An Gorta Mór / Diaspóra na Gael

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

The potato is a tuberous vegetable that is native to the Andes of South America. Following the Spanish exploration and exploitation of the South American Indians, the potato was introduced to Europe where it had a profound, beneficial effect on diets of Europeans from Ireland well into Russia. It grew well all over Western Europe and Eurasia. A population explosion followed and continued well into the 19th century. The potato grew prolifically in Ireland and was a product grown on every Irish farm. With few exceptions, however, the Irish farmers were tenant farmers and had no rights on the land they farmed. If they grew wheat, barley oats, or raised cattle on their land, that produce was taken by the absentee landlords, most of whom lived in England and placed on English ships for export. The British Empire was maintained by so-called English beef, English wheat and barley, and English…

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