The 175th anniversary of the Great Famine in Ireland is upon us. The disaster had no definitive start or end, but it was in September 1845 that the tragedy was first reported, and on the 13th of that month it fell to The Gardeners’ Chronicle — of all publications — to report: “We stop the Press with very great regret to announce that the potato Murrain has unequivocally declared itself in Ireland.”
Within five years, the outbreak of “Murrain”, or potato blight, had led to around one million deaths from disease, hunger and fever. A million more emigrated, and the death rate on some of the “coffin ships” to America was more than 50%.
For those who remained, the decades following the famine saw the percentage of Irish people who never married climb dramatically. With age at marriage also going up, the imprints left on the country’s demographics were multiple.
Today Ireland is the only country on earth with fewer people than it had in 1840, indeed it is still well over a million short of that total; for comparison, the population of England and Wales has grown four-fold.
Continue reading @ UnHerd.