The Great Potato Famine: A Crisis in Ireland’s History

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Ireland’s Potato Famine of 1845 and 1852, usually referred to as the “Great Famine” was the period in Ireland’s history in which Irish residents experienced mass starvation. We will now take a close look at what transpired during this terrible period in the history of Ireland.
Great Hunger

The Irish Famine, 1845-1849, (1900) Photograph: Print Collector/Getty

Ireland is a nation blessed with rich and abundant farmland. But during this period of time, it was the landowners who possessed the sole rights to profit from the crop harvests and livestock such as oil, grain, pork, cattle, etc. The Irish peasants made their living from the potato crops planted in small farmlands that had poor soil.

The year 1845 saw the highest potato harvest in the history of the country. Sadly, a disease known as “blight” that affects the potato crop originated from North America and within a week had devastated more than 40 percent of the potatoes in the farmland and the following year, destroyed 100 percent of it.

By the end of autumn that year, after every available fruit/crop and all the wild berries including strawberries, blackberries and raspberries had been devoured and after every livestock including all the pigs, sheep, chickens and even the dogs and cat had been consumed, the Great Famine began. More than one million persons died due to the famine and many others migrated to the U.S, Australia or Canada.

The Great famine persisted for three years. The total population of the nation declined by 25 percent. The cultural, political and demographic structure of the island was altered. Irish language usage in the country lessened, and a good number of the island’s inhabitants began speaking English. The island became divided into two, with the unionists on one side clamoring to remain as part of Britain and the nationalists insisting on remaining independent.

This all happened as a result of the blight named Phytophthora that infected the potato plant.

The Great Hunger, referred to as Gorta Mór in the Irish language is a very good instance of what could happen to us in the future. Reflect on the possibility of living a year in a world in which wheat doesn’t grow or in which the crops all died. This scenario is one that would prove even more fatal than those that have occurred in the past, and it might result in the death of tens of millions of persons. The entirety of our system is founded on the perpetuation of our planet’s present resources. Still, we keep on reproducing and devouring our resources without taking note of the consequences.