In the period of 1841 to 1850 the Irish population enormously dwindled from 8,5 million to about 6 million.This condition occured due to the starvation and emigration of the inhabitants during the Great Famine from 1846 to 1852.
The Irish owned only little amounts of land, so they rent them from absent landlords in England. Therefore the tenants had to pay a return service in form of crop back. In order to make gain, the Irish planted potatoes. Because of planting potatoes, the people had a much bigger harvest than planting any other kind of crop in former times.Tranferred from North America to Europe by trading in the 1850s, the fungus Phytophthora infestans also reached Ireland. This fungus, also called “The Potato Blight” made the harvest of the Irish not only uneatable but also worthless. A mass starvation took place during 1846 to 1852. Concerning that natural disaster 1 million Irish died and about 2 million people emigrated. In proportion to the population of 8,5 million, the numbers were positively remarkable.
Reasons | Development | Effects
Reasons | Development | Effects
In addition this misery was worsened by the British. After 1847 the crop amount in Ireland was owing to increased import theoretical sufficient for the population
if the mass had been distributed fairly. This was not the case so the natural disaster changed into an artificial one. Apart from that other factors sustained that alteration as well : such as the English Policy’s inaction, the providientalism and the moralsim.
The inaction refers to the political attitude towards the economy which was the “laissez-faire”. It consisted of the not interfering in the economic affairs. The so called soup-kitchen which fed about 3 million Irish for half a year in 1847, was according to that and to a domestic problem abolished. The farmers and task workers were only low payed whereas the food-prices rose continuously due to the increased demand. Another effect of this policy were the restrictions for the poor-law, so that nearly nobody got any aid. Furthermore, the landlords evicted the pauperized farmers and labourers, so in 1846 to 1854 about half a million people were homeless. Moreover, not every Irish could afford emigrating and that explained why many were stuck in Ireland with no home although plenty of them existed. All these points caused the decline of the standard of living, so it led to mal- and undernutrition, unhygiene, diseases and more negative aspects.
Supporting that inaction was the providientalism which states that that chaos was a divine Providence and that was why nobody had the right to change anything of the happenings which Ireland deserved according to that theory.
Eventually the attitude that the Irish nation conveyed got England to do nothing improvable. It was described as disorder, violence, filth, laziness and as a lack of self-reliance. Therefore the labourers’ wages were low and they were told to do task work with the intention to deposit some of the “bad character traits”.
‘the deep and inveterate root of social evil’
As a result, a mass starvation and emigration of the population took place. In a decade about one third of the Irish died or emigrated. Ireland’s population was weakened physically and psychically for a long time.That catastrophe was a doctrine most of all to England. It is a painful memory to everybody while seeing, that it could have been prevented partly.
Own Opion Towards The Task
I did not specify on one issue because I think that the general information about the Great Famine was more important than details.I reckon that it helps you to acquire knowledge about Ireland’s history and culture. Apart from that, it will be very helpful in understanding the attitude of the Irish and in seeing something from their perspectives.