The Famine

The Famine


Most landlords protestant. Many absentee. Gale day (landlord’s agent). Large farmers (30 acres +). Sublet to small farmers and cottiers. Spailpeens were wandering labourers.

Country divided into Poor Law Unions and each had a workhouse. Only the really badly off would go there (families split up, like prison).


  • Rise in population

  • Subdivision

  • Dependence on the potato

  • The Blight

What was done

  1. 1845 Peel’s government bought maize (Indian corn) and set up Public Works Schemes.
  2. 1846 Russel’s liberal government did not want to interfere and abandoned the above.
  3. Soup kitchens were set up by the Quakers and the government but the government abandoned the idea in 1847.
  4. The workhouses catered for 200000 and eventually were allowed provide soup kitchens.


  • 1 million died of disease and starvation

  • 1 million emigrated by 1851 (coffin ships)

  • Push and pull causes left 4 million by 1900

  • Decline of Irish language

  • Subdivision ended

  • New catholic landlords

  • Hatred for Britain

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