History Main / IrishPotatoFamine

9th Sep '13 7:29:44 AM LondonKdS
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Irish people, so media would have you believe, love their potatoes. This ''does'' have a basis in truth, but the reasoning is less a cultural preference and more a matter of necessity.

A potato and a glass of milk, combined, give all the nutrients you need to get through a day. As many Irish in the 1800s were poor [[note]]half of the eight million people in Ireland in 1845 were tenant farmers[[/note]], and any grain they grew needed to be sold to pay the rent on their land, potatoes amounted to the only food available to a great many Irish people. A one-acre plot of potatoes could feed a family of four.

So when the potato crops failed, life took a dramatic downturn.

In 1845, blight tore through the Irish potato fields, killing the roots in the ground. At the time, it had no apparent cause; nowadays it's known to have come from the fungus ''Phytophthora infestans'' (also known as blight), which is believed to have come from tainted American crops (American potato crops had suffered from blight for two years prior). Other countries also suffered blight (Belgium lost nearly its entire harvest), but none of them relied on potatoes nearly so much as Ireland.

After a year of starvation, farmers's hopes for relief in 1846 fell apart as blight once again struck the crops. It's estimated that between a third to half of the crop was lost. The crop failed again in 1847, and due to lack of seed potatoes in 1848, very little potatoes were even grown that year. The effect was disastrous.

Response from England was slow in coming and not exactly helpful. Rather than provide food relief or other material aid, the British government set up public-works projects, offering starving farmers a way to make money for other food. Unfortunately, the projects paid a ridiculously small amount - due to bad harvests throughout Europe, food prices were higher than usual - meaning that this "help" was about as useful as a wet bandage. [[TheIrishQuestion This remains a sticking point to this day.]]

By the time harvests finally recovered in 1849, Ireland had lost three million people. 1 1/2 million had died of hunger, disease, or exposure (the winter of 1846 was particularly harsh), while another million and a half had fled the country; the potato famine was in large part responsible for the massive Irish immigration to the United States.

Ironically, grain exportation continued throughout the famine - even though they were starving, the poor Irish farmers still needed the money to pay the rent. (Thousands were still evicted.)

to:

Irish people, so media would have you believe, love their potatoes. This ''does'' have a basis in truth, but the reasoning is less a cultural preference and more a matter of necessity.

A potato and a glass of milk, combined, give all the nutrients you need to get through a day. As many Irish in the 1800s were poor [[note]]half of the eight million people in Ireland in 1845 were tenant farmers[[/note]], and any grain they grew needed to be sold to pay the rent on their land, potatoes amounted to the only food available to a great many Irish people. A one-acre plot of potatoes could feed a family of four.

So when the potato crops failed, life took a dramatic downturn.

In 1845, blight tore through the Irish potato fields, killing the roots in the ground. At the time, it had no apparent cause; nowadays it's known to have come from the fungus ''Phytophthora infestans'' (also known as blight), which is believed to have come from tainted American crops (American potato crops had suffered from blight for two years prior). Other countries also suffered blight (Belgium lost nearly its entire harvest), but none of them relied on potatoes nearly so much as Ireland.

After a year of starvation, farmers's hopes for relief in 1846 fell apart as blight once again struck the crops. It's estimated that between a third to half of the crop was lost. The crop failed again in 1847, and due to lack of seed potatoes in 1848, very little potatoes were even grown that year. The effect was disastrous.

Response from England was slow in coming and not exactly helpful. Rather than provide food relief or other material aid, the British government set up public-works projects, offering starving farmers a way to make money for other food. Unfortunately, the projects paid a ridiculously small amount - due to bad harvests throughout Europe, food prices were higher than usual - meaning that this "help" was about as useful as a wet bandage. [[TheIrishQuestion This remains a sticking point to this day.]]

By the time harvests finally recovered in 1849, Ireland had lost three million people. 1 1/2 million had died of hunger, disease, or exposure (the winter of 1846 was particularly harsh), while another million and a half had fled the country; the potato famine was in large part responsible for the massive Irish immigration to the United States.

Ironically, grain exportation continued throughout the famine - even though they were starving, the poor Irish farmers still needed the money to pay the rent. (Thousands were still evicted.)
[[redirect:UsefulNotes/IrishPotatoFamine]]
3rd Aug '13 4:04:08 AM ManCalledTrue
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By the time harvests finally recovered in 1849, Ireland had lost three million people. 1 1/2 million had died of hunger, disease, or exposure (the winter of 1846 was particularly harsh), while another million and a half had fled the country; the potato famine was in large part responsible for the massive Irish immigration to the United States.

Ironically, grain exportation continued throughout the famine - even though they were starving, the poor Irish farmers still needed the money to pay the rent. (Thousands were still evicted.)
3rd Aug '13 4:00:40 AM ManCalledTrue
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Added DiffLines:

Irish people, so media would have you believe, love their potatoes. This ''does'' have a basis in truth, but the reasoning is less a cultural preference and more a matter of necessity.

A potato and a glass of milk, combined, give all the nutrients you need to get through a day. As many Irish in the 1800s were poor [[note]]half of the eight million people in Ireland in 1845 were tenant farmers[[/note]], and any grain they grew needed to be sold to pay the rent on their land, potatoes amounted to the only food available to a great many Irish people. A one-acre plot of potatoes could feed a family of four.

So when the potato crops failed, life took a dramatic downturn.

In 1845, blight tore through the Irish potato fields, killing the roots in the ground. At the time, it had no apparent cause; nowadays it's known to have come from the fungus ''Phytophthora infestans'' (also known as blight), which is believed to have come from tainted American crops (American potato crops had suffered from blight for two years prior). Other countries also suffered blight (Belgium lost nearly its entire harvest), but none of them relied on potatoes nearly so much as Ireland.

After a year of starvation, farmers's hopes for relief in 1846 fell apart as blight once again struck the crops. It's estimated that between a third to half of the crop was lost. The crop failed again in 1847, and due to lack of seed potatoes in 1848, very little potatoes were even grown that year. The effect was disastrous.

Response from England was slow in coming and not exactly helpful. Rather than provide food relief or other material aid, the British government set up public-works projects, offering starving farmers a way to make money for other food. Unfortunately, the projects paid a ridiculously small amount - due to bad harvests throughout Europe, food prices were higher than usual - meaning that this "help" was about as useful as a wet bandage. [[TheIrishQuestion This remains a sticking point to this day.]]
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