Dependence on the Potato

Of the vast population of Ireland, 8,295,061 in 1848, more than a third may be described as almost wholly dependent on potatoes for their daily existence the largest proportions being concentrated in Counties Galway and Mayo. They consisted of three distinct classes:

  • occupiers of cabins with small farms varying in extend from one to five acres:
  • cottiers living on the lands of the farmers for whom they worked, in cabins to which were attached small plots of ground of from a rood to a half or an entire acre;
  • and at the bottom of the scale the labourers who had no fixed employment and no land, but who simply rented the hovels they lived in and depended for support on the patches of conacre potato ground they were able to hire each year from some neighbouring farmer.

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