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The Great Potato Famine Essay

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The Great Potato Famine occurred in Ireland beginning in the mid 1840’s to the late 1840’s and early 1850’s. This outbreak was caused by a fungus called Phytophthora Infestans. At the time of this outbreak occurred the potato was a staple in the diet of one-third of the Irish population. This outbreak caused many Irish citizens to immigrate to places like the United States of America. But among those that were not able to leave Ireland were the farmers and the other Irish citizens that could not afford to emigrate to another country and they also relied on the potato as a source of food. Most of these farmers and other citizens totaling 25% of Ireland’s population at the time died either of starvation or disease.
The potato is a starchy, edible tuber that is of the most important crops in the world. There are over 5,000 different species of potatoes in the world. The potato was introduced to Europe by returning Spanish sailors in the late 1500’s. After the potato was introduced to Europe it became popular with the poorer society to a point that the average adult male would consume around 10-12 pounds of potatoes a day on average. The potato also became a staple of the European diet and a field crop that played an important role in the population boom in Europe during the 19th century. But when the potato was first introduced to Europe there was very little genetic diversity which meant that the potato crop was very vulnerable to disease. This vulnerability eventually led to the Great Potato Famine caused by Phytophthora Infestans. The lack in genetic diversity was mainly caused by the fact that only a few types of potatoes were introduced to Europe. Then in 1845 the blight migrated to Ireland in the cargo holds of ...

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...ngle acre could support a family the size of five to six people. And by 1845 it was estimated that one-third of Ireland’s population was totally dependent on the potato, especially in poorer regions of the country where around nine-tenths of the population relied on the potato as the primary source of food, or the only source of food that was eaten.

So overall in this paper many topics about the Great Potato Famine were discussed. Including the history of the potato, how the blight migrated to Ireland, and the dependency of the potato before the famine. Also land consolidation and agricultural laws in Ireland during the 1800’s, Ireland’s food exports during the famine, and the Irish/English at the time that the famine occurred were discussed in this paper. From all of this information we can conclude that the blight caused high emigration rates and death rates.
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