The Baltimore Sun from Baltimore, Maryland on August 30, 1997 · Page 2
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The Baltimore Sun from Baltimore, Maryland · Page 2

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Saturday, August 30, 1997
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Page 2a : Saturday, August 30, 1997 : The Sun no Sun Journal Irish famine returns to table talk 'Black 7' refers lo the irorsl rear of the potato blifjItL m. Manr Irish tried to srnrire bp emigrating to Anerica, particularly Boston, where a raised consciousness oflilack '47 lias taken hold. By Kevin Cullen BOSTON GLOBE BOSTON It was called Black '47, though few Americans know the phrase. Black '47 refers to 1847, the worst year of the Irish famine, a pptato blight that between 1845 and 1850 killed more than 1 million people and forced another 1.5 million to emigrate, most of them to North America. Many historians cite August as the worst month of Black '47, when the most people died or left Ireland. Besides setting in motion a sustained wave of immigration that , has made the Irish one of the world's great nomadic peoples, the famine shaped the social, ethnic, religious and political fabric of several cities along the East Coast. But despite the indelible impression the famine left on the United States, where those of Irish ancestry make up 18 percent of the population, the famine has only' recently become a subject for ppHte conversation. As was the case until recently in Ireland, the famine was once a taboo subject in the homes of many Irish-Americans, a reminder of their destitute roots and of a past often too painful to talk about. While previous generations of Irish-Americans were ashamed or apathetic about their past, that is beginning to change. There is a suddenly raised consciousness about the famine, nowhere more obvious than metropolitan Boston. In June, the first memorial in the United States for Irish famine victims was unveiled in Cambridge. Next year, a $1 million memorial, the most ambitious anywhere, will be unveiled in downtown Boston. In 1999, a memorial to some 800 people who escaped the famine only to die of disease in a quarantine station on Deer Island will be unveiled on the island. . While other cities that were initially swamped with famine refugees saw the Irish assimilate and move, the Boston Irish stuck close tthe city even after they replaced the establishment that initially loathed them. In the metropolitan Boston area, they became the dominant ethnic grup in politics aud business. Today, with 22 percent of its population claiming Irish ancestry, Boston is the only major city wjth an Irish-American population of more than 20 percent. Philadelphia is a distant second with id percent. Chicago and New York, which in the 19th century wre teeming with famine refugees, now have Irish-American populations of just 8 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Yet while many people know that Boston is, bj American standards, an Irish town, few know why. Ironically, the virulent fungus kown as Phytopthora infestans ended up in Ireland from a ship ttlat had sailed from Boston, ac- (410) 783-1800 Baltimore, Additional bUNUIAr topics can STOCKS 2000 BUSINESS & FINANCE 3000 Financial Headline 3001 Slock Market Update 3002 NEWS 3012 SPORTS 5ooo NFL 5003 Golf 5011 Birdline 5023 American League 5024 National League 5026 SUN NEWS EXTRA 6500 ir t v t t i- c Pays For Your Paper ' n v"" TTT1 o :r br.tvi j--j -siSv&r x . I ,,. - -1.JU-- .. tVT,-: H --" &&r- Can't pay the rent: This photo from the National Library of Ireland shows a family being evicted from their house after being unable to pay their landlord during the famine. 18 ... -,-r,:i r -" ir - Disaster strikes: A starving Irish family is shown in their home in Carraroe, County Galway, during the famine. cording to Kevin Whelan, a professor of history at University College Galway and who is considered a foremost authority on the famine. While Irish tenant farmers and peasants produced many crops that their British landlords exported, they had by the 1840s become almost totally dependent on the potato for subsistence. When the fungus caused Ireland's potato crop to rot with unprecedented speed, disaster struck. In 1845, a third of the crop rotted. Over the next two years, three-quarters was destroyed, while a third of the crop rotted in 1848. Starving farmers couldn't pay their rent and were evicted. They faced death, emigration or "taking the soup," in which Irish Catholics were forced to convert to Protestantism to receive food from church-based soup kitchens. While visitors were most moved by scenes of people dead on the roadside, their mouths stained green in a futile attempt to survive by eating grass, more people died from disease than starvation. Whelan says the British, who had been trying with little success to make their closest colony less rebellious and more profitable, saw the blight as a bit of divine social engineering. "Christian provi-dentialism," writes Whelan, "accepted the destruction of the Anne Arundel (410) 268-7736, Carroll (410) be round throughout the paper. Look MD LOTTERY 6020 SOAP OPERAS 7600 HOROSCOPES SENIORS 7630 7800 WEATHER 4ooo BaltimoreMetro 4003 BeachMountains 4030 For travel weather updates, dial 783-1800, press 8 followed by the first three letters of that city, for example, Boston is 8267 Atlantic City, Harrisburg and New Orleans . are exceptions. Press 81 followed by the first two letters. Today's coupon value: $35.00 Look here every day for a "Sun Super Saver" coupon with a value equal to or greater than the cost of your Italtimorc Sun newspaper. mm ; ' vf x mm A tr' potato as a good thing because the potato seemed to be the literal root of all Irish evil a lazy root, grown in lazy beds, by an incorrigibly lazy people." For most Irish, the choices were stark: Stay put and face almost certain death, or board one of the rickety "coffin ships" that were sailing for North America. Between 1845 and 1855, some 2 million a quarter of the island's population chose to leave. Having had a small but established Irish community since the Revolutionary War, Boston was the first U.S. city to respond to the famine. Bostonians sent some $150,000, an astronomical figure then, to Ireland during the famine. More poignant, however, was an effort put together mostly by Boston Brahmins. During Black '47, a group of mostly Protestant merchants got permission from Congress to use an idle U.S. warship to ferry food and provisions to the starving in and around Cork. By June 1847, Boston was teeming with refugees, and a quarantine station and hospital were set up on Deer Island. Some 5,000 Irish suffering from typhus, smallpox and cholera were sent there over the next three years, and about 800 of them died. Although Boston had been the most generous American city to famine vic 'ittitTti m (M.fis'i--Jie- 848-0338, Harford (410) 836-5028 tor ffie sun! -( Finance & Money Mortgage Rates 3100 Mortgage Calculation Line 3199 Sports & Activities Bal'imore Sun Apartment Search Hotline 7368 Lively Arts 6030 In-home wall-to-wall carpet estimate Universal Carpet i !I(KKS Yellow Brick Koad. Suite I I (near (iolden Ring Mall) I 4I0-574-4WK) Onlv 1 mikii per person per vlsli may he used. Kxpires 4117 j f ! ,.T J. tims, the refugees' physical condition when they arrived produced a backlash. Being Catholic, poor and uneducated, the Irish became the immigrant group most scorned in Yankee Protestant Boston. "No Irish Need Apply" was a common sign in the windows of shops and factories. Learning the history of Black '47 could become mandatory for Massachusetts students if a bill sponsored by two Democrats passes the Legislature this fall. If the bill passes, Massachusetts will join New York, New Jersey and California as states where public school students are taught about the Irish famine. Similar bills are pending in New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania and Illinois. The proliferation of such legislation, and the rhetoric of some Irish and Irish-American nationalists who use the famine as a stick to beat the British, worries some, especially the British government. Activists pushing the Massachusetts law, for example, call it the "genocide bill." John Kerr, who until last month was the British ambassador to the United States, said he feared the campaign to raise consciousness about the famine was being hijacked by anti-British activists and Irish Republican Army sympathizers. Tony Blair, the new British prime minister, defused much of the controversy in June, however, when he apologized for the former government's halfhearted relief efforts. Avril Doyle, the Irish government official who oversaw that country's commemoration efforts, says the impact of the famine on Boston, Ireland and the rest of the world is an underappreciated phenomenon. "Half of all the people born in Ireland since 1841 have emigrated," she said during a visit to Boston College this year. "There are 5 million people on the island of Ireland today. There are 44 million people of Irish descent in the United States, and 70 million in the Irish global diaspora. There's an umbilical cord there that has never been severed." 1 is,ff'Wsiisap w I HUilJ St Labor Day Sale 12 month Free Financing. Lehther Interiors 66J0 Bijttinwrr Natiimitl Ptie Calm.vUU, AW (410) 719-860 Fatitill al Bel Air (Srxl lo Pier One) Ret Mr. MD ;4'0)SH-J)S ONE IEI UP 1 ONLY Nil 1 The Other (j 5QUIRM5 H Bit. II f I f FT National Digest In Washington Starr moves closer to obtaining notes on Whitewater prosecutors won a round yesterday in their fight to obtain a lawyer's notes of his conversation with the late presidential aide Vincent W. Foster Jr. about the White House Travel Office firings. A split federal appeals court panel agreed with independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr that the attorney-client privilege protecting such discussions does not always extend beyond the grave. Starr is seeking the notes as part of his investigation to determine whether presidential aides lied about any role Hillary Rodham Clinton might have had in the firings of seven White House Travel Office employees in 1993. Deportations of immigrants rise 50 over last year The number of illegal immigrants ejected from the country this year is nearly 50 percent higher than at the same time last year thanks in part to tougher immigration rules Congress passed in 1996. Preliminary figures show that the Immigration and Naturalization Service deported 75,743 people during the nine-month period that ended June 30, 49.3 percent more than the 50,714 thrown out of the country during the same period in 1996. FAA acts to fix failures in radar at National Airport Technicians began a review of radar communications links at National Airport yesterday, after a series of malfunctions. At the same time, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered a contractor to install a direct link between the airport tower at National and a backup radar system at Andrews Air Force Base. The move followed an incident Thursday when flight information from the National Airport radar became unavailable and controllers were unable to switch immediately to the backup system at Andrews. In the nation Fla. jury quickly convicts man of shooting tourist MONTICELLO, Fla. A jury deliberated less than 30 minutes yesterday before convicting an 18-year-old man of trying to kill a British tourist who saw her boyfriend shot to death during a robbery attempt at a highway rest stop. Aundra Akins, found guilty of attempted murder, was only 14 when Margaret Jagger and Gary Colley were shot on Sept. 13, 1993. He is already serving a 27-year prison term after pleading guilty in 1995 to murdering Colley. The state is expected to ask for a 40-year sentence. No sentencing date was set. CORRECTION The financing information in our Jewish Times advertisement dated Friday, August 29th 1997 should have read: "6 Months Same as Cash." We apologize for any inconvenience. The Rowe Showplace LABOR DAY SAVINGS , . ,. . j ; -. ALREADY DISCOUNTED 8-way hand tied "Vl (-1 IUU Willi 'L-JJ- LATEST STYLES & '-v' ... jlvi START on your 1 . Tor me nome. omcny .ttswJ-- , nmiieu r UAY Minutes from lekway- Take 95 South lo tie 32 fasl, ihen 32Eas!E38A t5ie fee I SaA Washington Bud I Go one mile moke eti on frees Dr. lo A Dlvlilon Of Critical Mass bike protest : is peaceful, orderly SAN FRANCISCO Hundreds of bicyclists gathered yes- terday evening for the monthly traffic-snarling ride known as Critical Mass. The group appeared smaller than last month's near- riot that jammed intersections alC over town and led to in 1 15 arrests. Before that, Critical Mass rides, had been mostly peaceful affairs,' designed to point out the need for more bicycle-friendly streets. I Yesterday, hundreds of over-v time police officers were on hand, but fears that this month's ride would disintegrate into a riot never materialized. Police said riders were obeying traffic laws and al- lowing city buses to pass. Second female cadet drops out of Citadel CHARLESTON, S.C. A second woman from the group of 20 fnmnln A.4ntr. .. .1 11 I ml juiiiaic caucus wi:u euiuiicu at lue Citadel last week has dropped out of the military college. Twenty-nine male cadets have also left, leaving 528 members of the freshmen class, college spokesman Terry Leedom said yesterday. Two men are sentenced : in death of motorist in N.Y. OSWEGO, N.Y. A judge sentenced two men to prison yesterday for tossing a 38-pound cinder block off a highway overpass, kill-, ing a man who was driving on the interstate below. Michael Manzi, 22, was sentenced to eight to 24 years. He was convicted of second-degree manslaughter earlier this month for pushing the block off the overpass. Jesse Monette, 20, pleaded guilty to the same charge and was sentenced to five to 15 years. ' Armenian native becomes , U.S. citizen at 117 .iajo AiNUjriijjiiis maniK bok-- cnaiian nas accumulated a lot or stories since she was born in Armenia, but she added the crowning anecdote as she became a U.S." citizen at 117 years old possibly the oldest person ever to be natu-' ralized. With a spirit defying her age, Bokchalian not only stood to take her oath of allegiance yesterday,' but waved her miniature American flag with gusto and shook the hands of well-wishers like a seasoned politician. The resident of Van Nuys, a Los' Angeles suburb, was one of 4,000 legal residents who became U.S.' citizens in one of two ceremonies yesterday for the Immigration and .t ,... i; t : c : 41 t Angeles Convention Center. From wire reports Corrections In an article about a temporary injunction halting the closing of the St. Paul Street branch of the ' Pratt Library, The Sun incorrectly reported that the judge who made , the decision said he is a member of the Friends of the St. Paul Branch, the group that requested the in-" junction. In fact, Circuit Judge John Carroll Byrnes is a member, of the Friends of the Enoch Pratt Library. Because of an editing error, a ; quotation was misattributed In", yesterday's Today section article -on Trinity, an Irish step-dancing troupe. The quote "I just want people to know that Trinity is not a knee-jerk reaction to 'River- dance' " should have been at- tributed to Mark Howard. I The Sun regrets the errors. loveseat or fJUII Ul GET AN EARLY . Fall shopping t Jt iiiiu 9375 Washington Blvd US(h.l aurelSovoge. MD 20723 301 317 SQOO 4107920777 Hours: Monfri 1 1-9 Sal 104. WOOD MARKET Sun 12-6 SC.,:, "el-fuV

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