During the 1500s, Ireland was torn apart by constant warfare between the country’s English rulers and the Irish inhabitants. Ireland farmers had a lot of trouble producing food for their families to eat because of the potato that had just been introduced to Ireland.
Ireland was the first country in Europe where the potato became a major food source. By the 1800s, the potato was so important in Ireland that some of the poorer parts of the country relied entirely on the potato for food. Because the potato was so abundant and could feed so many people, it allowed the population of Ireland to grow very quickly.
Time In America
Then in 1845 it happened, the biggest fear hit Ireland and suddenly became reality. In 1844 a strange disease was reported to have attacked the potato crop in Canada. By September of 1845, it had made its appearance in Ireland. The disease attacked the potatoes as they grew in the fields and up to half of the crop was destroyed.
Modern historians and statisticians estimate that between 500,000 and 1,100,000 died. Many historians suggest the death-toll was in the region of 700,000 to 800,000. The Irleanders fled to America as they knew they would never see Ireland again.
The main reason everybody left was because if they stayed it would be all doom and gloom, living in poverty with disease. Non of the Irelanders enjoyed the travel to America and called it the "American Wake" but over time they grew to like it.