The Irish Potato Famine - Consequences
In two previous pages we looked at Ireland before the Irish Potato Famine, and at the Famine itself. Now in part three, we look at the consequences of the great Irish Famine.
While from 1849 onwards there was some harvest, the repercussions of those difficult years were to be felt for decades. In fact, the impact is still felt today. Here are some of the most important.
During the years of the Great Famine and its aftermath about 1 million people died, not so much from starvation but by diseases associated with malnourishment. About 1 more million emigrated, most to America but many also to Britain, Canada and Australia. The immigrants were not always welcomed. The sight of shipload after shipload of destitute, impoverished and malnourished immigrants raised fears of unemployment, crime and disease among the receiving populations. The immigrants had a hard time starting a new life. But they eventually settled in and because the founders of prosperous communities. They bean sending money back which in turn helped the local economy survive.
The Famine caused considerable unrest leading to a rebellion in 1848. The social fabric of society was changed. Many of the poorest tenants were evicted from their homes and tiny farms because they could not pay the rent. Moreover there was a widespread feeling that the government was not doing enough to contain the Famine. Social unrest grew and in 1848 erupted into violence. The uprising was quickly contained but disaffection continued. As the new immigrants, especially in America, settled down and became affluent, they began to envision an Ireland free from British control. While it would be too much to say that the Famine laid the roots for what eventually became the Republic of Ireland, it certainly helped alienate the Irish from the British.
A visitor to Ireland today will come across many memorials to the victims of the Great Famine scattered throughout mostly in the Republic, but also in Northern Ireland. The Famine is one of the very sad pages in the history of this land, indeed one of the very sad pages in the history of Europe.
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