The Great Potato Famine

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The Great Potato Famine

The Great Potato Famine is characterized as one of the leading disasters in Ireland’s history. It began in the summer of 1845 with the appearance of an unusual disease growing on potato crops throughout various parts of Europe. With the spread of this disease, it soon targeted Ireland consuming the major crop of potatoes. The famine began by this mysterious disease that hit many parts of Europe during 1845. This disease known as the blight was caused by a fungus known ‘phytophthora infestans’. Prior to the blight, two main diseases known as ‘curl’ and ‘dry rot’ attacked Ireland but were not as destructive (Kinealy 33). The blight was known to be originated from South America through cargo ships that were transporting goods to Europe. The fungus was carried over through the potato leaves which soon would spread to the actual potato leaving the potato black and rotting with a rancid smell arising from it (Kinealy 30). The fungus would commonly feed on healthy potatoes and quickly decompose of it. With the hit of the blight and many others causes Ireland as a country was threatened. This was the first time that Ireland was hit this hard with “Western Europe’s worst modern peacetime catastrophe,” people were dying from diseases and starvation, and others try to find safety in Britain and the United States (Newsinger, 1).

The dependency of the potato was related to the population during the time of the blight. With the major population the potato was the main crop. The country’s population rapidly growing, it had reached about five million citizens at the time of the Union to well over the eight million mark in 1841 (O’Brien 103). With the population growing, the conditions of Irela...

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...’s position in the situation. Even before The Great Potato Famine, a cycle was beginning within the economy and government itself which in the end caused the Famine. Due to the major population, dependency, economy, and government of Ireland, such a tragedy occurred which led to the starvation, depopulation, and immigration from Ireland.

Works Cited

Kinealy, Chrisitne. This Great Calamity. Roberts Rhinehart Publishers; Colorado, 1995.

Kinealy, Christine. “How Polotics fed the Famine.” Natural History Jan 1996: 105.

Newsinger, John. “The great Irish Famine: A crime of free market economics.” Monthly Review: An independent Socialist Magazine April 1996: 47.

O’Brien, Conor and Cruise. A Concise History of Ireland. Thames and Hudson; New York, 1985.

Ranelagh, John O’Beirne. A Short History of Ireland. Cambridge University Press; Cambridge, London, 1983.

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