About The Project

The Great Irish Famine was a watershed moment in Irish history. It was the last major non-wartime famine to occur in a Western economy, and its’ impact still resonates across the globe today.

This project, titled “The Causes and Consequences of the Great Irish Famine”, examines both the contributing factors and outcomes of the famine. This is an empirical project and is thus reliant on data and econometric methods to answer a number questions related to the famine.

These questions include:


  1. To what extent was Pre-Famine Ireland’s poverty driven by overpopulation?

  2. What key factors explain the loss of population between the 1841 and 1851 censuses?

  3. Do these aforementioned factors differ between mortality compared to migration?

  4. In what way does temporal variation in demographic events recorded in parish registers differ over the 18th and 19th centuries?

  5. Can we measure the economic, social, and demographic impact of the mass migration of the Irish to Britain?

The answers one can obtain from empirical data depends very much on the quality of these data. Thus, this project has digitised, compiled, and analysed a wide number of contemporary data sources, such as the 1841 and 1851 census and the reports of the Relief Commissioner’s reports.

This website serves as an interactive repository for some of the data used in the project. The site’s centrepiece is a fully interactive map incorporating data from both the 1841 and 1851 censuses. These map data are highly disaggregated, displayed at the civil parish level and users can search for, browse, or use to their location settings to select their parish of interest.

This website will also provide updates and news about the project and serve as a repository for data files that would be of interest to academics also studying the Great Irish Famine.

Funding from ESRC grant ES/N017323/1 is gratefully acknowledged

Project Collaboration

Alan Fernihough, Principal Investigator

Alan is a lecturer in Economics at Queen’s University Belfast. His research interests include economic history, historical demography, and applied econometrics. His research has been published in academic journals such as: The Journal of Economic Growth, Explorations in Economic History, Demography, The Journal of Population Economics, and Economics and Human Biology.

Áine Doran, Research Assistant

Áine joined the “The Causes and Consequences of the Great Irish Famine” project in July 2017. Previously Áine was completing her MSc in Economics at Queen’s University Belfast.

Contact Us

Please email Dr. Alan Fernihough at: a.fernihough@qub.ac.uk if you have any queries about the project or would like to provide any feedback or additional information. Thank you.