The Great Hunger |

Shopping Cart -

Your cart is currently empty.
Upgrade to today
for only an extra Cxx.xx

You get:

plus This issue of xxxxxxxxxxx.
plus Instant access to the latest issue of 300+ of our top selling titles.
plus Unlimited access to 26000+ back issues
plus No contract or commitment. If you decide that PocketmagsPlus is not for you, you can cancel your monthly subscription online at any time. Auto-renews at $9.99 per month, unless cancelled.
Upgrade Now for $9.99 Learn more
This website use cookies and similar technologies to improve the site and to provide customised content and advertising. By using this site, you agree to this use. To learn more, including how to change your cookie settings, please view our Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Read anywhere Read anywhere
Ways to pay Pocketmags Payment Types
Trusted site
At Pocketmags you get
Secure Billing
Great Offers
Web & App Reader
Gifting Options
Loyalty Points

The Great Hunger

Britain’s relationship with Ireland is peppered with drama but, writes Pat Kinsella, one episode in modern history more than any other proved a watershed moment: the 1845-49 Potato Famine

In less than a decade in the mid-19th century, the population of Ireland plummeted from 8.25 million to just over 6.5 million. Many were forced to flee their famine-struck homeland – then as much a part of the United Kingdom as Cornwall is today – in dangerously overloaded ‘coffin ships’. The rest perished. The story of how a million deaths from mostly preventable disease and hunger happened on the doorstep of the world’s wealthiest country still shocks.

BEREFT, HUNGRY, ABANDONED This figure is one several sculptures of starvation-stricken men and women, trudging alongside the River Liffey in the centre of Dublin – her haunted expression says it all

The collective impact of the Irish Potato Famine, the British government’s reaction to it, and the resultant exodus of emigrants was profound and long lasting. The diaspora of Irish people and Irish culture, all over the globe, not to mention the famine itself, generated a focussed fury that’s been articulated in nationalist politics, poetry and folk songs ever since, and remains a thread in the fabric of the modern country. Ireland continued to haemorrhage its human resources long after the famine ended, and the legacy of the Great Hunger – famine roads, ghost villages and memorials – can be seen across the land.

THE EYES HAVE IT A US poster warns of the tell-tale indicators of blight setting in


Ireland was brought into the United Kingdom by the 1800 Act of Union. The politicians who represented the country in Westminster, the vast majority of whom were wealthy, Protestant landlords with Irish holdings, were very often based in England. Most rent collected from the poor Catholic tenants – who comprised four-fifths of Ireland's population – went straight out of the country via oft-unscrupulous middlemen and into the coffers of these absentee landlords. The profits from almost everything produced in Ireland also travelled in the same direction.

Cattle farming took place, and crops such as corn were grown, but almost all of the exportable food produced in Ireland was transported to mainland Britain. Dairy and corn-based products sold in Ireland were well beyond the meagre means of the vast majority, thanks to Britain’s controversial Corn Laws. These imposed tariffs on imported goods and kept prices of locally produced food high, for the benefit of the landowning class. Increasingly, the Irish became almost wholly dependent on potatoes. They were cheap, easy to grow and calorie dense but, as it turned out, genetically weak and prone to disease.

Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of BBC History Revealed Magazine - March 2018
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Issue - March 2018
Or 499 points
Getting free sample issues is easy, but we need to add it to an account to read, so please follow the instructions to read your free issue today.
Email Address
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 3.15 per issue
Or 4099 points
6 Month Digital Subscription
Only $ 4.15 per issue
Or 2699 points
Monthly Digital Subscription
Only $ 4.61 per issue
Or 499 points

View Issues

About BBC History Revealed Magazine

In this month’s issue… Who killed JFK? We know Lee Harvey Oswald pulled a trigger, but was he a lone gunman or part of a larger conspiracy? Plus: Elizabeth’s I love rival; the Irish Potato Famine; Picasso’s most prolific year; the medieval knight who’s travels made him more famous than Marco Polo; the Top 10 art controversies and the legend of the Bermuda Triangle.