Irish family's living conditions during famine
This is a photo of the typical living conditions many Irish were faced with during the great famine of the 1840's. Also known as the Great Hunger, Ireland was affected by a terrible plight when the potato crops failed year after year, devastating the Irish economy, and forcing hundreds upon thousands of Irish to emmigrate to the United States. After the first five years of the famine, there were already a million dead from starvation (Woodham-Smith 1989). It is commonly believed that the potato crops failed due to wet putrefaction. This is a process in which the potatos became overly soaked with water due to heavy rain fall, water which the crops could not absorb. Due to a lack of sunshine, the potatoes did not ripen and became diseased (Woodham-Smith 1989). Furthermore, poor weather prevented crops from being planted on time. The deplorable living conditions of Irish farmers and laborers stemmed from their limited income, and this situation was only worsened when there were no crops to be grown or sold during the famine years. Inadequate preparation by the government failed to support the growing excess of impoverished Irish, setting the stage for disease and the eventual exodus of thousands (O'Grada 1999).
O'Grada, C. 1999. Black '47 and Beyond. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Woodham-Smith, C. 1989. The Great Hunger. New York: Old Town Books.