Irish In America Essay

2535 words - 10 pages

From 1845 to 1920 the Irish culture experienced a wave of hardships with a magnitude almost indescribable. Few nations can compare with the relentless misery in which the native Irish dwelled in for nearly a century. The Irish culture boasts thousands of years of magnificent and prosperous times for which we may look upon in admiration, but in this small length of time, Ireland's appearance and identity would be scarred forever. There are many reasons why Ireland was hit so hard and fast by misery and distress, but historians agree that it began primarily on one initial disaster, the Great Famine. Before the Great Famine, many Irish were already being squeezed by rising rents and a sluggish job market. The English had looked upon Ireland for hundreds of years, as a nation with little importance and no International influence. Under England's powerful grip, the Irish people were forced to bend with every tyrannical law that came from the monopolistic government. On top of being tossed around by English law, Ireland had it's own internal dilemmas. The Irish natives were split religiously. The Catholics and Protestants had been having civil disputes, often violent, for many years, and a peaceful solution was nowhere in sight. In fact, the religious wars of Ireland still plague the nation today. Through tyrannical suppression, a famine of unspeakable destruction, and religious wars, the Irish fought to merely survive in a world where hardships shadowed one's life from birth. Ireland was quickly dying as a nation and the majority of it's people believed that relief waited somewhere else; America. America is an immigrant country. In size, in scale, in the diversity of its peoples, no other land can challenge it as the ultimate melting pot. But of all these immigrations, none has been longer, more sustained, or more studied, than that of a people from an island, hardly larger than the state of South Carolina: Ireland.In 1845, before Irish History was changed forever, 3 million Ireland's 8 million people depended on the potato for their daily existence. They ate potatoes with every meal, and for some it was all they ate. In the poorest regions of the country, in the west and southwest, there was no other food because everything else was used to pay the rent. Ireland was a country of poor peasants, and farm laborers who worked fields they did not own and raised crops they could not eat. In the middle of every summer, severe hunger struck the farmers families. This was the time when the previous harvest's supply of potatoes ran out and the new harvest was not quite ready to be eaten. After a wet summer in 1845, the newspapers reported that a disease had laid waste to potato beds literally overnight. "In one instance the {farmer} had been digging potatoes-the finest he had ever seen-from a particular field"¦up to Monday last; and on digging in the same ridge on Tuesday he found the tubers blasted, and unfit for the use of man or beast."...

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