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Pascal Topolewski

the great famine


topic: Englisch, Ireland, The great Potato Famine, Hausaufgabe, Irland, Referat, Schule

Ireland - the great famine
The great Potato Famine in Ireland was between 1845 and 1849.

(Der Text handelt von der großen Hungersnot in Irland, die 1845 von der Kartoffelfäule ausgelöst wurde.)

How did the blight come?

Likely the volcano Tambora was one of the reasons of this disease. It changed the climate. That‘s why the year 1816 was named the year without summer. In North America, there was a fungus. It causes the potato blight. It was taken to Ireland. Not every kind of potatoes can get this disease, but in Ireland were only two kinds. And both are able to get the Potato blight.

The fungus grows well, when it‘s cold and wet. Because of Tambora, a volcano near Java which erupted, in Ireland the climate was perfect for the fungus. So it could spread on the whole island.

Why was the famine so big?

The Irish people were very poor. The potato is easy to grow up. It doesn‘t need much things to live and it doesn‘t take much place. When it came to Ireland the poor people had something to grow up and the nation could grow, too. And it did!

Whereas there where 500.000 people in 1660, there were 8.100.000 people in 1841. Because of this there wasn‘t enough food for everyone during the famine.
  • 1660: 500.000
  • 1760: 1.500.000
  • 1801: 4.000.000 - 5.000.000
  • 1821: 7.000.000
  • 1841: 8.100.000
Ireland was ruled by England. The Irish people were tenants. Rich English people owned the land. The Irish had to pay for the land and so they only kept the cheap potatoes. When the potato blight came, the people hadn‘t something else to eat.

The potato blight

In 1816 up to 1842, there were fourteen bad harvests. When the Irish saw the first symptoms of the potato blight they thought only a few plants got it. But in October 1845 the whole harvest was destroyed.

The help

Many people think that the English haven‘t done anything, But Robert Peel, the prime minister, bought corn for £ 100.000 to help the Irish. It was sold very cheaply, but too expensive for the Irish. But the English helped also in other ways. There were “Corn Laws“. First they had to save the Irish sellers. The other sellers had to pay the “Corn Laws“ in Ireland and so there was no fight between the Irish sellers and the other ones. But now the English did the “Corn Laws“ away. Now the Irish could get food.

But there was a problem. The tenants had still to pay. They paid with animals like cows and sheep. It is sad for every ship which brought food to Ireland, there were some ships which took food and brought it to England.
You see, there was no direct help for the Irish people. No food free of charge.

The blight goes on The life of The Irish became worse and worse. In 1847 much snow fell and it was very cold. Many people died. This winter was the reason why the English sent free food to the Irish now. They got help and over 3 million people were supported by English food.

The harvest in 1847 was better and the people thought the disease was over.

In 1848 and 1849 the harvests were bad again. And there was no help from England again. In 1848 there was a movement in Ireland. William Smith O‘Brien and Charles Gavan Duffy leaded this movement. They wanted to separate Ireland from England. This Movement was destroyed by the English without any resistance and it happened without blood.

The end of the potato blight was in 1849. But in 1851 people, which died because of hunger, were still seen.


Because of the potato blight a lot of people died. Today the Irish nation isn‘t as big as in 1841. The number of people in Ireland doesn‘t grow very fast. It will take much time up to nation is as big as that time.

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