The Irish Famine

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This essay will explore the causes and effects of the Irish Famine of 1845, which had great contribution to the decline in Irish population in the nineteenth century. It is based on the accounts of the Irish famine of 1845, written by Cecil Woodham-Smith and Mary E. Daly.
Both authors give special attention to the population growth during the pre-famine years, regarding it as an aggravating factor contributing to the devastating power of the famine; however, they focus on distinct events and facts as for the reasons for this huge population increase.
Smith gives special attention to the fact that Ireland had been oppressed by England, which kept the country in precarious situation under unfair rules and gave the Irish no rights or guarantees.
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(Smith 1962, p 30) According to Smith, the reason for the population growth was due to the Irish birth rate that rose caused by the decline in marriage age. Because of poverty, people got married early so they could find in their partners an extra support in times of struggle, therefore, there would be a rise in the birth rate allowing the population to grow. She also highlights the nutritional values of the potatoes, as another contributor to the population growth. Even though scholars have given these explanations in the past, Daly claims that they are no longer accepted. Recent works focus their attention on the decline of death rate. From the seventeenth and early eighteen century, Ireland had been through several disastrous events, which contributed to the increase of death rate. Whereas the wars in the 1640s, 1680s and the plague in 1652 were great killers, other types of diseases and fevers also had their contribution to this increase and “a succession of disastrous harvest towards the end of that decade culminated in a major famine during the years of 1739-41”. (Daly, 1986, p 3) Hence, based on the views of most European scholars, Daly claims that the end of these events allowed the death rate to decrease ending in the pre-famine population…show more content…
They were concerned about Ireland’s perpetual revolutionary behaviour and troubled over-population. They deplored the potato dependency regarding it as being the result of the Irish’s own imprudence and laziness.
The Irish Poor Law Act that had been passed in 1838 would not offer the Irish many benefits. It was more concerned with preventing them from going to England, than alleviating their sufferings. (Smith, 1962)
According to Daly, suggestions for introduction of some poor law could encourage improvidence among the poor. In Ireland, it was seen as means to perpetuate land sub-division and poverty. While in England, the workhouses became a form of relief, in Ireland it was opposed as it would cost too much. The idea was rejected in order to make the poor work instead of becoming idle.
According to the Census of Ireland Commissioners of 1851, (Smith,1962, p38), the potato crop had failed twenty-four times from the year 1739 to 1844. It was likely to fail again, but this fact caused no
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