The Great Irish Famine

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The Great Famine devastated Ireland in the mid 1800’s. At least one million people died and many more suffered due to poverty and sickness. The main factor that contributed to this event was the potato blight, which infected the potato crop and the Irish who heavily depended on it as their staple food. But what about the other factors? The blight was not the only factor that contributed to Ireland’s poor state at the time. The economy and government also had a part. Cormac O’ Grada’s Black ’47 and Beyond: The Great Irish Famine in History, Economy and Memory, C.H. Oldham’s Industrial Ireland under Free Trade, Thomas A. Boylan and Timothy P. Foley’s Political Economy and Colonial Ireland, and Chris Williams’s A Companion to the 19th Century…show more content…
Boylan and Timothy P. Foley’s Political Economy and Colonial Ireland dissent from Oldham. They claim that the Great Famine was a critical turning point for the political economy and its method of laissez-faire. They also claim that the decline of Ireland’s political economy was due to the difference between Great Britain and Ireland. Allie Stopford Greene said, “Englishmen could not understand Irish conditions. The political economy they advocated for their own country had no relation to Ireland.” (Boylan and Foley, p. 8). This meant that England imposed their policies without understanding the Irish economy. Ireland had to be governed by “‘Irish ideas’” (Boylan and Foley, p. viii)). Their “idea” was laissez faire. In 1847, “… the Irish Confederation published a booklet, edited by John Mitchel, entitled Irish Political Economy. Mitchel starkly contrasted ‘Irish’ political economy with what he witheringly called ‘English’ or ‘Famine’ political economy. He wrote that ‘English Professors of political economy have, by perverting and misapplying the principles of that science, endeavoured to prove to us, that to part with our bread and cattle is profitable ‘commerce’ and that our trading intercourse with their country enriches us immensely whatever the ignorant and starving Irish may say and feel to the contrary’” (Boylan and Foley, p. 8) Mitchel means that the Irish have no say in what is right for their economy because the Irish are “ignorant”. There were many…show more content…
George O’Brien, a nationalist, said the damaged economy and loss of independent government dated from the Union. The economy was successful in the late 18th century, where Ireland had the growth of its own parliament. But the Union deprived Ireland the ability to develop an industrial base which could not compete with Britain. It was only until the end of the Napoleonic Wars Ireland’s “watershed” period in economic development came. Prior to 1845, the Malthusian subsistence crisis was unavoidable and Ireland would have declined either

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