevelyan's negative impact on the dreadful events which took place from 1845 till 1850 and provoking a massive outpouring of nine million more in the century that followed. Therefore, the ignorance of the British government aggravated the consequences of the Great Famine to Irish history.
The book "The Graves are Walking" provides horrifying data revealing the truth about the role of the British government in the Great Famine in Ireland. The author simply presents the facts of British omission to the reader and these facts speak louder than any high-flown talks. Kelly presents the Great Famine as a deliberate genocide, although claims that the term genocide has been "discredited" as related to the Irish famine (Kelly, 2012, p. 3). It goes without saying that it is up to the reader to decide and analyze what happened in Ireland back in 1845. Nevertheless, it is necessary to acknowledge that the British decision to put its political ideas ahead of humanism has led to the devastation of the Irish nation and has created major psychic shifts in the self-perception of the Irish people. The tragic consequences of the Great Famine experienced by the Irish people created a deep mortification that has become a part of the Irish legacy and perception of the world. This perception practically explains the attitude of the Irish nation to the British people and government. John Kelly's "The Graves are Walking" is an outstanding book presenting the sufferings of the Irish nation caused by inadequacy of the government's famine-relief efforts.
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