This letter is a prime example to show us the poverty of many in the Potatoe Famine years. Below is a letter that a John Norris wrote to Lord Fitzwilliam about a homeless woman and her child with fever. This letter was given to me by Kevin Lee of Carnew.
Report by Constable John Norris, Aughrim, Co. WiIklow, describing the circumstances in which he found a fever-stricken woman on the roadway, near Aughrim. (PROI RLF COM Miscellaneous Papers.)
Co. of Wicklow, Aughrim,
June 16, 1846
I have to state that on the 11th. inst, a travelling pauper named Honor Kirwan and her child dropped on the highway near Aughrim, both being ill with fever and lay on the side of the road till the following day when I reported the case to Jeremiah Tool the warden, who had them conveyed to Rathdrum Fever Hospital immediately. But being refused admittance there they were sent back to this place and left on the crossroads at Aughrim the most part of the night and then put in to a shed. On the following day (Monday) I informed Doctor Atkins of the case who gave a certificate stating the poor woman had fever and was a fit object for the Fever Hospital.
The Revd, Mr Malony and two cess payers recommended them to the Fever Hospital also. These recommendations together with the warden’s note was forwarded same day, with the poor woman to Arklow Fever Hospital and (she) was also refused admittance there stating they should ‘have been sent to Rathdrum’ and had them conveyed to Aughrim and left on the crossroads for a night to the great danger of the people in the neighbourhood.
On Tuesday myself and two of this party with some other of the neighbours procured timber and erected a shed and put the two sick persons in to it and went through the neighbours and got a few pence to get nourishment for them and also procured a nurse tender to take care of them. It is a very hard case that here is no place to remove poor persons of this description when they fall on the public roads and although I am well aware it is no part of my duty to interfere in such cases. Still every person calls on me to keep the public passways clear of such nuisances. There is 8 or 9 families at present ill with fever in this neighbourhood, some of them in sheds and no place to receive them, I hope you will see if there is any remedy to this state of things.
John Norris, Constable.