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UK viewers express their horror at Irish famine story they didn’t learn in school

British TV viewers took to social media in horror after watching a drama about the true horrors of the Irish famine.

ITV’s drama Victoria saw news of a ‘horrific famine in Ireland’ reach Queen Victoria.

UK viewers express their horror at Irish famine story they didn’t learn in school

While the potato crops had failed there was still food in Ireland. However, the British government were keen to avoid interfering with the market at any cost.

This meant that food was shipped out of Ireland even though people were starving to death. Landowners’ profits were considered more important that the lives the Irish people.

The ITV drama, first shown in 2017,  saw Queen Victoria adamant that her government should be doing more to help.

However, Charles Trevelyan, the man responsible for famine relief, believed that the Irish were being punished by God for being lazy and that famine was a ‘mechanism for removing surplus population’.

Despite pleas from colleagues such Sir Randolph Routh, who said it was a ‘serious evil’ to allow food to go through the ports, Trevelyan stuck to his guns – with the backing of the government.

It is worth remembering that at the time Ireland was still a part of Britain – so the British government was prepared to let a million of its own citizens die of starvation as a price for protecting free trade.

While British school children are made aware that there was a famine in Ireland, they aren’t taught about the decisions their government made during those years. As a result, the content of the show came as a shock to many people.

However, as the drama’s writer Daisy Goodwin tweeted:


As the show aired, viewers took to social media to voice their horror and disgust at the behaviour of the British government.

One viewer tweeted: “I’d imagine the story of the #Irishfamine will be a first for many in the UK, the unspoken genocide #Victoria.”

“Oh what a very sad ending and makes you really think of what those poor Irish people went through. #VICTORIA,” posted another.

“Wonderful performance by @martin_compston in #Victoria on such a heartbreaking and shameful part of our nation’s history,” added a third.

A fourth asked: “Is the Great Irish Famine taught about in the British education system? #Victoria,” as another added: “The English really were that sociopathic in their dealings with the 1840s Irish Famine. Glad that’s being portrayed #Victoria.”

Screenwriter Daisy Goodwin took to Twitter to post about the accuracy of the episode.

She wrote: “Everything #Trevelyan says about Ireland based on historical documents #Victoria.”

One fan posted back: “@DaisyGoodwin well done for highlighting the Irish problem with the potato famine that the government ignored..thank you #Victoria.”

Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling

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