Commanding views, The Year of the Slaughter & Ireland’s forgotten famine

Killiney Obelisk was built in 1742 to commemorate a sad event in Irish history which was described as ‘the Year of the Slaughter’. Two years earlier between 1740 and 1741, an incredibly cold winter was followed by a severely wet summer that wiped out the crops and killed off livestock. This again was followed by months of minus temperatures during the next winter. Reports suggest that between 250,000 and 480,000 people died during this forgotten famine. It was so cold that small vessels were destroyed by icebergs on the River Liffey, street lamps could not be lit plunging towns and villages into darkness and food riots were common throughout the land. Many of the oldest trees were also felled for fuel and sickness was common all over. A small number of rich landlords like John Malpas of Killiney Hill and Kathryn Connolly of Castletown House commissioned famine relief projects like this one to provide employment to destitute families. Ironically this monument is now located in the wealthiest part of Ireland.