Evaluate the role of British administrative mismanagement in the Irish Potato famine.

Essay by glyc1234High School, 11th gradeA+, April 2005

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The Irish potato famine of the 1840s is often referred to by scholars as the most devastating and encompassing of its kind. Whilst agricultural problems played a large role in the extent of the famine, a significant percentage of the hardships suffered by the Irish people were caused by the administrative mismanagement of the British government. The policies in place regarding tenancy prior to the famine were the driving force behind the poverty of the Irish people, thus causing their dependency on the potato which was cheap, nourishing and easy to harvest. Further mismanagement occurred during the famine. Although the British government introduced policies which may have worked to prevent such dependence on the potato prior to the famine, such policies were ultimately fruitless once the famine begun. The fungus phytophthora infestans was undoubtedly the means by which the famine began. However, British mismanagement of Ireland provided the basis for a disaster on such a scale, and was ultimately responsible for the mass emigration and deaths of more than three million people.

The situation which developed in Ireland in the period of 1845-1850 was not the result of a single dilemma. Rather, it was manifested by three inter-related problems: widespread poverty, over-population and dependence on the potato. These problems arose primarily as a result of British mismanagement of the nation, although agriculture played a role in developing the dependency on the potato. The geography of Ireland# and its mild, damp climate meant that it was better suited to pasture# than tillage# agriculture. Until the potato began to be widely cultivated in the 17th century, it was notoriously difficult to cultivate food cheaply and easily. The British rule of was expanded in the 16th and 17th centuries. This colonization "[disrupted] the development of Irish society. Whole regions were devastated and denuded...