Irish Potato Famine

Topics: Great Famine, British Empire, Ireland Pages: 4 (1414 words) Published: February 26, 2014
In 1845, one of the worst disasters in Ireland's long and turbulent history struck. A terrible strain of potato blight wiped out much of the crop, leaving the majority of Ireland's people without food. In the years following, blight struck again and again, coupled with devastating epidemics of disease caused by starvation and close quarters. All this occurred under the very nose of the British Empire, one of the most powerful in the world at the time. Yet, because of their prejudice and general misunderstanding of the Irish people, the British Government failed to respond sufficiently to avert disaster. The British, in fact, exacerbated the effects of the famine in their ignorance of the Irish culture. The British were highly intolerant of their western neighbors. They labored for centuries under the mistaken impression that the Irish were lazy and uncivilized. The potato was even termed the "lazy crop" by the British. Another British opinion during the famine years was that it was the fault of the Irish that they had no other means of providing their own aid to starving families, and that they were getting what they deserved. However, in all fairness, most of the British had absolutely no idea how destitute things had become for their sister island. Most of the British had never been to Ireland, and most of what the people were told about her came from the government. The main problem that the British government seemed to have with Ireland was that they were of similar racial background, yet were sufficiently different as to be called racially inferior. The question became, how to subjugate the Irish to British rule, attempting to make it seem as though there was no prejudice, all the while keeping the Irish in their place. It was unthinkable to the British of the time to consider the Irish equals. In 1845, a terrible potato blight swept Ireland. Blight is a fungal infection of the potato plant, though no one knew it at the time. The high dependence of the...
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