Irish Genocide of 1845-1852
By Caden Potter
- To start with, the Irish Catholic population was primarily lower class, as a result of British Penal Laws that prevented them from basic rights like owning or leasing land, running for public office, obtaining a education, and pursuing a profession.
- Secondly, the Irish populus relied heavily on the crop: those families that were considered upper class used the crop as a source of profit, while the majority working class families used the potato to pay for rent to their landlords, as well as using it as their main source of food.
- Third and finally, the British also relied heavily on the potato crop coming out of Ireland, and when the Blight struck potato crops in Central Europe during the early 1840's, the British government felt as though this supply was in jeopardy. This resulted in some very drastic measures, with the British government going as far as sending military regiments to go and collect what was left of the Irish's surplus supply.
These 3 key factors led to many Irish citizens to outright lose the ability to pay for simply necessities. Kicked out of their homes by their landlords, and lacking money, food, and housing, these people were given 2 options, as stated in An Argument that the Irish Famine was Genocide by an unknown author, "Starving Irish peasants tried to eat the rotten potatoes and fell ill to cholera and typhus and whole villages were struck down." and "Other families were sent to workhouses where the overcrowding and poor conditions led to more starvation, sickness, and ultimately death." Others still, who had sympathetic landlords, were sent via ship to the Americas or Australia. These ships, known as coffin ships, were packed to capacity with Irish imigrants and sent off on several-month long journeys, of which only two thirds of the passengers would survive. Ultimately, these events ended with 1 million Irish dead, and 1 million more displaced to foreign countries.
Britain’s Secret History: The Irish Holocaust
Whistling In The Wind: Was the Irish Famine Genocide?
Media Bias in Articles
Criticisms of the Event
Feeding off of the last criticism, one could argue Historical Criticism played a major role as well. The British felt harshly toward the Irish due to the two groups checkered past. Britain still distrusted the Irish even 47 years after the events of the Irish Rebellion in 1798. In the eyes of Britain, Irish citizens were seen as criminals, and often treated as such. On top of that, the prior history and differences between the Catholic and Anglican churches only fueled the hatred and distrust, to the point of prolonged violence, as was most notable in the case of the Tithe War of 1830. By 1845, Anglo-Irish tension was at a tipping point, and any past trust was long since gone.
A, A. (n.d.). The Irish Famine was Genocide. Retrieved May 11, 2016, from http://www.irishhistorylinks.net/History_Links/IrishFamineGenocide.html
O. (1995). Official British Intent. Retrieved May 11, 2016, from http://www.irishholocaust.org/officialbritishintent