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Historical Fiction
(Fic)
Called to Account (formerly The Poor Law Inspector)
by Frank Parker

From the author of Strongbow's Wife and A Purgatory of Misery comes another searing account of a terrible period in Irish history. When a government official exposes the unpalatable truth about the famine in mid-nineteenth century West Clare he is called to account by the men he accuses. Abandoned by his masters, he has only his strength of character and the love of his wife and daughter to sustain him as he fights famine and disease in a land teeming with destitute men, women and children.

Chapter 1
Introduction

I like to imagine Arthur Kennedy and Crofton Vandeleur each about to embark on his journey to Cork for the assizes at which the charge of slander was to be heard. Each looks in a mirror – shaving, perhaps, or combing a beard; adjusting the tilt of a hat or the...





Chapter 2
First Intimations

The court room was crowded, the viewing gallery at the back a jostling mass of humanity. I had been surprised by the size of the multitude outside the court upon my arrival. Surprised, and my heart gladdened, by the considerable number that wished me good luck as I ...





Chapter 3
A Change of Direction

All this activity, though often unpleasant, came as a relief to some of our men. Not a few could have been heard complaining about the daily routine of army life in peacetime. Everything from the drills to the monotony of the diet formed the principal discourse amon...





Chapter 4
Distressed Districts

Having ended his diatribe outlining the case against me, Counsel began questioning me. I was reminded of the constant questioning to which I was subjected by Mr Scrope. Having presented my evidence to his inquiry, I was repeatedly asked to return in order to clarify...





Chapter 5
Kilrush

I was soon to discover the veracity of that last remark of Twisleton's. There would, I was also to discover, need to be some better arrangement for passengers or cargo to travel East from Kilrush were such a port to be established there. From the proprietor of the h...





Chapter 6
The Workhouse

The following morning I was woken early, as arranged. The meeting of the Guardians was set for ten o'clock. I had it very much in mind to carry out an inspection of the workhouse before hand so as to fully acquaint myself with its condition and that of its inmates. ...





Chapter 7
A New Home

My counsel begins cross-examining Crofton, asking when he first began evicting tenants from his land. Crofton turns to the judge. In fairness I do not blame him for questioning the relevance of the question. My own researches, on which I based my evidence to Mr Scro...





Chapter 8
Reunited

My heart was lifted by news that reached me one evening as I was about to leave the little room at the workhouse in which I had established a base from which to operate. Young Lillis accosted me, proffering an envelope the hand writing upon which I instantly recogni...





Chapter 9
Threats

Although the events of that day were not repeated, there was no reduction in the number of people seeking assistance. Where we deemed it appropriate, in the case of the old and the very young, persons who were quite evidently incapable of work, we provided food. We ...





Chapter 10
Talk of Revolution

I may have given the impression that I have little regard for those who engage in the legal profession. I make no secret of the fact that I have an equal contempt for men whose business it is to promulgate a distorted version of the truth through the medium of what ...





Chapter 11
Outside Help and a Journey

As I have previously observed when describing Georgina's correspondence in search of funding for her enterprise, the district was not wholly dependent upon the funds available from government. News of the suffering of Irish families had reached London, and further a...





Chapter 12
An Exciting Encounter

For our journey south we chose to travel through Leinster. I had some thought that we might call on an uncle of mine who farmed a holding near the town of Athy. From there we could travel west through Tipperary to Limerick where we would take the steamer to Kilrush....





Chapter 13
A Thief to Catch a Thief

Through the autumn of 1848, as the condition of the populace deteriorated and the daily count of deaths in the fever hospitals and the workhouse increased, I deliberated about the wisdom of enlisting the help of a local land agent in the task of drawing up maps show...





Chapter 14
Anniversary Blues

As autumn progressed into winter the conditions in Ireland, and the need for relief, were discussed with increasing passion in Parliament and in the British news sheets. A consensus seemed to be growing that the tax payers of England had poured money into Ireland an...





Chapter 15
A Politician' s Mission

Give a man an acre who will use that acre to produce food sufficient for his family with a little over to sell so that in time he has the means to increase the amount of land he works. That is my recipe for prosperity. Give a man an acre and he shares it with the families of cousins, a...





Chapter 16
Called to Account

Kennedy and Scrope and all the rest; the scribblers who come gawking at the beggars and write long, hand wringing pieces illustrated with sketches of scrawny children and their half naked mothers to titillate the imaginations of London gentry, they can harp on all they like about what ...





Chapter 17
Afterword

The jury failed to reach a verdict on the question of whether Arthur Kennedy was guilty of libelling Crofton Vandeleur. After a brief period as Poor Law Inspector at Kilkenny, Kennedy left the Poor Law Commission and entered the diplomatic service. He served as the ...






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