Monday, 21 September 2009

Great Famine (Ireland)

Between 1845 and 1852, Ireland experienced a period of starvation, disease and mass emigration, during which the population of Ireland was reduced by 20 to 25 percent. Approximately one million died and a million more emigrated from Ireland's shores. The proximate cause of famine was a potato disease known as 'potato blight'. Potato crops throughout Europe were ravaged by blight. Ireland was particularly affected as a third of the population were entirely on dependant on the potato for food.
The effect of the famine changed changed the islands demographic, political and cultural landscape. From 1801 Ireland had been governed by the United Kingdom and between 1832 and 1859 seventy percent of Irish representatives in the British parliament were were landowners or sons of landowners.
In the forty years that followed successive British Governments grappled with the problems of a country that Benjamin Disraeli described in 1844 as "a starving population, an absentee aristocracy, and an alien church, and in addition the weakest executive in the world." Disaster loomed large as Ireland was on the verge of starvation, her population rapidly increasing, three-quarters of her labourers unemployed, housing conditions appalling and the standard of living inevitably low. Catholics made up 80 percent of the population, the bulk of whom lived in conditions of poverty and insecurity. The English and Anglo-Irish families who owned most of the land, had limitless power over the tenants. The majority of these landowners lived in England and used agents to administer their properties for them with the revenue generated being sent to England.

In 1843 the British Government set up a Royal Commission which found that in many districts the Irish labourer and his family on little more than potato, their only beverage being water. Their housing was inadequate and a bed or blanket was a rare luxury. The commission stated that the principal cause was the bad relations between the landlord and tenant. Landlords in Ireland used their powers without remorse, and the people lived in dread of them.
The potato was introduced as a garden crop for the gentry. By the seventeenth century it had become widespread as a supplementary rather than a principal food around butter, milk and grain products. In the first two decades of the eighteenth century, it became a basic food of the poor, especially in winter. By 1841, there were more than half a million cottiers, with one and three-quarter million dependants, involved in potato growing. The principal beneficiary of the system was the English consumer. With the advent of the potato blight it was estimated in 1845 crop losses were at a high of 50 percent. It was later ascertained that without a shadow of doubt considerably more than one third of the countries potato crop had been destroyed. The following year, 1846, three-quarters of the harvest was lost to blight and with it came the first recorded deaths from starvation.

Maxine's World

Today's Smile

An Irish woman of advanced age visited her physician to ask his advice in reviving her her husband's libido.
"What about trying Viagra?" asked the doctor.
"Not a chance" she said. "He won't even take an aspirin."
"Not a problem," replied the doctor. "Give him an Irish Viagra. It's when you drop the Viagra tablet into his coffee. He won't even taste it. Give it a try and call me in a week to let me know how things went."
It wasn't a week later when she called the doctor, who directly inquired as to her progress ..... The poor dear exclaimed, "Oh, faith, bejaysus and begorrah! 'Twas horrid! Just terrible, doctor."
"Really? What happened?" asked the doctor.
"Well, I did as you advised and slipped it in his coffee and the effect was almost immediate. He jumped straight up, with a twinkle in his eye and with a his pants bulging fiercely! With one swoop of his arm, he sent the cups and tablecloth flying, ripped me clothes to tatters and took me then and there passionately on the table ! It was a nightmare, I tell you, an absolute nightmare!"
"Why so terrible?" asked the doctor. "Do you mean the sex wasn't good?"
"Oh, be jaysus, 'twas the best sex I've had in 25 years! But sure as I'm sitting here, I'll never be able to show me face in Macdonalds again!"

Animal Crackers


Brainteaser - Sunday's Answer

Yesterday's brainteaser was a general knowledge 'trivia'. Ten questions - the answers to which are below:

01 Judaism.
02 Ali Baba.
03 An American University.
04 A black fossil material.
05 Ottowa.
06 Siamese twins.
07 Starfish.
08 100
09 The Mont Blanc tunnel.
10 Plankton.

9/10 Excellent 7/8 Very Good 56/ Good - Below 5 Miss-spent youth catching up with you!