Irish Immigration - Potato Blight - 1845
The potato blight first affected crops in 1845 when half of the crop was affected, in 1846 the following year the whole crop was destroyed. This blight also affected other countries, in 1844 Canada was affected and then in 1845 the blight also affected the United Kingdom. On initial inspection, the potatoes appeared normal, however once boiled and cut the inside of the potato was black and sometimes brown in colour. The leaves of the plant were not initially inspected as most people were more concerned with the root of the tuber - the potato itself. Farmers then noticed that there were brown spots on the leaves of the affected plants. Sometimes only certain parts of a field would be affected.
The following passage taken from An Illustrated History of Ireland by Mary Frances Cusack published in 1868 explains the heartache caused by immigration and how the families who were left behind mourned the emigrants as if they had died, they knew they would never see their loved ones again:
"Of all the peoples on the face of the globe, the Irish Celts are the most attached to their families and to their lands. God only knows the broken hearts that go over the ocean strangers to a strange land. The young girls who leave their aged mothers, the noble, brave young fellows who leave their old fathers, act not from a selfish wish to better themselves, but from the hope, soon to be realized, that they may be able to earn in another land what they cannot earn in their own. I saw a lad once parting from his aged father. I wish I had not seen it. I heard the agonized cries of the old man: "My God! he's gone! he's gone!" I wish I had not heard it. I heard the wild wailing cry with which the Celt mourns for his dead, and glanced impulsively to the window. It was not death, but departure that prompts that agony of grief. A car was driving off rapidly on the mountain road which led to the nearest port. The car was soon out of sight. The father and the son had looked their last look into each other's eyes—had clasped the last clasp of each other's hands. An hour had passed, and still the old man lay upon the ground, where he had flung himself in his heart's bitter anguish; and still the wail rung out from time to time: "My God! he's gone! he's gone!"
Irish Immigration Facts
The father of Henry Ford, the founder of the famous motor company was born in County Cork. He left Queenstown (now called Cobh) in County Cork and sailed to Canada to flee the famine in Ireland.
The Irish fleeing their native land for a better chance of survival travelled to America and Canada on Coffin ships. They were named coffin ships due to the harsh conditions on board and the poor chance of survival for the passengers. Many of the passengers didn't even have fresh water let alone food for the long and stormy Atlantic crossing. As a result many of the emigrants never reached their destination and their bodies were thrown overboard.
The Famine reached its height in 1847, the Irish left in their thousands in search of a better life. England, the USA and Canada were the most popular destination for Irish emigrants
Hibernian Football Club in Scotland was founded by Irish immigrants in 1875. The Classical Latin name for the island of Ireland is Hibernia
Celtic Football Club in Scotland was formed to feed the poor Irish famine immigrants in the East End of Glasgow, it is also a celebration of Scottish and Irish Heritage
The Famine was a natural disaster but was made worse by the actions of the British government led by Lord John Russell