Scarcity Commission, a cento

By Anne Casey

The potato crop has nearly disappeared;

much distress at present exists

amongst the labouring classes⎯


tradesmen and others

are severely suffering

from want of food;


potatoes are fast disappearing,

being used as food

by the higher classes⎯


potatoes remaining not sufficient

for population one month;

the sufferings of the poor


are becoming more pressing each day.

The distress in the district

is beyond measure,


beyond measure

and is hourly increasing:

families in great want,


people expressing a determination

not to starve whilst food can be procured,

no prospect before them


but absolute starvation⎯

fully half the potato crop utterly unfit

for human food:



destitution, wretchedness

and distress.


Disease is becoming prevalent

from the use of unsound potatoes⎯

many persons eating decayed potatoes


that have been thrown out

on the dunghill for months:

distress and fever


very much on the increase.

Typhus fever rages in the district:

disease extensive and increasing,


vast numbers destitute;

the misery of the people

increases daily.


Before winter, the dreadful condition

of four-fifths of the population⎯

20,000 persons in the district


verging on absolute destitution:

poor-house no longer

affords refuge,


fever hospital

quite inadequate

to the amount of sickness—


people suffering much

from fever

and bowel complaints


owing to the use

of unsound potatoes,

pray Government


to do something.



Note: This cento is derived from ‘Accounts and Papers of The House of Commons: Twenty-Eight Volumes — Scarcity in Ireland, Session 22 January – 28 August 1846. VOL. XXXVII’.