The Great Famine - An Gorta Mór

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A famine is when there is a very severe shortage or lack of food for a large number of people. During a famine, there is hunger, malnutrition, starvation and often death among the people. Ireland had its worst famine in 1845 when a famine called the Great Famine occured. It lasted until about 1850 but the worst years were between 1845 and 1849. It is estimated that almost one million people died and another million Irish people emigrated by the end of the famine. Ireland’s population was over 8 million in 1841 but by 1851 it was reduced to about 6 .5 million.

One of the causes of the Great Irish Famine was a disease called blight which destroyed the potato crop. The potato was the only food available to the majority of the people in Ireland at the time. The poorer people were cottiers and labourers who did not own their own land. They grew potatoes on small plots of ground and had no money to buy any other foods.

The poorest groups suffered most during the famine because they had no other food to eat except the potato. When the blight destroyed the potato crops every year from 1845, the people faced starvation and death.