Can you imagine in your country 1,100,000 people dying from disease or starvation, in addition to one and a half million others desperately immigrating to other countries in an attempt to escape the overwhelming sickness and fatality? (AIrish Potato Famine@) Try to imagine the government that controls you and is responsible for your well being, almost totally neglecting to even acknowledge or take charge of this problem until it is too late. If one looks at Ireland from 1845 to 1849, this is exactly what happened when a potato famine struck the British ruled country. The relationship between England and Ireland reaches back more than 500 years, but never was the powerful and cruel domination of the British over the Irish more exhibited than during the terrible years of 1845 to 1849, when Britain used the Irish Potato Famine to commit genocide on a people they had tried to eradicate already for hundreds of years.
In the 1500's, England took control of Ireland, after a few hundred years of holding scattered areas of land across the country. King Henry VIII began the persecution of the Roman Catholics, which mostly all Irish people were. The Penal Laws, a group of laws restricting the freedom of the Roman Catholics attempted to pressure them into converting, but only succeeded in straining the lives of the Irish people. When the Penal Laws were put into effect, the Irish were stripped of their rights, including the right to vote, hold any public office, or own land. After the land was taken from the Roman Catholics, Britain it gave to wealthy English and Scottish Protestants. Although the majority of its people could not hold office, Ireland still had its own parliament up until the 1801. At that time the Act of Union was passed and Ireland merged with Great Britain to form the United Kingdom, thus dissolving Ireland=s parliament.
Ireland, because of its location and mineral-barren land, had never been a large trading country, nor had it been able to prosper from the industrialization of the 1800's, as most of Europe had.