From the Freeman’s Journal, 23/12/1846.
I proceeded yesterday, kindly accompanied by the Rev. Mr. Freeman to the united parishes of Durrus and Kilcrohane, more generally known as Four–Mile-Water a small village situate a short distance from Dunmanus Bay. In the parish the amount of Government work provided is sufficient for the employment of little more than one thousand labourers – leaving fifteen hundred able bodied men, the ostensible supporters of families completely powerless for this purpose. On making enquiries of the kind hearted and benevolent clergyman (the parish priest was Fr. Quinn, Church of Ire, William Moore Crosthwaite 1842-1854) as to the state of the labouring population, his reply was precisely ‘My dear Sir, no description, that I could give would for a moment adequately tell the misery, the wretchedness’ of my poor people – they are in a most frightful state of destitution that can possible be imagined. They are living almost entirely on a description of seaweed, called Milvawn (Meadhbhán, dilisk edible seaweed), for they have long ago eaten up whatever cabbage and turnip were in the country.
In this parish a labouring man named Driscoll was found dead upon Glenlough mountain, on Wednesday, a short time after leaving the government road, where he had been employed. Dr. Jagoe of Bantry, held a post mortem examination on the body from which it appeared that deceased had not eaten anything, with the exception of a small quantity of boiled wheat, for some days previously. It was the medical man’s opinion that death must have been occasioned by abstinence from food, combined with cold and fatigue.
Another labourer, Nicholas Brien, who was employed on the Sheepshead road, on coming back home on Wednesday evening, dropped on the way from exhaustion and want of sufficient nourishment.
Timothy Coughlan, a distressed member of the same class, received similar employment for himself and support for his family on the Sheepshead road; he was also returning towards his wretched home and starving family, but he never lived to see them. He was found dead on Thursday morning last in a field, about two miles distance from this parish, and conveyed to the locality where he was employed.
These are a few, amongst the authentic records of deaths from starvation, in the immediate centre of this parish, which I became acquainted with; but these are not remarkable instances of the poverty and misery that constitute the lot of the inhabitants of the more remote districts.