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The Famine

From 1750 to 1841 the population of Ireland increased from 3,000,000 to over 8,000,000. At this time marriages took place in the early teens and meant that the " FAMILY " farm had to be  DIVIDED to accommodate these unions. As the size of the Family farm decreased the population increased and as a result a great drain was put on the land. Irelands only industry at this time was FARMING in contrast to say England, which was experiencing an INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION and there fore less reliant on farming as its main " Industry ".

 The hottest Summers were also being experienced here " in living memory ", and as a result the supply of POTATOES was so plentiful that farmers had to dump their unsold crop along the roads from the " FAIR "/ AONACH. Potatoes could not even be given away and it is said that by 1844 it did not pay one to even dig them but were left to rot in the ground. But Mo léir this state of affairs was due to change.

 The Spring of 1845 saw a damp, fog bound Irish country side which when it finally LIFTED left the first signs and smell of " the BLIGHT ". Its effects were to dominate the Irish population and countryside for the next five years with disastrous consequences. People did not necessarily die of hunger in the early stages alone but as they grew ever weaker the effects of the by now RAMPANT diseases like TYPHUS, DROPSY and the " FEVER ", helped to decimate RURAL Ireland. Some places, e.g. along the coast and on the then  inhabited islands, managed to avoid the worst  effects of the Famine as they had a supply of FISH and wheat but the tradition of fish eating was not common place here and so this FOOD supply was not of benefit to the country as a whole. Also of course we were largely dependent on the family CURRACH as our main fishing " FLEET ", and this could not maintain a ready supply. Fish was not a mainstay in the Irish diet but mainly eaten  on a Friday, ( a FAST day ), and on Christmas Eve night when salted Ling was consumed to welcome " the Birth of the Child ".

It is ironic that the " LUMPER " potato which reared many a large Irish family was to create the conditions for the " TIDE " of EMIGRATION from Ireland and the Re- introduction of PASTURE i.e. the rearing of the COW, ( e.g. the KERRY, MAYO, and SHORTHORN ), and by 1851 the FAMILY farm had returned to approximately 30 acres., ( 12 hec.s). The SUB DIVISION of land amongst all of ones children had to discontinued and the tradition of " LETTING " to the ELDEST  son meant that as there were as yet no INDUSTRIES to accommodate the rest of ones children there was only " the BOAT ". One must also remember that the " FAMILY " farm was infact " TENANT " based  in that RENTS were being paid to a LANDLORD. This means that an ordinary family were totally dependent on a Landlord to farm and live. This along with the " EVICTIONS ", ( i.e. the Landlords evicting their tenants of the land to make way for large flocks of sheep ), as was practised in Wales,  Scotland and Ireland forced the tenant farmers to EMIGRATE to the" NEW " World ( America and Canada ). This is when ships like the ORIGINAL Jeanie Johnston were essential.

    T.Gall.Pub.C21st.©