When Ireland comes to mind for most people, they think of leprechauns or possibly four leaf clovers. Some may even think of St. Patricks day. These thoughts normally conjure happy feelings, but Ireland has a bitter past full of suffering. The Great Irish Potato Famine of 1845 was a period of five years where Ireland’s much depended on potato crop failed, leaving millions starving.The famine caused a population of eight million to decrease to four million after the famine. One million people were taken by diseases sparked by starvation, and one and a half million people emigrated to other countries. The potatoes were suffering at the hands of phytophthora infestans, an airborne fungus, carried from the Americas to England on ships and to Ireland by wind. Ireland was in for a period of suffering, death, and emigration that all led to today.
Ireland is surrounded the Atlantic Ocean, the Irish Sea, and the Celtic Sea, and borders Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. Dublin, Ireland's capital, is located at exactly as 53º 20’ N and 6º 16’ W. Ireland longest river is River Shannon which flows 240 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. Irelands highest peak is Carrauntoohil located in County Kerry. Ireland grows turnips, barley, sugar beet, wheat, beef, dairy, and of course potatoes. Currently, Ireland is 88% Roman Catholic, 3% Church of Ireland, 2% another branch of the Christian religion, and the remaining 4% have no religion. Ireland’s official language is both English and Irish (Gaelic). The Irish During the time before and even after the famine relied on potatoes as their main source of nourishment.
Ireland exports many things including machinery and equipment, computers, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, live animals, and animal products. Each year they export $124.3 billion in goods. Although exports have helped Ireland get back on its feet after the famine, emigration caused Ireland’s population to plummet.
The potato famine caused ecosystems to evolve to accommodate the loss of potatoes. With the potatoes dying and rotting, this gave the fungus ‘food’ to live, and kept it going fueling the famine. Now, even though we know that there was so much human suffering during the famine, you have to wonder what happened before the famine.
Many people would like to think that, before the famine, Ireland was a great country full of happy inhabitants and plentiful harvests. The reality was much different. In 1798, the Irish people were inspired by the American and French revolutions. The British promptly squashed that rebellion using fear. The British government warned and eventually held hangings and floggings to keep the Irish under control. The Irish were rebelling against Britain's laws, mainly the Penal Laws.
The Penal Laws were designed in 1695 to punish the Catholic Irish for supporting the Catholic Stuart King James II. James rallied the Irish and planned to take the throne from the protestant William of Orange (William III of England)....