Irish Potato Famine - The Great Hunger - Summary

In 1845, people in Ireland no longer owned most of their land. The Irish countryside, with its green pastures and wonderful farmland, had been turned into English plantations.

Land-owning Irishmen, who worked for themselves, had become English tenants. “Penal Laws,” which governed the conduct of Irish Catholics, restricted a man’s ability to manage his family’s affairs.

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

A plant disease, called “Late Potato Blight,” ruins potato crops every year and severely impacted the Irish potato crop in 1845. Only potatoes were adversely affected, but famine became widespread.

News of the crop failure was first reported on September 9, 1845. No one could have predicted that report was just the first episode in a years-long tale of national misery.

Unable to pay rent, thousands of families were evicted from their dwellings. Poor houses were filled beyond capacity. Mansions of the wealthy were flooded with needy, starving, homeless families.

Some of the evicted, with no place to go and little to eat, tried to shelter their families by living in holes dug in the Irish bog. Others constructed scalpeen inside abandoned, roofless houses. Millions of people died or fled the country.

In this story about the disaster, virtually visit Ireland during the time of the famine. Observe contemporary news accounts, and drawings, describing imperiled people. Learn about the potato blight and how it adversely impacts crops. Follow the exodus of Irish people seeking a better life in a different country.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jan 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Nov 09, 2016

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"Irish Potato Famine - The Great Hunger" AwesomeStories.com. Jan 01, 2002. Jan 18, 2020.
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