'An tOcras Mór' The Great Hunger.

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SWIFTY
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Prior to the arrival in Ireland of the disease Phytophthora infestans, commonly known as blight, there were only two main potato plant diseases.[28] One was called 'dry rot' or 'taint' and the other was a virus, known popularly as 'curl'.[28][29] Phytophthora infestans is an oomycete (not a fungus).

 

 

An 1849 depiction of Bridget O'Donnell and her two children during the famine.

In 1851, the Census of Ireland Commissioners recorded 24 failures of the potato crop going back to 1728, of varying severity. In 1739, the crop was "entirely destroyed", and again in 1740. In 1770, the crop largely failed again. In 1800, there was another "general" failure, and in 1807, 50% of the crop was lost. In 1821 and 1822, the potato crop failed completely in Munster and Connaught, and 1830 and 1831 were years of failure in Mayo, Donegal and Galway. In 1832, 1833, 1834 and 1836, a large number of districts suffered serious loss, and in 1835, the potato failed in Ulster. 1836 and 1837 brought "extensive" failures throughout Ireland and again in 1839 failure was universal throughout the country; both 1841 and 1844 potato crop failure was widespread. According to Woodham-Smith, "the unreliability of the potato crop was an accepted fact in Ireland


June 30, 2011 at 4:10 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
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How and when the blight Phytophthora infestans arrived in Europe is still uncertain; according to P.M.A Bourke, however, it almost certainly was not present prior to 1842, and probably arrived in 1844. At least one of the sources of the infection suggests it may have originated in the northern Andes region of South America, Peru in particular. It was then conveyed to Europe on ships carrying guano, which was in great demand as a fertiliser on European and British farms.

In 1844, Irish newspapers carried reports concerning a disease which for two years had attacked the potato crops in America.[29] According to James Donnelly, a likely source was the eastern United States, where in 1843 and 1844 blight largely destroyed the potato crops. He suggests that ships from Baltimore, Philadelphia or New York could have brought diseased potatoes to European ports.[32] W.C. Paddock suggests that it was transported on potatoes being carried to feed passengers on clipper ships sailing from America to Ireland.

Once it was introduced, it spread rapidly. By late summer and early autumn of 1845, it had spread throughout the greater part of northern and central Europe. Belgium, Holland, northern France and southern England by mid-August had all been stricken.[

On August 16, the Gardeners' Chronicle and Horticultural Gazette printed a report which described 'a blight of unusual character' in the Isle of Wight. A week later, on 23 August, it reported that 'A fearful malady has broken out among the potato crop... In Belgium the fields are said to be completely desolated. There is hardly a sound sample in Covent Garden market... As for cure for this distemper, there is none...'[34] These reports were extensively covered in Irish newspapers.[35] On 13 September[fn 3] the Gardeners' Chronicle made 'a dramatic announcement': 'We stop the Press with very great regret to announce that the potato Murrain has unequivocally declared itself in Ireland.' The British Government were nevertheless optimistic through the next few weeks.

Crop loss in 1845 has been estimated at a high of 50%[36] to ⅓.[5] The Mansion House Committee in Dublin, to which hundreds of letters were directed from all over Ireland, claimed on November 19, 1845 to have ascertained beyond the shadow of doubt that considerably more than one-third of the entire of the potato crop ... has been already destroyed'.

In 1846, ¾ of the harvest was lost to blight.[37] By December, a third of a million destitute people were employed in public works.[38] According to Cormac Ó Gráda the first attack of potato blight caused considerable hardship in rural Ireland, from the autumn of 1846, when the first deaths from starvation were recorded.[39] Seed potatoes were scarce in 1847, little had been sown, so despite average yields, hunger continued. 1848 yields would be only ⅔ of normal. As over 3 million Irish people were totally dependent on potatoes for food, hunger and famine were inevitable.

 


June 30, 2011 at 4:11 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
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Reaction in Ireland

 

The Corporation of Dublin sent a memorial to the Queen, "praying her" to call Parliament together early (Parliament was at this time prorogued), and to recommend the requisition of some public money for public works, especially railways in Ireland. The Town Council of Belfast met and made similar suggestions, but neither body asked for charity, according to Mitchel. "They demanded that, if Ireland was indeed an Integral part of the realm, the common exchequer of both islands should be used—not to give alms, but to provide employment on public works of general utility." It was Mitchel's opinion that "if Yorkshire and Lancashire had sustained a like calamity in England, there is no doubt such measures as these would have been taken, promptly and liberally."[

A deputation from the citizens of Dublin, including the Duke of Leinster, the Lord Mayor, Lord Cloncurry, and Daniel O'Connell, went to the current Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and offered suggestions, such as opening the ports to foreign corn for a time, stopping distillation from grain, or providing public works; that this was extremely urgent, as millions of people would shortly be without food. Lord Heytesbury told them they "were premature", and told them not to be alarmed, that learned men (Playfair and Lindley) had been sent from England to enquire into all those matters; and that the Inspectors of Constabulary and Stipendiary Magistrates were charged with making constant reports from their districts; and there was no "immediate pressure on the market".[40] Of these reports from Lord Heytesbury, Peel in a letter to Sir James Graham was to say that he found the accounts "very alarming", though he reminded him that there was, according to Woodham-Smith "always a tendency to exaggeration in Irish news".

On December 8, 1845, Daniel O'Connell, in the Repeal Association, proposed the following remedies to the pending disaster. One of the first things he suggested was the introduction of "Tenant-Right" as practised in Ulster, giving the landlord a fair rent for his land, but giving the tenant compensation for any money he might have laid out on the land in permanent improvements.

O'Connell then pointed out the means used by the Belgian legislature during the same season: shutting their ports against the export of provisions, but opening them to imports. He suggested that if Ireland had a domestic Parliament the ports would be thrown open and the abundant crops raised in Ireland would be kept for the people of Ireland. O'Connell maintained that only an Irish parliament would provide for the people both food and employment, saying that a repeal of the Act of Union was a necessity and Ireland's only hope.

 

 

John Mitchel

John Mitchel, one of the leading political writers of Young Ireland, as early as 1844, in The Nation raised the issue of the "Potato Disease" in Ireland noting how powerful an agent hunger had been in certain revolutions.[43] On February 14, 1846, he put forward his views on "the wretched way in which the famine was being trifled with", and asked, had not the Government even yet any conception that there might be soon "millions of human beings in Ireland having nothing to eat."

On February 28, writing on the Coercion Bill which was then going through the House of Lords, he noted that this was the only kind of legislation that was sure to meet with no obstruction in the British House of Commons. His view was that however the government may differ about feeding the Irish people, "they agree most cordially in the policy of taxing, prosecuting and ruining them."[45] (As it happened, the bill was subsequently defeated, and Peel's government fell.)

In an article on "English Rule" on March 7, Mitchel wrote that the Irish People were "expecting famine day by day" and they attributed it collectively, not to "the rule of heaven as to the greedy and cruel policy of England." He continued in the same article to write that the people "believe that the season as they roll are but ministers of England's rapacity; that their starving children cannot sit down to their scanty meal but they see the harpy claw of England in their dish." The people, Mitchel wrote, watched as their "food melting in rottenness off the face of the earth," all the while watching "heavy-laden ships, freighted with the yellow corn their own hands have sown and reaped, spreading all sail for England."

Mitchel later wrote one of the first widely circulated tracts on the famine, The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps) in 1861. It established the widespread view that the treatment of the famine by the British was a deliberate murder of the Irish, and contained the famous phrase:

The Almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight, but the English created the Famine."

Mitchel was charged with sedition because of his writings, but this charge was dropped and he was convicted by a packed jury under the newly enacted Treason Felony Act and sentenced to 14 years transportation to Bermuda.

The Nation according to Charles Gavan Duffy, insisted that the one remedy was that which the rest of Europe had adopted, which even the parliaments of the Pale had adopted in periods of distress, which was to retain in the country the food raised by her people till the people were fed.

Ireland at this time was, according to the Act of Union of 1801, an integral part of the British imperial homeland, "the richest empire on the globe," and was "the most fertile portion of that empire," in addition; Ireland was sheltered by both "... Habeas Corpus and trial by jury ...".[49] And yet Ireland's elected representatives seemed powerless to act on the country's behalf as Members of the British Parliament. Commenting on this at the time John Mitchel wrote: "That an island which is said to be an integral part of the richest empire on the globe ... should in five years lose two and a half millions of its people (more than one fourth) by hunger, and fever the consequence of hunger, and flight beyond sea to escape from hunger ..."[49] The period of the potato blight in Ireland from 1845 to 1851 was full of political confrontation.[10] The mass movement for Repeal of the Act of Union had failed in its objectives by the time its founder Daniel O'Connell died in 1847.[citation needed] A more radical Young Ireland group seceded from the Repeal movement and attempted an armed rebellion in the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848. It was unsuccessful.

 


June 30, 2011 at 4:12 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
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Government response

 

F.S.L. Lyons characterised the initial response of the British government to the early less severe phase of the famine as "prompt and relatively successful."[50] Confronted by widespread crop failure in the autumn of 1845, Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel purchased £100,000 worth of maize and cornmeal secretly from America. Baring Brothers & Co initially acted as purchasing agents for the Prime Minister. The government hoped that they would not "stifle private enterprise" and that their actions would not act as a disincentive to local relief efforts. Due to weather conditions, the first shipment did not arrive in Ireland until the beginning of February 1846.

The maize corn was then re-sold for a penny a pound.[52] The corn when it arrived had not been ground and was inedible, and this task involved a long and complicated process if it was to be done correctly and it was unlikely to be carried out locally. In addition, before the cornmeal could be consumed, it had to be 'very much' cooked again, or eating it could result in severe bowel complaints.[51] Because of maize's yellow colour, and the fact that it had to be ground twice, it became known in Ireland as 'Peel's brimstone'. In 1846, Peel then moved to repeal the Corn Laws, tariffs on grain which kept the price of bread artificially high. The famine situation worsened during 1846 and the repeal of the Corn Laws in that year did little to help the starving Irish; the measure split the Conservative Party, leading to the fall of Peel's ministry.

In March, Peel set up a programme of public works in Ireland but was forced to resign as Prime Minister on 29 June."[54] This fall came on June 25, when he was defeated in the House of Commons on a motion that the Irish Coercion Bill be read a second time. According to Michael Doheny, the majority against him was 73, and it was made of the "Whig party, the extreme Conservatives, the ultra-Radicals and Irish Repealers." Ten days after, Lord John Russell assumed the seals of office.

The measures undertaken by Peel's successor, Lord John Russell, proved comparatively "inadequate" as the crisis deepened. Russell's ministry introduced public works projects, which by December 1846 employed some half million Irish and proved impossible to administer.[56] Sir Charles Trevelyan, who was in charge of the administration of Government relief to the victims of the Irish Famine, limited the Government's actual relief because he thought "the judgement of God sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson". For his policy, he was commemorated in the song The Fields of Athenry. The Public Works were "strictly ordered" to be unproductive—that is, they would create no fund to repay their own expenses. Many hundreds of thousands of "feeble and starving men" according to John Mitchel, were kept digging holes, and breaking up roads, which was doing no service.

 

 

A memorial to the victims of the Doolough Tragedy (30 March 1849). In order to continue receiving relief, hundreds were instructed to travel many miles in bad weather. A large number died on the journey.

The new Lord John Russell Whig administration, influenced by their laissez-faire belief that the market would provide the food needed but at the same time ignoring the food exports to England,[58] then halted government food and relief works, leaving many hundreds of thousands of people without any work, money or food.[59] In January, the government abandoned these projects and turned to a mixture of "indoor" and "outdoor" direct relief; the former administered in workhouses through the Poor Law, the latter through soup kitchens. The costs of the Poor Law fell primarily on the local landlords, who in turn attempted to reduce their liability by evicting their tenants.[56] This was then facilitated through the "Cheap Ejectment Acts."[57] The poor law amendment act was passed in June 1847. According to James Donnelly in Fearful Realities: New Perspectives on the Famine,[60] it embodied the principle popular in Britain that Irish property must support Irish poverty. The landed proprietors in Ireland were held in Britain to have created the conditions that led to the famine. It was asserted however, that the British parliament since the Act of Union of 1800 was partly to blame.[60] This point was raised in the Illustrated London News on 13 February 13, 1847, "There was no laws it would not pass at their request, and no abuse it would not defend for them." On the 24 March the Times reported that Britain had permitted in Ireland "a mass of poverty, disaffection, and degradation without a parallel in the world. It allowed proprietors to suck the very life-blood of that wretched race."

The "Gregory clause" of the Poor Law prohibited anyone who held at least ¼ of an acre from receiving relief.[56] This in practice meant that if a farmer, having sold all his produce to pay rent, duties, rates and taxes, should be reduced, as many thousands of them were, to applying for public outdoor relief, he would not get it until he had first delivered up all his land to the landlord. Of this Law Mitchel was to write: "it is the able-bodied idler only who is to be fed — if he attempted to till but one rood of ground, he dies." This simple method of ejectment was called "passing paupers through the workhouse" — a man went in, a pauper came out.[57] These factors combined to drive thousands of people off the land: 90,000 in 1849, and 104,000 in 1850.


June 30, 2011 at 4:14 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
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Food exports to England

Records show Irish lands exported food even during the worst years of the Famine. When Ireland had experienced a famine in 1782–1783, ports were closed to keep Irish-grown food in Ireland to feed the Irish. Local food prices promptly dropped. Merchants lobbied against the export ban, but government in the 1780s overrode their protests. No such export ban happened in the 1840s.

Cecil Woodham-Smith, an authority on the Irish Famine, wrote in The Great Hunger; Ireland 1845–1849 that no issue has provoked so much anger and embittered relations between England and Ireland as "the indisputable fact that huge quantities of food were exported from Ireland to England throughout the period when the people of Ireland were dying of starvation." Ireland remained a net exporter of food throughout most of the five-year famine.

Christine Kinealy writes that Irish exports of calves, livestock (except pigs), bacon and ham actually increased during the famine. The food was shipped under guard from the most famine-stricken parts of Ireland. However, the poor had no money to buy food and the government then did not ban exports.

The following poem written by Miss Jane Francesca Elgee, a well known and popular author, was carried in The Nation:

Weary men, what reap ye? Golden corn for the stranger.

What sow ye? Human corpses that wait for the avenger.

Fainting forms, Hunger—stricken, what see you in the offing

Stately ships to bear our food away, amid the stranger's scoffing.

There's a proud array of soldiers—what do they round your door?

They guard our master's granaries from the thin hands of the poor.

Pale mothers, wherefore weeping? 'Would to God that we were dead—

Our children swoon before us, and we cannot give them bread.

Speranza


June 30, 2011 at 4:16 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
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Charity

 

Further information: Souperism

William Smith O'Brien, speaking on the subject of charity in a speech to the Repeal Association, February 1845, applauded the fact that the universal sentiment on the subject of charity was that they would accept no English charity. He expressed the view that the resources of this country were still abundantly adequate to maintain the population and that until those resources had been utterly exhausted, he hoped that there was no one in "Ireland who will so degrade himself as to ask the aid of a subscription from England".

Mitchel wrote in his The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps), on the same subject, that no one from Ireland ever asked for charity during this period, and that it was England who sought charity on Ireland's behalf, and, having received it, was also responsible for administering it. He suggested that it has been carefully inculcated by the British Press, "that the moment Ireland fell into distress, she became an abject beggar at England's gate, and that she even craved alms from all mankind." He affirmed that in Ireland no one ever asked alms or favours of any kind from England or any other nation, but that it was England herself that begged for Ireland. He suggested that it was England that "sent 'round the hat over all the globe, asking a penny for the love of God to relieve the poor Irish," and constituting herself the agent of all that charity, took all the profit of it.

Large sums of money were donated by charities; Calcutta is credited with making the first donation of £14,000. The money was raised by Irish soldiers serving there and Irish people employed by the East India Company. Pope Pius IX sent funds and Queen Victoria donated £2,000.

Quaker and Irish politician Alfred Webb later wrote:

Upon the famine arose the wide spread system of proselytism ... and a network of well-intentioned Protestant associations spread over the poorer parts of the country, which in return for soup and other help endeavoured to gather the people into their churches and schools...The movement left seeds of bitterness that have not yet died out, and Protestants, and not altogether excluding Friends, sacrificed much of the influence for good they might have had..."

In addition to the religious, non-religious organisations came to the assistance of famine victims. The British Relief Association was one such group. Founded in 1847, the Association raised money throughout England, America and Australia; their funding drive benefited by a "Queen's Letter", a letter from Queen Victoria appealing for money to relieve the distress in Ireland.[68] With this initial letter the Association raised £171,533. A second, somewhat less successful "Queen's Letter" was issued in late 1847. In total, the British Relief Association raised approximately £200,000 (c. US$1,000,000 at the time).

Private initiatives such as The Central Relief Committee of the Society of Friends (Quakers) attempted to fill the gap caused by the end of government relief and eventually the government reinstated the relief works, although bureaucracy slowed the release of food supplies


June 30, 2011 at 4:17 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
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Ottoman aid

In 1845, Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid declared his intention to send £10,000 to Irish farmers but Queen Victoria requested that the Sultan send only £1,000, because she herself had sent only £2,000. The Sultan sent the £1,000 sterling but also secretly sent three ships full of food. The English courts tried to block the ships, but the food arrived at Drogheda harbour and was left there by Ottoman sailors.

From Native Americans

In 1847, midway through the Great Irish Famine (1845–1849), a group of Native American Choctaws collected $710 (although many articles say the original amount was $170 after a misprint in Angie Debo's The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic) and sent it to help starving Irish men, women and children. "It had been just 16 years since the Choctaw people had experienced the Trail of Tears, and they had faced starvation... It was an amazing gesture." according to Judy Allen, editor of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma's newspaper, Bishinik, based at the Oklahoma Choctaw tribal headquarters in Durant, Oklahoma. To mark the 150th anniversary, eight Irish people retraced the Trail of Tears, and the donation was publicly commemorated by President Mary Robinson.


June 30, 2011 at 4:18 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
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Emigration

 

Main article: Irish diaspora

 

 

Emigrants Leave Ireland, engraving by Henry Doyle (1827–1893), from Mary Frances Cusack's Illustrated History of Ireland, 1868.

While the famine was responsible for a significant increase in emigration from Ireland, of anywhere from 45% to nearly 85% depending on the year and the county, it was not the sole cause. Nor was it even the era when mass emigration from Ireland commenced. That can be traced to the middle of the 18th century, when some 250,000 people left Ireland to settle in the New World alone, over a period of some 50 years. From the defeat of Napoleon to the beginning of the famine, a period of 30 years, "at least 1,000,000 and possibly 1,500,000 emigrated".[83] However, during the worst of the famine, emigration reached somewhere around 250,000 in one year alone, with far more emigrants coming from western Ireland than any other part.

Families did not migrate en masse but younger members of families did. So much so that emigration almost became a rite of passage, as evidenced by the data that show that, unlike similar emigration throughout world history, women emigrated just as often, just as early, and in the same numbers as men. The emigrant started a new life in a new land, sent remittances "[reaching] £1,404,000 by 1851"[85] back to his/her family in Ireland which, in turn, allowed another member of the family to emigrate.

Emigration during the famine years of 1845-1850 was to England, Scotland, the U.S., Canada, and Australia.[86] Many of those fleeing to the Americas used the well-established McCorkell Line.

Of the 100,000 Irish that sailed to Canada in 1847, an estimated one out of five died from disease and malnutrition, including over 5,000 at Grosse Isle.[88] Mortality rates of 30% aboard the coffin ships were common.

By 1854, between 1½ and 2 million Irish left their country due to evictions, starvation, and harsh living conditions. In America, most Irish became city-dwellers: with little money, many had to settle in the cities that the ships they came on landed in. By 1850, the Irish made up a quarter of the population in Boston, Massachusetts; New York City; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Baltimore, Maryland. In addition, Irish populations became prevalent in some American mining communities.

 

 

A graph of the populations of Ireland and Europe indexed against 1750.

The 1851 census reported that more than half the inhabitants of Toronto, Ontario were Irish, and in 1847 alone, 38,000 famine Irish flooded a city with fewer than 20,000 citizens. Other Canadian cities such as Saint John, New Brunswick; Quebec City and Montreal, Quebec; Ottawa, Kingston and Hamilton, Ontario also received large numbers of Famine Irish since Canada, as part of the British Empire, could not close its ports to Irish ships (unlike the U.S.), and they could get passage cheaply (or free in the case of tenant evictions) in returning empty lumber holds. However fearing nationalist insurgencies the British government placed harsh restrictions on Irish immigration to Canada after 1847 resulting in larger influxes to the U.S. The largest Famine grave site outside of Ireland is at Grosse-Île, Quebec, an island in the St. Lawrence River used to quarantine ships near Quebec City. In 1851, about a quarter of Liverpool's population was Irish-born.

The famine marked the beginning of the steep depopulation of Ireland in the 19th century. Population had increased by 13–14% in the first three decades of the 19th century. Between 1831 and 1841, population grew by 5%. Application of Thomas Malthus's idea of population expanding geometrically while resources increase arithmetically was popular during the famines of 1817 and 1822. However by the 1830s, a decade before the famine, they were seen as overly simplistic and Ireland's problems were seen "less as an excess of population than as a lack of capital investment."The population of Ireland was increasing no faster than that of England, which suffered no equivalent catastrophe.


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WHEN GENOCIDE BECAME "FAMINE" : IRELAND, 1845 - 1850

This petition seeks your support for a campaign to:

* Persuade relevant authors, editors and website content providers to stop using the word ‘Famine’ for what took place in Ireland between 1845 and 1850, and start using terms such as, "The Great Hunger" or 'An tOcras Mór

PETITION LINK- TO CHANGE THE WORD FAMINE http://www.petitions24.com/when_famine_became_genocide_ireland_1845_-_1850


June 30, 2011 at 4:20 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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