The topic we have chosen was the Irish Potato Famine. We chose this as we are very interested in this topic. It is also a topic that is brought up frequently in the novel “Divided City” by Theresa Breslin. There is one scene in the novel where during a football match between Celtic and Rangers, the Rangers supporters throw potatoes at the Celtic fans as a symbol of the Irish potato famine which is what we decided to research more about.
How the Famine Began
In 1846, more than half of the entire Irish population were relying only on potatoes for their diet. The other half of the population relied on potatoes for the majority of their diet. Moist, damp weather and the arrival of the North American potato disease, Phytofthora, caused at least a quarter of all potatoes to rot before they were ripe. Around one million people died of starvation and disease. Another two million emigrated to other parts of the UK and overseas in order to stay alive and not be at risk of dying.
The Potato Famine lasted for six years and the population went from 8.4 million to 6.6 million. Also known as the Great Potato Famine, the life expectancy dropped to 40 years old. Although the government tried to help it was unfortunately inadequate and did not help the tragic circumstances nor did it help the situation for the unlucky Irish in this terrible situation. The government did not do enough to help the people of Ireland.
The effect was shocking as the famine lasted for a total of six years and killed many. The decades that followed were no better as businesses were taken over by poorly educated farmers. Rent prices increased so that the houses could be knocked down so that there was more potato farms. They continued this after the famine was over in order to grow potatoes. When Ireland gained independence in 1921, the population was half of what it was in the 1840’s before the famine.
We hope that this has been informative and has taught you something that you perhaps did not already know about the Irish Potato Famine. The novel “Divided City” discusses the event and how people today remember and are even mocked for the tragic event in history.
The History Place, http://www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/famine/introduction.htm, accessed 30/10/15
Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/event/irish-Potato-Famine, accessed 30/10/15
BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/victorians/famine_01.shtml, accessed 30/10/15