The Great Hunger, potato blight, mass starvation, famine, ruins, Ireland, 1845-1852

The Great Hunger of 1845 to 1852 when potato blight turned Ireland into a land of mass starvation, emigration and abandoned homes and fields. To this day, the Irish landscape is pitted with famine-era ruins and undulating potato fields.

The Great Hunger

The Great Famine (Irishan Gorta Mór[anˠ ˈgɔɾˠt̪ˠa mˠoːɾˠ]) or the Great Hunger was a period of mass starvation, disease, and emigration in Ireland between 1845 and 1852.[1] It is sometimes referred to, mostly outside Ireland, as the Irish Potato Famine, because about two-fifths of the population was solely reliant on this cheap crop for a number of historical reasons.[2][3] During the famine, approximately 1 million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland,[4] causing the island’s population to fall by between 20% and 25%.[5]

The proximate cause of famine was Phytophthora infestans, a potato disease commonly known as potato blight,[6] which ravaged potato crops throughout Europe during the 1840s. However, the impact in Ireland was disproportionate, as one third of the population was dependent on the potato for a range of ethnic, religious, political, social, and economic reasons, such as land acquisitionabsentee landlords, and the Corn Laws, which all contributed to the disaster to varying degrees and remain the subject of intense historical debate.

Potato blight

Phytophthora infestans is an oomycete that causes the serious potato disease known as late blight or potato blight. (Early blight, caused by Alternaria solani, is also often called “potato blight”.) Late blight was a major culprit in the 1840s European, the 1845 Irish and 1846 Highlandpotato famines. The organism can also infect tomatoes and some other members of the Solanaceae.[1][2][3] At first, the spots are gray-green and water-soaked, but they soon enlarge and turn dark brown and firm, with a rough surface.The