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The Great Potato Famine Essay

1682 words - 7 pages

The Great Potato Famine

The Great Potato Famine was a huge disaster that would change Ireland forever. The people in Ireland were extremely dependent on potatoes and when the blight came the economy went down. When the fungus attacked the potato crops slowly crop by crop throughout Ireland, people began to lose their main source of food. With the people in Ireland’s huge dependency on the potato, people began to starve or get sick from the potatoes. No one had any food to eat. The potatoes were black inside with molds through out it that came from the fungus from something in nature. The weather that brought the blight also was one of the causes because they could not ...view middle of the document...

Soon the government passed the Poor Law Extension Act of 1847, which was approved to refuse any farmer help with over a quarter acre of land. This Act influenced emigration, increased land clearance, and the structure of rural society slowly decreased. Now for the British landowners, they were making a good profit of power over the people of Irelands land. The British wanted more land and this was the way they were benefiting from it (Irish Potato). So many people and farmers could not afford to live in Ireland because the farmers did not have a crop to produce and the people were not working or making money to pay their tenants. The people had no choice but to pack up and go somewhere else.

This massive emigration rate not only permanently changed Ireland's population structure but also helped develop an Irish nationalist feeling against English government. On board the emigrant ships, conditions were sometimes shocking. These ships came to be known as Coffin Ships because of the conditions the emigrants are forced to live in. There was little air in these over crowded below decks, which carried the poorest class. There were extreme cases of fevers, little water, low abundance of food, few cooking and sanitary facilities. By August 1847 half the passengers from 10 ships had died while the others were sick with fevers. On the shores of Quebec eyewitnesses saw hundreds literally flung on the beach, left in the mud, dying like fish out of water. (qtd. in Wright, Olsen, and Larsen)

A lot of the poor people that were sick never made it past England because of their conditions. Come the middle of 1847 there were over one thousand Irish wondering, begging and domination the many streets of Liverpool and other towns north of England. It was not just the poor classes that were migrating (Wright, Olsen, and Larsen).It was anyone that was sick or wanted to get away to live a better or a healthier life. So many people had to pack up their life just to survive from the famine and in the process led just as a bad life.

Also another effect of the Potato Famine was agriculture. During and after the famine over 500,000 people were evicted from their land. When the crops failed the land in Ireland was useless. No one could plant anymore potatoes or any type of food for that matter. Although the farmers tried to do their best to make money but it was not good enough for Britain. “Despite the famine conditions, taxes, rents, and food exports were collected in excess of £6 million and sent to British landlords” (Irish Potato).With all the land and crop destroyed no one could do any farming, and then even worse they were beginning to run out of ways to survive working.

The people that were the laborers would sometimes not received their wage payments on time so that prevented them from getting food, unless they got and extortionate loan, which in that case they were most often weak from either being...

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