Don't you think it's dangerous for all of Ireland to be so dependent on one food source?
The 'Potato Blight'
In Ireland, the potato became very popular because it produced more food per acre than any other crops. No one knows how the potato ended up in Ireland but some believe it was the famous English explorer, Sir Walter Raleigh while others think that the potato washed up on the beaches from the shipwreck, Spanish Armada.
Effects of the Potato Famine
The potato caused the country’s population to increase from less than 3 million to 8 million. Some people tried to warn others that it was dangerous for so many people to depend on one crop but no one listened.
Leaving from Liverpool
In the harvest of 1845, nearly half of the potato crop was destroyed by the strange disease, ‘potato blight’. The blight was the fungus Phytophthora infestans which turn potatoes into a soggy and inedible mess that smells badly. This blight caused a famine in Ireland.
Life for the emigrants when they arrived in America
Modern historians and statisticians estimate that between 500,000 and 1,100,000 Irish people died from the famine. Over one million Irish migrated, mostly to America and Canada plus Australia and NZ. But many died on the traveling boats because the conditions were so crowded and dirty. (This is why the ships were called“coffin ships”).
Many Irish emigrants for the USA left through Liverpool. People from all over Ireland leaving for the USA met in the Liverpool waterfront where, in a sense, all of Ireland’s starving people met for the first time and witnessed their common situation. Rags, disease, and the ravages of hunger were among the signs attached to them.
Though life in Ireland was cruel, emigrating to America was not a joyful event and was referred to as the “American Wake”. Those who pursued this path did so only because they knew their future in Ireland would only be more poverty, disease, and English oppression. Soon America became their dream and some described it as the "Golden Door."