Spread of the Black Death in Ireland 1348–50

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Map Code: Ax01683

On Europe’s periphery, Ireland was a late recipient of the Black Death. It arrived first in the port of Drogheda in August 1348, but spread rapidly: soon, a 100 a day were dying in Dublin. It also entered the country through the southern ports of Waterford, Cork, New Ross and Wexford, and was most devastating in urban areas; the dispersed farmsteads of the rural Irish native population may have provided a measure of protection against contagion. Friar John Clyn, writing in Kilkenny, wrote ‘many died of boils, abscesses and pustules. Others died in frenzy, brought on by an affliction of the head, or vomiting blood’. His record was made ’waiting among the dead for death to come’. And it did; the entire population of Kilkenny appears to have been exterminated, including Friar John. By 1350, the plague had run its course, but its depredations left Norman hegemony vitiated and vulnerable.

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