The potato was a major food source in Ireland, not only providing them with food, but also providing a small income for farmers, by selling their best potatoes. Some of the poorer parts of Ireland completely relied on potatoes as their source of food. With the increase of food available, Ireland's population grew very quickly, from less three million to over eight million in 1840. Some people warned others that it wasn't safe to be so dependent on one crop, but their warnings were ignored.
The New World
The Irish ate potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so if anything happened to their potato crops, they would have no food to eat. In 1844, a disease had hit potato crops in Canada. In 1845, the disease had spread to Ireland, destroying nearly half of their potato crops. Many potatoes turned black and rotten. This was known as the potato blight in Ireland, which caused a famine.
With not enough potatoes to be able to support a rapidly growing population, people began to starve, and their main source of income was greatly decreased, therefore affecting their daily lives.
Many of the Irish emigrated to America, which was known as the New World, a land of abundance and happiness, because they knew that if they stayed in Ireland, their lives would continue in poverty and disease.
Many died on board ships travelling to America, due to the dirty conditions. People estimate that approximately 700,000 to 800,000 people died. The ships that carried the Irish were later known as "coffin ships" due to this.
Many of the Irish left through Liverpool to leave for the New World. This was where many people from all over Ireland came together and saw all the hungry, dirty people that were desperate for a better life.