When Did the Coffin Ships Leave Ireland? with Cian T. McMahon, PhD

Cian T. McMahon, PhD returns for the fifth lecture in our Great Hunger series commemorating 175 years since Black ‘47.

Cian T. McMahon holds a joint appointment in the Department of History and Honors College at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He received his PhD from Carnegie Mellon University (2010), his MA from University College Dublin (2002), and his BA from the University of Manitoba (2000). McMahon is the author of two books and over half a dozen scholarly articles on Irish and American immigration history, including The Coffin Ship: Life and Death at Sea during the Great Irish Famine (NYU Press, 2021).

The Coffin Ship analyzes Irish emigrants’ own letters and diaries to unpack the dynamic social networks that they built while voyaging overseas and their lived experiences during the Famine. But when exactly did these ships leave the Emerald Isle? And when did they become known as ‘coffin ships’? Dr. McMahon will discuss why the term didn’t come into popularity until decades after the Famine and what impact that had on the collective memory of the Great Hunger.