The complete failure of the Potato crop brought hardship throughout the
land. Throughout Ireland thousands where to die, many in Castle Dawson and the surrounding district.
No doubt the
death toll would have been much higher in the Castledawson area were it not for the compassion of the Rt Hon. George Robert
Dawson. At the time George Dawson occupied the castle and as a result of his caring and zealous intervention, saved the lives
of many of our ancestors, by (among other things) opening a soup kitchen at his home, something the villagers were never to
At the time the population of Castledawson was around 600, however, thousands
were queueing daily for food, but George Dawson did not shrink his responsibilities, and although there is no mention of where
most of the starving came from, no doubt many were from Drumlamph.
During the years spanning the 'Potato Famine' the
population of Drumlamph dropped by almost a quarter.
The 1841 census recorded an Irish population of 8.2 million and by 1851
this figure had been reduced to 6.5 million. Though by no means definitive, these statistics give an indication of the scale
of the disaster. As many as 1 million people died from starvation and its attendant diseases, with the balance seeking emigration
to Britain and North America.