This poem was inspired by a newspaper report entitled ‘Conditions of Ireland. Illustrations of the new “Poor Law”’ published in The Illustrated London News during the Great Irish Famine on 22 December 1849.

It is based on my research into the children of Irish famine refugees in Australia. The famine resulted in a halving of the native Irish population from eight million to four million people. The impacts of the famine for my people were greatly exacerbated by British colonisation and their policies in Ireland at the time. The British government failed to intervene and prevent Anglo landlords from exporting vital food supplies out of Ireland while millions starved.

The poem is entitled ‘Ocras’ which means hunger in the Irish language, Gaeilge, which was prohibited by law during British colonisation. I use my native language as a form of political resistance, to decolonise our history and to restore lost voices – including the voice of my maternal grandfather who was beaten as a child, during British rule in Ireland, for speaking in our native tongue.