Potatoes and the Irish Famine

Hashbrowns, french fries, mashed, or bake. Potatoes are a classic favorite all around the world. These starchy tubers have a preparation style for just about every meal. Today, let’s shine a little light on a very sad moment in the history of the potato, specifically, what happened with potatoes and the Irish Famine.


The Great Famine

Let’s travel back to 1840s Ireland.

Potatoes are the staple crop.

So much so that many in Ireland were solely dependent on the potato for food.

This came to a screeching hault.

A fungus, ravaged the potatoes leaving them mushy and inedible as they lay in the fields.

More than half of the Irish potato crops were destroyed in the first year of the infestation.

And the number of crop casualties continued to climb in subsequent years.

The result was famine.

At the height of this disaster with potatoes and the Irish famine, more than 1 million Irish died from this famine or famine-related illnesses.

In terms of loss of life in European disasters, the potato famine ranks seond only to the Plague in the 12th century.

With the famine came a huge shift of the Irish population seeking a better life in the United States, Australia, and Britain.

It’s estimated that  half a million Irish fled to the United States during this time.


Irish Culture in America

But fleeing to America didn’t end their tribulations.

The Irish struggled against prejudice and poverty.

Despite this, many parts of their culture became integrated into every day American life, and they’re still prominent today.

One example is the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

Along with their culture came the cuisine and beloved recipes from their homeland.

Many of which called for, you guessed it, potatoes.


Potatoes and Traditional Irish Cuisine

For a taste of Ireland try coddle, boxty bread or colcannon all three are traditional potato dishes.

Even today, more potatoes are eaten in Ireland than in most countries.

And internationally, potatoes are seen as one of the most abundant and valuable produce crops.

Potatoes might have had a bit of rocky history, but they’re definitely here to stay.


Looking for some great potato recipes?