The Great Famine of 1845 lasted for many years in Ireland. During this time, many people of Ireland suffered in numerous ways. In such devastating and dark times “deaths began to mount and tragic horrific scenes ensured all over Ireland: Mass Graves, Corpses gnawed by rats, hunger marches, and roadside deaths” (Kelley 137). In these grey times for Ireland, the country battled many hardships to overcome this era. The Great Famine was historically dated from 1845-1851, although the effects of the Famine lasted until 1852 (Kelley 136). The major cause of the Famine was a disease called the blight, but there were many other aspects that caused the catastrophe in Ireland.
The blight caused a catastrophic effect on the Irish peasantry. The blight is a combination of parasitic fungus and bird droppings imported as fertilizer (Kelley 136). Furthermore, the farmers did not know what a problem this fertilizer would cause, which ended up ruining all of the Irish crops. The parasitic fungus, also known as phytophthora, is a destructive spreading fungus causing a brownish rot in plants. In addition, the blight first infected Irish potato crops in September of 1845 (Kelley 136). The blight caused the potato to rot in the ground, making it inedible (Kinealy, The Great Irish Famine 34). In addition, spreading the fertilizer all over the land not only ruined the crop, but the crop field as well. Consequently, the crop fields were in no condition to produce new crops for many years because the land was ruined. There were “recurrent infestations of the blight, which led to the failure of the potato crop in three seasons out of four” (Kelley 136). The blight traveled to Ireland from North America and Cont...
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Kelley, Tom. “The Great Famine and its Legacy of Poverty, Emigration, and Death.” TheEncyclopedia of Ireland. Ed. Ciaran Brady. New York: Oxford Press, 2000.
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Kinealy, Christine. “’The Famine Killed Everything’: Living with the Memory of the Great Hunger.” Ireland’s Great Hunger. Eds. David A. Valone and Christine Kinealy. NewYork: University Press of America, 2002. 1-40.
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