Setting Sail: Irish Immigration During the Potato Famine

Many people call it the Great Famine, but it was truly not a famine. The Irish grew enough food to feed themselves, but the English landlords exported most of it.

Map of Time | A Trip Into the Past

The tale of the Irish plight during the potato famine is a terribly tragic one. In a previous post I gave a brief account of the Irish Potato Famine. In this post I will seek to tell the story of those who left their beloved isle for new life on the continent of North America aboard ‘coffin ships’, sometimes for better, other times for worse.

engraving of 'Emigrants leaving Ireland' ‘Emigrants Leave Ireland’ Courtesy Wikipedia

Mass immigration among the Irish populace began in 1846. The potato crop had failed once again and times were only going to get harder. So immigrants packed their bags, that is if they had anything to pack, and headed for places such as North and South America and Australia, but with North America being the popular destination. Unscrupulous shipping companies renovated their cargo ships to transport the fleeing Irish. ‘Renovation’ usually consisted of building bunks in the hold.


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I am an artist, accountant and author living in western New York, transplanted from Denmark, Michigan, Florida, West Virginia, Pennsylvania (in that order!) I love the beauty of the world and sharing it with others through jewelry, photography, digital painting and writing.

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