How and why did the Irish potato famine end?

Discussion in 'theory, philosophy & history' started by Slo-mo, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. Slo-mo

    Slo-mo Banned Banned

    I've been watching this excellent series about irish history

    This episode deals with the potato famine which, it says, lasted for 5 years. Most people who have a grip of history know how awful it was and that is re-iterated in the film.

    What it doesn't say is why it ended. Was it simply a case that so many people had died or emigrated the food supply was now enough? Did they find a way to combat the blight, stop it from spreading, even early pesticides? Or did the potatoes slowly start to resist blight through natural selection?

    Or something else?
    Lupa likes this.
  2. Idris2002

    Idris2002 put humans in tube

    The most vulnerable people died. The next most vulnerable emigrated.
  3. Lupa

    Lupa It's all about the butter

    Blight can happen due to weather conditions. There are potato blight warnings every now and then depending on humidity. But the blight during that time was a different strain.

    The Starvation (I refuse to call it famine as there was plenty food in the country) was caused by a number of things.
    1. Failure of potato crops because of blight.
    2. Potato being the sole food of many poor Irish people.
    3. The Laisez Faire attitudes of the British government.
    4. The failure of the government to distribute food to those who needed it.

    It ended because 2,000,000 of the population either died or left the country. One quarter of the population, mostly poor Irish people, either died or starved.
    It also ended because potato crops in subsequent years were not hit so badly by blight and food was distributed in a somewhat more organised fashion. Also there's a suggestion that the particular blight that caused the crops to fail was a different type to normal blight.
    It's really not easy to find out. Not sure how much research has been done to find out why the blight didn't effect crops in the 5th year. was being distributed in a more efficient way. If soup kitchens and workhouses are considered "efficient".
    Many more charitable landowners actually did help their tenants and this attitude spread...Not very far but in pockets.
  4. RainbowTown

    RainbowTown Well-Known Member

  5. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Every man and every woman is a star

    There were great fears in 1879/80 that famine might happen again, and the London Irish turned with all their efforts to fundraising to relieve the afflicted
  6. Slo-mo

    Slo-mo Banned Banned

    Thanks guys, helps me understand a bit more. It does make you wonder if the Whigs might have been more sympathetic to starving peasants in East Anglia or even Wales or if their obsession with free market doctrine would still have trumped everything :(
  7. campanula

    campanula plant a seed

    Late blight, Phytopthera infestans, is only effective in particular circumstances - at least 48 hours of 90% humidity and temperatures between 16-20C. It is entirely possible that these environmental conditions were not met during Year 5 of the famine. The entire disaster could have been prevented by diversifying the crop from the single potato variety - high Yield 'Lumper'...and using copper as a fungicide (not in common use until 1880).
    Of course, there are many exacerbating social and political reasons for the horrendous scale of death and dispossession.
  8. Ax^

    Ax^ Silly Rabbit

    tis a historical reason not to trust a lib dem to boot

  9. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    Personally I blame that pair of bastards known as King Billy and his big white horse.
    Slo-mo, Ax^ and Lupa like this.

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