Dying and surviving
Eye witnesses
in Stacking the coffins
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This chapter uses oral history interview with survivors who recall the disease ninety years later; some, as small children, had been in grave danger of dying, yet they survived into their nineties or hundreds to tell of their experience. Some had acute memories: one said the pain in his throat was something he could never forget, and recalled the Poor Law doctor coming at 3am. For others, the memory was hazy, mediated through a lens of febrile fog. There are also interviews with those who succumbed, telling sad stories of how families coped with changing economic conditions as well as emotional loss. These stories not only tell of individual or familial trauma: they also show how the medical system worked, what treatments were given, living conditions at the time, and most significantly, they add the human voice to impersonal records like death statistics and news reports.

Stacking the coffins

Influenza, war and revolution in Ireland, 1918–19

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