Joyanna Adams

Nobody's Opinion

Nobody Remembers the Potato Famine

Nobody Remembers

Every country has it’s ‘divisions’ and one of the most famous known round the world is the division between the Irish and the British. They have hated each other for centuries.Irish potato famine

There’s a long line of reasons for it, most of which happened long before the potato famine, which to the rest of the world made no sense. Why didn’t they just go catch some fish?

To show the hatred between the Irish and the British, I’ve included a short passage from the book “All Facts Considered.” by Kee Malesky

The Irish Famine (in Gaelic, An Gorta Mor, “The Great Hunger”) had a terrible impact on the country: a million people died of starvation or disease, and at least another million emigrated. In the Mid-1800s, Ireland was “wretched, rebellious and utterly dependent on the potato.” When blight hit the potato crop beginning in 1845, the people were devastated. Little was done by the British government to alleviate their suffering: indeed, merchants and landlords actually exported food from Ireland during the worst years of the famine. Some Protestant groups offered to feed the hungry- if they would convert from Catholicism: Those who did were called ‘soupers’, because they traded their souls for a bowl of soup. British economist and Oxford professor Nassau William Senior wrote at the time that the famine “would not kill more than one million people, and that would scarcely be enough to do any good.”

Because of that famine, America got boatloads of Irish who ended up mostly in the democratic party.Irish logo

And I’m sure, my British friend amfortas would say: “Serves you right— Better you take them than us!.”

Nevertheless, I’ve never met an American Irish man I didn’t like. In fact, my best friend is Irish.

Therefore, I’m certainly not fit to meet the Queen.

(Take it away amfortas, if you’re out there.)


July 10, 2014 - Posted by | British, Uncategorized | , ,


  1. “Why didn’t they just go catch some fish?”

    We often see this sort of statement, particularly from the more virulently bigoted anti-Irish elements in Northern Ireland and Scotland, for whom hatred of those of us who call ourselves Irish is an indispensible element of their worldview.

    It’s one of the most asinine questions imaginable, as two seconds’ worth of actual thought will reveal.

    Ms Adams, I invite you to try – just for the hell of it – the following thought exercise. Imagine yourself in a society of 9 million other people, a sizeable proportion of whom are starving and destitute:

    1. Starve youself for a bit. Don’t just cut back on food – actually starve yourself completely for, say a couple of weeks. Better still, do as the starving Irish did, live for several months by chewing grass (after youve eaten your horse, your cow, your pig, your dog, and any local wildlife you can get your hands on, of course).
    2. Dress yourself in rags. You will have sold any wearable clothes you had to get a little money for food.
    3. Now that you’re starving, destitute, virtually naked, and completely enervated from hunger, go buy a fishing boat and some nets:
    4. Catch loads of fish. Easy peasy.

    Pardon me if I’m a bit dumbfounded at your lack of insight into how famines happen, what they’re like to live through and what their long-term effects are. All famines have their roots in politics – as true of Ireland as of Ukraine, China, or Ethiopia. The political master in Ireland then was Britain.

    In our case, the population dropped by an entire third, from famine, its attendant diseases, and flight from its horror. It would be equivalent to 100 million deaths in the America of today. Today, three-quarters of all people of Irish ancestry live elsewhere than in Ireland, because of it.

    I assure you it is not forgotten in the country which it eviscerated, demographically, socially, culturally, economically and linguistically. As our fellow-victims of Britain the Candian Québécois might say, “nous nous souviendrons”.


    Comment by Tuskar Rock (@TuskarRock) | August 11, 2014 | Reply

    • Gee…I didn’t mean to upset you so…but I did wonder. If I was starving I think I would go out and kill a few rabbits, or eat some bugs, or fish, or whatever I could find. I know a woman who survived a Russian prison camp, and they were starving, walked for miles (no shoes in the snow) and yet…she is still alive. I see her everyday.   And I agree with you, most of the famines have been caused by governments. Even people in America right now are starving.     Of course, according to what you read, the Brits caused this horrible thing right? But, I do know a very bright Brit, who would disagree with that, and he is much smarter than I. Maybe he should put this up to his Mensa buddies.   You have made me see my mistake in that flippant remark. Just because one individual could be resourceful, does not make a whole people have those same resources. Human nature, is by historical accounts…is easily manipulated.   So thanks, but be rest assured, I still love the Irish. Despite the famine, they are still here!   Now, lets hope the Jews survive.    


      Comment by Joyanna Adams | August 11, 2014 | Reply

      • The horror of the Great Famine, as it’s called in Ireland, was as bad as the horror of other famines.

        Its root cause was the system of land ownership in Ireland:- a peasant tenantry, renting small landholdings on massive estates, surviving on subsistence farming, and reliant on a single very nutritious product for sustenance: the potato. They paid their rents with the profit from that farming, from milk, butter, beef and bacon production. Visitors from abroad remarked oin the appalling and inhuman living conditions. Ireland became known as a “nation of beggars”.

        The land ownership system had been imposed militarily on Ireland over 200 years by Britain in a process of dispossession of the native Irish, confiscation of their lands, and handover to favoured Engish people instead. A landowning, alien class who mostly lived overseas in England and extracted the maximum possible rental income from the people was created.

        Hope I’m not boring you here. Subsistence farming is no picnic. It usually involves extreme levels of poverty and deprivation, and still it exists in many parts of the world today.

        A potato disease (“blight”) wiped out the potato every year from 1845 to 1852. The population survived for a while on their farm animals, then their seed potatoes, then on local wildlife. Soon these were exhausted. Destitute and starving, they died or fled in their millions, many to the US which offered some hope. Even when the famine was over, they continued to flee. The famine also bankrupted the exploiters, the landowning class, and no tears can be shed for them. It also caused the Irish to loathe and despise England which had brought the whole situation about in the first place; little wonder.

        Worst of all in my view, it destroyed the self-belief and the confidence of the Irish in themselves.

        Today there’s about 70 million Americans of Irish extraction. The population of Ireland, north and south, is now 6 million – about the same as the city of Philadelphia. We should be about 15 to 20 millions, at least. A nation’s wealth is actually its people and you in America now have ours.

        I wish you well.


        Comment by Tuskar Rock (@TuskarRock) | August 12, 2014

      • Irish Population. 6 million in Ireland: 106 million outside singing about it.


        Comment by Amfortas | August 12, 2014

      • Thanks for the history lesson!   And yes, America has been richer for the Irish that did come over…   You are so right.


        Comment by Joyanna Adams | August 12, 2014

      • Irritating, isn’t it?


        Comment by Tuskar Rock (@TuskarRock) | August 12, 2014

  2. First: Snopercod, your comments NEVER offend. Historically speaking, you are absolutely right. China and Russia alone have killed most of their people BY starving them.

    On a bigger scale, I don’t think too many people realize, that the global warming movement is all about getting control of all food, water, and land.

    Look how George W. Bush mandated that our corn be made into ethanol. Millions in third world countries, starved from that ridiculous decision.
    (A McCoy! Any relations to the real ones?)

    Second: Amforats, I’m glad you weren’t sent to Ireland. God has put you in your proper place…in Australia, with the Catholics you like.


    Comment by Joyanna Adams | July 12, 2014 | Reply

  3. People aren’t stupid. Left to their own devices, they will figure out a way to survive a calamity like the great famine. But when you see millions of people starving anywhere in the world, you can be assured that their government was primarily responsible for their deaths either by 1. preventing them from doing what they needed to do to survive, or 2. forcing them into a situation where it was impossible to survive. When I look at the history of Ireland, it only confirms my belief that governments are the prime cause of famines.

    First, England imposed the “Penal Laws” which (from Wikipedia) “forbade Irish Catholics from purchasing or leasing land; from voting, from holding political office; from living in a corporate town or within 5 mi (8.0 km) of a corporate town, from obtaining education, from entering a profession, and from doing many other things necessary for a person to succeed and prosper in Irish society at the time.”

    Then there were the “Corn Laws” which slapped huge import duties on all cereal grains to protect he absentee English landlords who owned farms in Ireland. This had the dual effect of causing bread to be much more expensive for the peasanats, and also making it impossible for anyone to import grain from other countries, The Corn Laws explain why grain was being exported from Ireland while the population was starving.

    As I understand it, there were no property rights in Ireland at the time; The British or their agents pretty much owned all the land and the Irish were just “tenants”. The plots of land they were allowed to farm (mostly 1-5 acres) were too small to grow anything other potatoes on which to survive.

    As was the case in Ukraine, China, Somalia, Sudan, Cambodia, and the Soviet Union, the Great Famine of Ireland was clearly a government-caused disaster.

    I have an unopened bottle of Feckin in my liquor cabinet. Some evening I may just open it and raise a toast to the victims of the Potato Famine and to my McCoy ancestors from County Donegal.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by snopercod | July 11, 2014 | Reply

    • Again, context. The Catholics in England and Scotland were forbidden just many ‘rights’ as the Irish that other non-catholics had. It still remains today in England that Catholics have fewer public office rights than non-catholics. There are Elected Offices forbidden to Catholics, including the Prime Minister job. It is nothing to do with being Irish. It IS to do with the ‘Reformation’ where Catholics were stripped of everything by the newly-formed Protestantism. Pretty well every Anglican Cathedal, so redolent of ‘Englishness’ was built by and stolen from Catholics.

      Land ownership was just as ‘anti-Catholic’ in England as in Ireland. Farming had nothing to do with being Irish either. There were many in the rest of Britain affected by ‘Corn Laws’ and such.

      It is not wise to refer to Wikipedia as a primary source. Nor is it reasonable to omit relevant facts just to make one small sectional group out to be victims on the basis of nationality when it is not the simple case.


      Comment by Amfortas | July 11, 2014 | Reply

      • I hope my ignorant comments didn’t offend anybodys’ religious beliefs. My only point was that governments are usually the primary cause of famines. I’m just glad that I live in America where the government is forbidden from favoring one religion over another (at least in theory).


        Comment by snopercod | July 11, 2014

  4. I have Irish blood in me, Joyanna. Just a little to be sure, to be sure,. Begorrah. Not only that but I am a Catholic too. So do try to see the contexts a little less severely.

    The ‘ Irish famine’ was a potato blight which affected all of the British Isles. There was severe starvation in England too at the time. But the Irish like to play the victim of the British rather than of nature

    As for the furphy that crops were ‘exported’ to England, well, so were crops exported from England, to many places including Ireland – which was part of Britain. The crops were the property of people, not ‘The People’. Just as the contents of your fridge or vaggie patch are your property to distribute as you deem fit. Britain wasn’t ‘socialist’ then, as it has become now.

    There were many, many tragic circumstances throughout history which affected many more than simply the Irish. But most people do not go on about them continually, using such times long ago as an excuse for present nasty behaviour. Well, most don’t. Feminists do though.

    As I said, I have a smidgen of Irish blood and am a Catholic. The Irish Catholics are a very odd bunch with more in common with fundementalists in your own country. A bloody nuicance and far too noisy for the rest of us.

    I was of the era and in the military at the very time that English troops were sent to Ireland ( the north – Bristish) to protect the Catholic minority from the ‘Loyalist’ majority. Fortunately i was never sent there. The ‘loyalists’ were fighting back against IRA thugs and terrorists. It was the same catholic mob of loonies that opened fire on the troops when they arrived to keep the peace. It was the same minority that harboured and became IRA sympathisers and gunmen, bombers and killers of families. The same mob who exploded bombs in shopping places. Indiscriminate murderers just like the Muslim fanatics of today.

    Their excuse? The Irish famine, amongst other quite lunatic claims of angst. Your ‘Democrats’ have fine bedfellows. But Americans should sleep with at least one eye open. I expect YOU to have both eyes open.


    Comment by Amfortas | July 11, 2014 | Reply

    • You seem so contented in your prejudice-ridden world, sustained by spurious propaganda masquerading as fact, that it would truly be a shame to refute this particular load of bigoted twaddle.

      I will say this though: Irish people in Ireland don’t use the word “Begorrah”.


      Comment by Tuskar Rock (@TuskarRock) | August 11, 2014 | Reply

      • It would seem that prejudices, propaganda and hatreds go hand in hand. The IRA are a fine example. This harping on about the potato blight is not a British effort at agitprop.


        Comment by Amfortas | August 11, 2014

    • I can’t speak for the Nationalist people in Northern Ireland, nor for the appalling treatment they had to put up with for 70-odd years, nor for the so-called “Irish Republican Army” (which of course was neither republican nor an army); they can all do that for themselves.

      And nor do Irish people in the Republic nof Ireland “hate” the English, albeit they might be considered as having more than sufficient reason to by any reasonable and dispassionate observer. I, for example don’t “hate” English people; decent enough lot, many of them, though tending to be more than a little xenophobic. And they have a unattractive tendency to pompously inform their former colonies that they invented civilisation and good government.

      Nor are the facts of the Great Famine “agitprop”, much as apologists for Britain’s despicable behaviour in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, in Ireland and elsewhere, might like to pretend. It happened; it ruined this nation utterly; we live with the irremediable consequences here and now. To pretend it was less than it was, that it should be forgotten, that those tipped into mass graves or buried in fields for want of better accommodation should be ignored, would be dishonest. Do you recommend dishonesty? Hope not.

      Nor is this event known in Ireland as “The Potato Famine”; naming it thus is itself a clever bit of British agitprop; “let’s blame the potato, chaps, it’s all the potato’s fault”. Though I suppose it makes a welcome change from blaming the Irish themselves for the famine, as used to be done. “Why didn’t they just go catch some fish?” for example. The idiots!

      Re “harping on”: you seem to want to believe it’s an everyday topic of conversation in Ireland; well it’s not. It is however a defining and cataclysmic event in our history, plain and simple. All nations have such defining events; Britain and America are continually harping on about some defining historical event or other, and we all politely put up with them. You can fill in the blanks yourself.


      Comment by Tuskar Rock (@TuskarRock) | August 11, 2014 | Reply

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