Irish Potato Famine Analysis
The letter was written on 17 December 1846, but it was published in The London Times newspaper a few days after, on Christmas Eve.
We must situate this text in the period of The Great Famine, The Great Hunger, or The Irish Potato Famine. It was the worst famine in Europe of the 19th century, suffered in Ireland between 1845 and 1849 or 1851 (depends on the source), with years of mass starvation and disease spread throughout the country.
After Cromwell conquered Ireland, there was a series of profound changes in the island: Irish Catholics and Presbyterians lose many of their …show more content…
However, with its repeal in 1846, the results were not as expected: the amount of corn was insufficient, the prices were still too high and there were a deficit milling structure of Ireland. The privation was accentuated by the British government’s misdirected and ineffective response to the crisis.
The consequences were disastrous: one million people died and at least another million more fled their homeland, principally to the United States, Canada, Australia and Britain. One must take into account that the population of the island was about eight million before this catastrophe, causing the population to fall by between 20% and 25% that has not yet recovered to pre-famine levels. The potato remained Ireland's staple crop after the famine; its consumption per capita was still the highest in the world.
The English Government tried to solve the problem enhancing public works, as roads, railways or canals. Workhouses were created, where the poor people would work for ten hours a day in exchange for food and lodging. In addition, the Prime Minister Robert Peel set up a temporary Relief Commission to distribute food at cost price. All these measures mitigated, but not ended the underlying …show more content…
When the letter was written Wellington had just retired from political life, although he remained Commander-in-Chief and helped organize a military force to protect London during the year of European revolution, in 1848.
Mr. Nicholas Cummins states in his letter to the Duke of Wellington what he saw himself the previous three days in the County of Cork, a place with which the author was directly related, in addition to have small properties there.
He express that he was informed of the lamentable state of misery to which that County had been reduced and therefore he decided to investigate personally the issue.
Nicholas gives the instance of the hamlet Skibbereen, as an example of the state of the district. All the hamlets appeared empty, so he decided to enter the hovels, and there he witnessed scenes of frightful hunger. He saw what it seemed huddled skeletons, but he knew by their moans that they were in fever but alive. In a few minutes he was surrounded by at least 200 starving