Irish Migration in Australia

            Why Irish people migrated to Australia.

             Between the years of 1845 and 1849, Ireland experienced a devastating natural disaster known as the Potato Famine. During this period and in the succeeding years, living conditions in Ireland were so terrible that Irish citizens emigrated in droves. Their experiences as immigrants to Australia were not all good, even though at the time Australia was a developing nation wanting more immigrants to make their home on its shores. Despite this, there is Irish blood in many modern day Australian citizens.

             In the harvests of the early 1840s, a new fungoid disease appeared in the potato crops of North America. The disease, phytophthora infestans, commonly known as blight, quickly spread to Europe. It was, at the time and for many years thereafter, an incurable plant disease, so when it hit Ireland in September 1845, panic rippled through the country. Succeeding its arrival, it rapidly destroyed most of the crops still in the ground, which totalled a massive half of the total area of the country. In the year that followed, failure was nearly complete in the majority of regions throughout Ireland, a misfortune that was to be mirrored two years later in 1848, and nearly achieved in 1847 and 1849 - 1852. These years saw reduced sowing of potatoes, which was to ensure Ireland"s poverty for a number of years to come. Approximately 1 million people either starved to death or died of related diseases and illnesses . The impact of the deaths of so many people on the country"s population of just 8.5 million was apparently hugely felt, as well over 1 3/4 million people (possibly 1.9 million) emigrated between 1845 and 1855 . Some of the reasons for emigration were clear - grief, depression and the fear of starvation. Conditions were obviously desperate in Ireland. In one instance in April of 1846, at an Indian Corn and Meal sale at Cork (a town in Ireland) "the crowds of poor persons who gathered round were so turbulently inclined as to require the immediate interference of the police" .

Related Essays: