In September of 1945 a disease struck the potatoes which is commonly referred to as "potato blight," this disease originally effected about one third to half of all the potatoes grown. Although this disease came from South and North America the soggy fields of Ireland were a perfect breeding ground for the blight to spread rapidly, leaving all the potatoes poisoned. The fields were covered in black rotten stalks and the smell was a putrid rotting that overtook anything within miles of a potato field. The blight was so detrimental to the Irish as potatoes were the only source of food for the majority of the people. One story I read, was about the potato farmers that lived in the northwest. This particular community relied on each other and potatoes. They were the poor of the poor, eating one potato meal a day and going into the local town to beg. Then the potato blight hit and they were now completely without food, and no one to go to for help.
The British government was in denial about the depth of the famine. They failed to send aid for many years and demanded exports of the previous mentioned crops, some were reported saying "it was a doing of God, they have done something to deserve this so let them be." So much of the food was shipped elsewhere instead of feeding the people Ireland. An Irish was quoted saying "The Almighty Indeed sent the Potato Blight but the English Created the Famine."
People were starving and diseases such as cholera was rampant in the country, People were dying in record numbers and the government did nothing but evict and let people starve. By 1841 the population of Ireland was at 8 million, (the current population of Ireland is around 5 million) It is said that 250,000 to 1,000,000 people died during the famine. Many were fortunate to immigrate to other countries but many starved and died of disease.
To try and combat the extreme poverty and starvation local workhouses were built. There were 168 in Ireland What is a work house? That my friends is where my final point is, and you will have to wait until the next post...