The Great Famine of Ireland and Great Britain Research Paper by Research Group

The Great Famine of Ireland and Great Britain
An examination of the role of the British government, society and economics in bringing about and dealing with the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1849 and its consequences.
# 26172 | 3,751 words | 13 sources | MLA | 2002 | US
Published on Apr 27, 2003 in History (British)

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This paper discusses the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1849 which stemmed from a then unknown fungus disease, phytophtora infestans, which ruined most of the Irish potato crops in 1845 and 1846. It looks at how British policy toward the relief of the misery and suffering caused by the potato blights was hamstrung by a rigid, narrow and basically inhuman economic doctrine which served the interests of the governing classes in Great Britain at the expense of the starving and diseased masses of Ireland afflicted as a result of the Famine.

Introduction and Summary Conclusions
Development of the Potato Monoculture and Obstacles to Reform
Peel's Response to the Famine, 1845-46
Failures of the Whigs after Mid-1846
British Society and Irish Relief
Upper and Middle Class Arrogance and Indifference
Overall Assessment

From the Paper:

"The first potato blight which struck the harvest of 1845 caught political leaders and government officials by surprise because previous potato crop failures had been localized, and, according to Percival, "the potato crop had never failed for two years running" (42). Ireland had been relatively prosperous in the late 18th century. It benefited from the strong demand and high prices for agricultural products during the Napoleonic wars. However, according to Whelan, after 1815, "agricultural prices halved" and "the linen industry was dislocated by the advent of factory-spinning and weaving" (25). Almost all of Ireland other than Ulster remained agricultural. In 1801, Parliament at Westminster destroyed the last vestige of Irish autonomy by abolishing the Irish Parliament under the Act of Union. "

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