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Thursday, September 28, 2023

What happened during the Irish potato famine

The Irish potato famine represents one of the darkest and most shameful periods of the Victorian era in Britain. Whist the Empire grew and expanded to take over a great part of the world on its doorstep it’s own people in Ireland were starving. It is reckoned that over a million people died from starvation and destitution. Over half a million of its inhabitants left Ireland, creating one of the largest phases of the diaspora ever seen. Many contemporary writers have considered it to be an example of modern genocide given the inaction and callous nature of the Government in England. It’s seen as one of the principal reasons why Ireland sought independence, succeeding some 50 years later, by breaking away from the United Kingdom.

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Ireland’s populace was dependent on the potato. Brought over from South America it was found it made an excellent growing crop in the peat fields of the island. It was hardy and easier to grow than grain. It was also a brilliant export food crop. However, when the crops began to fail there was nothing in place to support the growers or the economy.

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The problem stemmed from a blight that literally rotted the potatoes making them inedible. The land was ruined meaning no new potatoes could be grown. As it would now be classed as needing Contaminated Land Remediation, a company like soilfix.co.uk/services/groundwater-soil-remediation-services would be required. At the time, the Whig Government believed that the market would help matters and were loathe to use direct government action. This fanned the flames of an already growing anger that would soon come to light in the various sectarian troubles afterwards.

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