Diaries cast light on famine as new book is launched

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A VICTORIAN aristocrat’s diaries have revealed why the potato famine killed millions of Ireland’s poor but left the Highlands relatively unscathed, according to new research.

A study of journals written by Scots landlady Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus, who was born and raised in the city’s New Town, sheds new light on the different fates that befell the two countries, despite both suffering from potato blight. It is the first time that the papers of Elizabeth Grant – best known as author of Memoirs of a Highland Lady – 
have been comprehensively used to piece together an explanation of the famine’s human tragedy.

The journals are one of the key sources for a new book, The Curse of Reason: The Great Irish Famine, by Enda Delaney, a historian at Edinburgh University. The new book will be launched at a free event in Blackwell’s Bookshop on South Bridge at 6pm today.