March 13, 2013

Let's Talk

Since we're on the subject of potatoes and the Irish, I found some interesting facts about the great potato famine that occurred in Ireland starting in 1845.  It lasted for six years and over a million people perished because of it.  It also caused another million people to flee Ireland.  The main cause of the famine was due to a plant disease caused late blight.  It destroyed the leaves and the roots (which, of course, was the tuber or edible part of the plant).  Many of the people of Ireland were poor and almost half of them relied solely on potatoes for their diet.  Those that didn't still included potatoes as part of their meals.

Some other reasons that caused such devastation were:

*Only one main type of potato (Irish Lumper) was grown so there wasn't any diversity which would have helped the crop not to be totally decimated.

*In 1845, the weather was cool and moist which allowed the disease to thrive (which by the way arrived accidentally via North America).

*The British government's effort to help was not adequate even though they spent £8 million.

Famine Memorial
Even though the Irish never asked for charity (according to what I read), England did ask. The first noted to make a donation was the Irish living in Calcutta. Their donation of £14,000 had been raised by soldiers serving there and employees of the East India Company.  Pope Pius IX and Queen Victoria also sent money to help.  In 1847, a group of Choctaws (Native Americans) collected funds to send to the the starving people (some say it was $170 and some say it was $710).  They had experienced hunger and starvation during the Trail of the Tears so they knew first hand what the people were facing. Interestingly, 150 years later eight Irish people retraced the Trail of Tears and Ireland's President, Mary Robinson, commemorated the donation.

You can read a thorough history by following this link:

No comments:

Post a Comment