When Ireland Starved

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Here is an unflinching look at the causes and results of poverty in Ireland culminating in the great famine of the 1840s. The British control over Ireland expanded with the enactment of the Penal Laws which virtually stripped the Irish of their land over the years. Under the Penal Laws the Irish had to divide inherited land between all sons, thus making farms smaller and smaller through the generations. They could not inherit land owned by Protestants; lease land for more than 31 years; enter the legal profession; hold public office; attend Trinity College; go abroad for education; teach school or even own a horse worth more than £5. Most ended up as tenant farmers paying exorbitant rents to foreign landlords. When the potato famine hit in 1845, the poor could not pay rent and buy food. Over one million died and over one million emigrated or were deported to Australia. Part 1 Causes of Poverty  First in a four part series tracing the events that became known as – The Great Famine. “In all countries paupers may be discovered, but an entire nation of paupers is what never was seen until it was shown in Ireland”. Gustave de Beaumont was one of the many who commented on the severe state of Ireland in the 19th century. Part 2 The Irish Holocaust  Second of a four part series tracing the events that became known as The Great Famine. Michael Buerk alerted the world to the crisis in Ethiopia in 1985 with television pictures. In 1846 the journalist of the London News played the same role for the Irish Famine. Part 3 Managing the Famine  Third in a four part series tracing the events that became known as The Great Famine. John Mitchell claimed that during all the Famine years, Ireland actually produced sufficient food, wool, and the flax to feed and clothe not nine but eighteen million people. Was the Irish Famine the result of mismanagement? Part 4 The Exodus.  Last in a four part series tracing the sequence of events that became known as the Great Irish Famine. “If crosses and tombs could be erected on the water, the whole route of the emigrant vessels from Europe to America would long since have assumed the appearance of a crowded cemetery” So wrote an American emigration official in the middle of the 19th Century. Emigration wasn’t an escape from death and destruction for everyone.

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