Irish Potato Famine - The Great Hunger - IRISH POTATOES

IRISH POTATOES (Illustration) Geography Social Studies STEM World History Disasters

Jean-François Millet (1814–1875), a French artist, created this oil-on-canvas painting, circa 1861.  Milllet, who believed that potato planting is dignified work, asked this question:  “Why should the work of a potato planter be less interesting or less noble than any other activity?" The painting is now owned by the Museum of Fine Arts (in Boston) via a gift (in 1917) from Quincy Adams Shaw through Quincy Adams Shaw, Jr., and Mrs. Marian Shaw Haughton. Click on the image for a better view.


Potatoes are not endemic to Ireland. Historians generally agree the Lake Titicaca region of South America was the place where the world’s 4th most popular food was first grown.

Archeologists have found evidence that potato crops failed in ancient times just like they fail today. What made the Irish potato blight different? Why was the failure of one crop such a disaster?

To Irish potato-growing land renters, the potato was everything. It was both food and cash. Part of the crop was sold to pay the rent and buy what the family needed. The rest of the crop fed the family. There was very little, if any, crop diversity.

An Irish potato crop failure in 1845 would not merely harm a family’s financial well-being. It would jeopardize that family’s ability to provide for basic physical needs. And if the reason for the failure was a potato blight that affected the whole country, the negative impact could have national proportions.

That’s just what happened to the Irish people between the years of 1845-1849.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jan 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: May 12, 2015

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"IRISH POTATOES" AwesomeStories.com. Jan 01, 2002. May 31, 2020.
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