• LOCATION 16 | Derrie Danders: A Guide to the Quayside and North City

    Irish Potato Famine

    As you continue your walk along the Quay, you will pass a number of retail outlets on your left, including a gym, a toy store, a fast food takeaway, and ahead of you, a large Sainsburys supermarket.

    If you feel the need to indulge in any retail therapy, please feel free to pause your tour, if you like.

    If not, please continue to walk straight on, as we will soon be approaching the mid point of our tour, that of the Emigration Sculptures.

    As we walk, I will tell you a little bit more about the Irish potato famine of the 1840's and the subsequent mass emigration that this brought about.
    Also known as the Great Hunger, it refers to a period from 1845-1849 in which a disease called blight infected potato crops throughout Europe, but which had a devastating effect on Ireland. Potatoes were the staple diet of many of the tenant farmers in Ireland. Although they grew other crops which were not effected by blight, these crops were grown to be sold to pay their rent to their landlords, and it was the potatoes that they grew for their own food. In 1846, three quarters of the potato harvest was lost to blight, and this caused considerable hardship in the South and West of Ireland in particular. However, this situation became worse, because there were now very little seed potatoes available to be harvested so hunger continued for a number of years. While initially landlords were sympathetic and the government did try to bring relief to the poorer people, this did not continue, and Ireland continued to export food even though many of her people were starving.

    It is not known exactly how many people died during the famine, but it is estimated that Ireland's population was 8.1 million in 1841 and by 1851 was only 6.5 million. The current population of the island of Ireland is now only about 6 million, so the famine had a long term effect. However, another big factor in the population fall was emigration, as many people chose to leave Ireland and go to places such as New York and Boston. The city was a very important hub for emigration with local companies such as J & J Cooke and McCorkell & Co providing the transatlantic transportation.

    Keep walking.

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Derrie Danders: A Guide to the Quayside and North City