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The Irish Famine

Many years ago before I went up to Oxford to study Agricultural Science my wise old Tutor, Dr.Dawkins, set me to research The Irish Famine. The famine is still being used as a rod to beat the English up and maintain the Irish as a victim nation. As always the truth is never pure and never simple but it is a long way from the mythology that is spread - for instance by Law in New York:

"History teaches us," said Governor Pataki, signing the relevant law into effect in 1996, "that the Great Irish Hunger was not the result of a massive failure of the Irish potato crop but rather was the result of a deliberate campaign by the British to deny the Irish people the food they needed to survive."

If you care about the truth, whether it is about science, economics or history, pull up a chair and read : John Derbyshire on the Irish Famine on National Review Online

Comments

We all know that the potato blight was caused by a fungus, easily prevented by a cheap, simple copper sulphate spray, a fact not known at the time. The disease was devastating, and although the English did respond, they were too slow to be quickly effective. However the Irish cannot cope without their victimhood, and this victimhood-by-proxy has always been important in Boston-American-Democrat politics; witness the success of Noraid. Truth to tell this ethnic group had a greater effect on the conduct of WW2 than the German-American population. Like the entrenched attitudes of Stalinists in Russia, or Maoists in China, the ethos survives and lives on.

I seem to recall that stat that in today's terms 'English' aid sent as what would be termed 'famine relief' amounted to some 2bn - shame to let the truth get in the way though!

Harry

But they were Organic potatoes, you can't spray them!

(Pedant alert - actually you can use real nasties like Copper Sulphate under Organic rules!)

yes but were the organic potatoes planted by planters hired under a "diversity programme"?

From the sources I've read, The starvation and civilian uproar during Irish famine can be blamed on ineptitude more than just cold heartedness from England.
The truth is, in 1845, the rest of the harvest in Ireland was a good one, the ships bound for England had their holds full of barley, wheat, oats, etc. which was how the Irish tenants paid their rent. At first, The English government paid no attention to the reports of widespread starving, thinking it was just another tale of woe from Ireland(Insert the little boy who cried wolf here). Then, after they realized how bad the problem was, they did give aid to the Irish peasants, but it was misguided aid. First, the government proposed to help the pesants through public works, but the problem was the Irish need food, not money. Second, they funded the public works through the landowners, who to lessen their burden, evicted many of their tenants, worsening the problem.

The important point which has not been mentioned is the amount of food other than potatoes being exported out of Ireland during the period of the early 1840s. There was no famine, and this is made clear by shipping documents showing tonnes of meat and other foods leaving Ireland for among other desstinations, British Soldiers in the Crimea.

John Derbyshire's article is quite fair, but he makes a good job of missing the point that the British government, though organised enough to run an empire, were basically not too bothered about the catholic peasents in Ireland starving to death. This is nothing to do with not having the right systems in place to distribute relief.

He also puts forward a case of the charitable British who deferred rent payments from the Irish. I am highly sceptical about this. Evictions were common and the idea of land owners being so obliging to the starving Irish does not sound very 140's to me.

"They are going. They are going with a vengeance. Soon a Celt will be as rare in Ireland as a Red Indian on the streets of Manhattan. Law has ridden through, it has been taught with bayonets, and interpreted with ruin. Townships levelled to the ground, straggling columns of exiles, workhouses multiplied, and still crowded, express the determination of the Legislature to rescue Ireland from its slovenly old barbarism, and to plant there the institutions of this more civilised land."

Extract from the London Times 1847

The famine left hatred behind. Between Ireland and England the memory of what was done and endured has lain like a sword. Other famines followed, as other famines had gone before, but it is the terrible years of the Great Hunger which are remembered, and only just beginning to be forgiven.
steve

I don't think it's possible to draw conclusions from looking at the famine in isolation. You have to consider literally centuries that preceeded it, and what led to dependance on a single crop. But to say the english government tried to save the irish really gives them credit they absolutely do not deserve, and is really an insult to one of the greatest recorded genocides in history. To say "the boy who cried wolf" is also insulting, there had been many famines prior to that famous one of 1847, some even more severe. If the Irish were crying for help to deaf ears, it certainly wasn't uncalled for. Also look up taxation in Ireland during the famine - literally taxing the half-starved to pay for the starved. Then talk about ineptitude.

To say that there was an excessive amount of food materials exported from Ireland during the famine is extremely misleading. Do not forget that during the famine Ireland was under BRITISH rule and these british enforcers of "justice" were the ones feeding the soldiers of imperial armies around the world with Irish exports while the Irish starved. In towns around ireland there are folk memories of british "soldiers" shooting livestock in the fields in an attempt to prevent the irish from having meat.Her Majest the (famine) Queen Victoria was fully aware of these atrocities and condoned it, maybe because 8 million Irish people was a few too many to have a mere 60 miles off the welsh coast. The English and later British armies had spent hundreds of years trying to control ireland and failed, so the next best thing would be to eradicate the filth of ireland and superimpose a mostly British "civilised" population, however , that failed too.

You can't look at the famine in isolation. With regard to the alleged exaggeration of the Irish treatment under British rule at that time, has anyone ever heard of the penal law system?? Seems so impossible for an Englishman to accept any wrongdoing to Ireland that he'll do anything to explain it away, and accept only the facts that will help him to do this. That in itself is a further dig at the Irish. It's not bad enough to subject them to centuries of torment, but now we must blame it all on them and make ourselves out to be the victim. We haven't humiliated them enough.

God I've never read such rubbish in all my life.

Some idiot above claims the aid was in the region of 2bn. Let's put the British aid and aid from other countries into perpsective. It fell a long way short of the food aid sent by Ireland after the great fire of London and it was sent to the landowners not those who were dying from starvation.

I also find it barbaric that the food being grown on the land was being removed under armed guard from the country while hundreds of 1000s were dying. The fact some food was sent back can hardly have it classified as aid.

The landowners did not distribute the food except to protect their own interests and used the deaths and starvation to evict tenants who were too sick to work, with the end result of increasing their own wealth.

It also took almost 2 whole years after the famine had started before the English acted.

Actually we dont talk about the famine much in Ireland, we dont need to, England's deserved reputation as a barbaric colonial power is known by all and well deserved.

The unfortunate truth is that the British used the opportunity to strengthen their grip on power and were unmerciful in their calous disregard for the lives of those dying.

This ridiculous notion of victimhood, is quite amusing. We have asked England for nothing because we want nothing from them. We asked before from many countries and got nothing except for pitiful help from the Spanish and French. Thousands of Irishmen died to create the U.S. the sacrifice was never reciprocated. Ireland has learnt to depend on itself and can stand on its own two feet.

The article quoted for us to read does nothing more than address the jingoistic bigotry of the so called Irish in the states, of which most Irish people have a huge disdain and contempt for.

The article at times in factually incorrect, particularly in reference to the suspension of rents. It is well documented that landowners fast-tracked the legal process to have starving tenants evicted.

The Great Famine as it ironically known as, is a stain on British history which no amount of blame shifting can remove. I would also point out it is hardly unique in English history before and even after.

I would also refer to the British and US governments policy of not accepting Jewish immigrants at the beginning of WWII - that was an equally shameful act.

MMAAA

The famine was awful as we know,aid by charitys and others was sent,and nothings said of the hundreds of thousands of irish britain took in ,and the hundreds of thousands that settled in england,live,work,and live peacefully here in their adopted land.

england owes Ireland compensation for the cruel, heartless treatment of innocent Irish people. Until england admits full responsibility for over 1 million deaths by way of genocide, and pays compensation to Ireland, england will never be forgiven. Most english people hate Irish people, but they do not even know why they hate the Irish, because english people have no reason to hate the Irish. All actions of the IRA are totally justified because of the hundreds of years of misery and murder committed against them by the british. The hatred that the Irish have for the english is absolutely justified. The sad thing is, still to this day, england is full of ignorant and arrogant people who thrive of being proud to be english, but have not been educated about the truth of their so called british empire who inflicted so much pain and misery to innocent people living their lives in their own countries. Shame on england. What goes around eventually comes around. One day england will get what it deserves!

Danny, you are so wrong. Not in your disdain for how Britain has treated Ireland in the past, but your assumption that most English people hate the Irish. I absolutely love the Irish and Ireland, and know many people who feel the same way. The Irish are a special race. When I'm there I feel more comfortable than I feel anywhere else on this earth. I love it with a passion. As an English person, I'm deeply ashamed of how my country has behaved in the past. It makes me sad, and it makes me angry. You are certainly right with what you say about education - many English people have no understanding whatever of the history. Since I made it my business to study Irish history, I can fully understand what drove people to create, and join, the IRA, but I can never say that all their actions were justified - it's always wrong to kill innocent people, and doing it for vengeance is just destructive and does no favours to any cause.

But whatever, I would rather have your history, than mine.

Danny, you are so wrong. Not in your disdain for how Britain has treated Ireland in the past, but your assumption that most English people hate the Irish. I absolutely love the Irish and Ireland, and know many people who feel the same way. The Irish are a special race. When I'm there I feel more comfortable than I feel anywhere else on this earth. I love it with a passion. As an English person, I'm deeply ashamed of how my country has behaved in the past. It makes me sad, and it makes me angry. You are certainly right with what you say about education - many English people have no understanding whatever of the history. Since I made it my business to study Irish history, I can fully understand what drove people to create, and join, the IRA, but I can never say that all their actions were justified - it's always wrong to kill innocent people, and doing it for vengeance is just destructive and does no favours to any cause.

But whatever, I would rather have your history, than mine.

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