Ireland in the beginning of the 1840's had a population of eight million inhabitants of whom more than four-fifths lived on the land and it was one of the most densely populated countries in Europe. The prosperous phase which prevailed in Ireland at the beginning of the 1840's was unfortunately not representative of the entire decade, because in 1845 a great calamity strickened the country, the potato famine. This misfortune had very strong consequences on the country which occurred both during and after this event. All this, leads us to the question: How did the famine show its greater significance? Firstly, we will focus on the arrival of the famine in Ireland. Then, we will place emphasis on the instantaneous consequences of the famine. Last but not least we will deal with the long lasting effects of the famine. First of all, the role of the potato in Ireland must be ascertained. The potato was introduced in Ireland in about 1590 and its advantages were that it "could grow in the poorest conditions, with very little labour" and that "even a small plot of land could support a large family, if you grew potatoes" . The potato was recognised as "a cheap and plentiful source of food" and it was the main element which enabled the Irish population to feed itself. However, even if the potato was seen as the easiest and cheapest foodstuff, "it was a source of concern to some authorities that people had nothing to fall back on at all, if the potato ever happen to fail" . Unfortunately, this worrying was not considered relevant and never taken seriously. Then, European reports began to deal with a new blight in June 1845 which had been noticed in Belgium.
[...] Therefore, as people were used to this kind of events which had never lasted long before, it reinforced the fact that the Great Famine was the worst because people were not expecting that it would last much longer than the previous ones and consequently they were not prepared for it. Concerning the help provided by the government, it must be said that the of Union, passed in 1800, had abolished the independent Irish Parliament in Dublin, and brought Irish administration under the British Parliament”. [...]
[...] (ed.) new history of Ireland: Ireland under the Union', (1801-1870). - Oxford : Clarendon Litton, Helen. - The Irish famine : an illustrated history. p Litton, Helen. - The Irish famine : an illustrated history. p Litton, Helen. - The Irish famine : an illustrated history. p Litton, Helen. - The Irish famine : an illustrated history. p Litton, Helen. - The Irish famine : an illustrated history. p Litton, Helen. - The Irish famine : an illustrated history. p Litton, Helen. [...]
[...] Thus, the landlords were not paid for the people living on their lands and each landlord was responsible for paying the rates of every tenant who paid less than in yearly rent, those whose land was crowded with poor tenants were now facing huge bills” , which consequently forced them to evict their tenants. Even landlords were suffering because of the famine due to their great decrease in income, “they were facing large debts themselves”. Evictions were the most numerous in 1847 but we must take into account that “there were also thousands of ‘voluntary' surrenders” which happened when tenants were in dire straits and had no choice but to beg as the land was unable to give them enough to survive. [...]
[...] - The Irish famine : an illustrated history. p - 96 Beckett, J. C. making of modern Ireland 1603 1923' p.344 Beckett, J. C. making of modern Ireland 1603 1923' p.344 Litton, Helen. - The Irish famine : an illustrated history. p Litton, Helen. - The Irish famine : an illustrated history. p Lee, J. J., Joseph 1942-. modernisation of Irish society 1848-1918' / Joseph Lee. - Dublin : Gill and Macmillan - (The Gill history of Ireland ; 10) p Lee, J. [...]
[...] Another effect occurred concerning marriages, the Irish who were one of the earliest marrying people in Europe became the latest after the famine, the marriage figures demonstrate that “between 1845 and 1914 average male age at marriage rose from about 25 to 33, average female age from about 21 to This great change was representative of the new mentality of the survivor of the famine which was due to the shift “from sub-division of land among all sons to inheritance by only one child”. [...]
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