Subdivision of Land- Farmers in the
19th Century only had about 20 acres
each and so if he had numerous sons,
he would have to divide land between
all of them. Eventually each family was
living off 5 acres or less, not enough to
feed a family
Large Population- The Irish
population in 1800 was about 5
million, however in 1845 the
population grew by 3 million, or 60%.
This was too many people for
Ireland to feed.
Potato Blight- The Irish were
used to famines and had had
14 of them since 1816.
However, a new disease, called
the potato blight took them
by surprise in 1845. First the
leaves blackened and died and
then the dug up potatoes
Chronology of the Famine
1845- This was when, in
October, the blight first struck
Ireland. Farmers awoke to find
acres of potatoes rotten and
1846- The blight struck again, but
much worse this time. People in the
West (and other parts) of Ireland
were starving. The English Prime
Minister ordered £100,000 of Indian
meal from America for the dying Irish.
1847- The crop of potatoes is better
this year, less deaths occur and it
seems the worst of the blight is over
1850- The Irish famine appears to be over
after 5 years of suffering and death.
Consequences of the Famine
Population Decline- By 1851 1 million
Irish people had died and another
million had emigrated to find work
to places such as America.
Altogether this means that about 2
million people were lost.
Consolidation of Land- Farms now grew larger, not smaller as
they did before the famine. Also because of the famine, the
landlords were in debt and were keen to sell off their land. The
tenants had also learned from their mistakes and no longer
subdivided their land to all of their sons, the eldest just got the
farm now and the other boys were forced to become priests or
emigrate. This meant farms grew in size. As the farms were all
growing, the cottier clans, with smaller farms nearly all died out.
Change in Marriage Patterns- As only one son now
inherited land which meant that he had to wait for
the father to die to pass down the land. This meant
that many people couldn't afford to marry at young
ages. The Catholic Church also became a lot stricter
on courting to prevent birth rate rising any more. The
children who didn't inherit often had to emigrate.
Political Consequences- Many people
believed that the famine was the English's
fault and so a republican feeling rose in
many parts of Ireland. This also increased
Republicanism in areas of the USA where
large amounts of Irish had emigrated to.
Interpretations Of the Famine
Appropriately- The government put certain
relief measures in place to aid the people
suffering worst. These included soup kitchens,
workhouses, public works and more.. Some
sources say that the Government were a
great help to the Irish in their time of need.
Inappropriately- Most people argue that the methods used to help the
Irish weren't good enough. Many died doing Public Works and people
were so desperate for food that they'd wait on the side of the road for
someone else to drop out so that they could take their place. The
Workhouses were also very bad quality as they split up families, they
worked the people endlessly and they didn't get enough food to survive
on. Therefore, many people resorted to stealing to stay alive.