Irish History

Facts About An Gorta Mór (The Great Irish Hunger)

Today, the term ‘Famine’ is generally used to describe the terrible period in human and Irish history, in which Ireland lost over two million people. Many of us understand that it wasn’t a ‘Famine’ because the British Crown and their puppets in Ireland had the ability to feed the Irish people. An Gorta Mór, or ‘Great Hunger’ seems like a more appropriate term considering that the soil didn’t necessarily fail Ireland. Even yet, some have argued that the term ‘Genocide’ is also appropriate considering that the Crown could have prevented it mass casualties.

Nevertheless, Ireland lost 2 million people during An Gorta Mór. The potato did fail, so the blight existed, but it didn’t cause the deaths and immigration of these 2 million people. Cormac O’Grada sheds light on this point by offering some important points in his book Ireland Before and After the Famine: Explorations in Economic History, 1800-1925 (1994). These points include the amount of goods the Crown shipped out of Ireland, instead of giving it back to the Irish people:

1845 – 3,251,907 quarters (8 bushels=1 quarter) of corn exported from Ireland to England
1845 – 257,257 sheep exported to Britain
1846 – 480,827 swine exported to Britain
1846 – 186,383 Oxen exported to England
1847 – 4,000 ships carrying peas, beans, rabbits, salmon, honey and potatoes left Ireland for English ports
1847 – 9,992 Irish cattle sent to England
1847 – 4,000 Horses and Ponies sent to England
1847 – Approximately 1,000,000 gallons of butter sent to England
1847 – Approximately 1,700,000 gallons of grain derived alcohol sent to England
1847 – 400,000 Irish people died due to starvation

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