Inspired by his heritage and his work with the descendants of British Home Children in Canada, Northfield councillor Reg Corns has released a historical novel, The Famine and the Fear.

Councillor Corns’ mother was remarried to an Irish man following the death of his father, so his teenage years were influenced by the Irish community. He has five step sisters of dual Irish and English heritage.  He has also been working with the descendants of children deported to Canada  as part of the then government’s Child Migration Programme. Around 130,000 children from children’s homes from Britain were sent to former colonies between the 1920s and 1960s and many suffered abuse.

The Famine and the Fear is the story of the hardships faced by two Irish peasant farming families during and after the 19th century Great Irish Potato Famine. It is a story of struggle, separation and reconciliation.

Reg describes how his visits to Canada inspired him to look in to the history of the Irish Potato Famine: “I came across a reference to “Coffin ships”, something I had never heard of. It spoke of thousands of Irish families being succumbed to Typhus whilst being shipped to Canada to escape The Great Famine and were buried in mass graves on an island called Grosse Ile 30 miles from Quebec on the St Lawrence river.”

Reg has researched his book for five years and visited the Irish Memorial National Historic Site at Grosse Ile two years ago. The island was a quarantine centre for immigrants between 1832 and 1937 and was witness to much suffering. He said: “Given what happened there and my knowledge of the Great Irish Famine I felt there was a story to tell and this book is that.”

You can read more and buy a paperback copy of The Famine and the Fear on amazon.co.uk or through Authors Online which also sells an e-book version.

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