The Great Irish Famine

Powerful Essays
The Great Irish Famine

The great famine of Ireland began around the year of 1845, when a deadly fungus reached the crops, leaving thousands of acres of land filled with black rot, and diseased crops (Szabo). This disease has become commonly known as the blight. The blight was a “mysterious disease” that “almost universally affected the potatoes on the island” (Kinealy 31). This suspicious “blight” had traveled to Europe from North America, affecting mostly Ireland (Bloy). The blight turned the potatoes black, making them deadly for people to eat. Problems with agriculture came to an all-time high during the famine (Foster 201), and the crop most affected by this blight was the potatoes. The cause of the potato disease was suspected to be due to many factors such as: frost, winds, moon, manure, or thunderstorms; however, the trouble was actually due to an unknown fungus (phytophthora infestans) which caused mould on the potatoes (Kee 78). The Irish had experienced blights before this, but did not cause famine; this was the first case of phytopthora infestans (Poirteir 9). The blight was a major cause of the great famine, however; many other factors attributed to the tragedy that would forever change the great country of Ireland. The geography and history of Ireland had left many of the people dependent for survival on cultivation, specifically reliant on one main crop (Kee 78). This was the potato. When the crop had been introduced to the country, the Irish loved it for numerous reasons. Their land was perfect for growing potatoes; the potatoes flourished in the rich, Irish soil. In addition, they were easy to prepare and cook, very nutritious, and extremely abundant. This caused the potato to be the “staple food” f...

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...s had a more emotional effect on Irish national feeling than the Great Famine of 1845-9” (Kee 77). The Great Irish Potato Famine remains the most tragic event in Irish history; it is truly something that has affected Ireland Forever.

Works Cited

Bloy, Marjie. The Irish Famine, 1845-9. 11 October 2002. 8 October 2003.


Foster, R.F.,ed. The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland. Oxford University Press: Oxford, New York, 1989.

Kee, Robert. Ireland: A History. Little Brown and Company: Boston, Toronto, 1980.

Kinealy, Christine. This Great Calamity: The Irish Famine. Gill and MacMillan: New York, 1995.

Gráda, Cormac. The Great Irish Famine. MacMillan Education LTD: Hong Kong, 1989.

Tuathaigh, Geróid. Ireland Before the Famine: 1798-1848. Gill and MacMillan: Dublin, 1984.
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