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The Great Potato Famine In Ireland

1354 words - 6 pages

The Great Potato Famine was a horrendous event that would change Ireland forever. A fungus had attacked the potato crops throughout Ireland. The natives were extremely dependent on potatoes and when the blight came, it caused the economy to plummet. With the mass dependency on the potato, people began to harbor serious illnesses. Food was extremely scarce, which was a major issue for the population as a whole. Ireland was under the rule of the British government at the time; which did not help in any way when they needed them so desperately. By depending primarily on the staple of potatoes, the Irish went in to great sufferings when they became diseased; in turn, the way of life in Ireland was significantly altered.
The Famine arose rather peculiarly in September of 1845 as leaves on the potato plants unexpectedly turned a sickly black and rotted; appearing that it was the result of a fog that had engulfed Ireland’s luscious fields. The cause was, in fact, an airborne fungus, which initially was carried in ship holds venturing from North America to England. Winds from southern England carried the fungus to the rural areas about Dublin. The blight spread throughout the grounds as fungal spores nestled in the leaves of healthy potato plants, multiplied, and were picked up in the millions by cool winds to neighboring vegetation (Hanagan).
Under supreme damp conditions, a lone infected potato plant could contaminate thousands of others in just a small number of days. The condemned plants fermented while supplying the necessary nutrition that the fungus required to live, secreting an over-powering stench as they darkened and crumpled in front of the astonished eyes of Irish laborers. There had been crop failures in the past because of weather conditions and other illnesses, but this peculiar new failure was nothing like anything ever seen before (The History Place - Irish Potato Famine).
Potatoes dug out of the earth, at first glance, seemed edible, but then withered and decayed within days like the others. The potatoes had been struck by the exact same fungus that had ruined the plant leaves above ground. By October 1845, news of the blight had extended to London.
British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, rapidly organized a Scientific Commission to inspect the dilemma. As soon as they concisely considered the situation, the Commission delivered a depressing finding; more than half of Ireland's potato crop may expire due to 'wet rot.' (The History Place - Irish Potato Famine).
In the meantime, the people of Ireland articulated their own intuitive philosophies on the cause of the affliction. Perchance, it was thought, static electricity in the air ensuing from the freshly arrived locomotive trains instigated it. Others argued that 'mortiferous vapors' from volcanoes. Some Catholics regarded the predicament in spiritual terms as Divine punishment for the "sins of the people", whereas other religious citizens saw it as Judgment against foul...

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