st patrick’s day green alcoholic drink recipes The response of the British government to the calamity in Ireland has long been a focus of controversy. Government relief efforts were launched, but they were often ineffective. And modern commentators have noted that economic doctrine in 1840s Britain generally accepted that poor people were bound to suffer and that government intervention was not warranted.
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The issue of English culpability in the catastrophe in Ireland made headlines in the 1990s, during commemorations marking the 150th anniversary of the Great Famine. Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed regret over England’s role in 1997, during commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the Famine. The New York Times reported at the time that “Mr. Blair stopped short of making a full apology on behalf of his country.”
It is impossible to determine precise numbers of the dead from starvation and disease. Many victims were buried in mass graves, their names unrecorded.
It has been estimated that at least a half-million Irish tenants were evicted during the Famine years.
In some places, particularly in the west of Ireland, entire communities simply ceased to exist. The residents either died, were driven off the land, or chose to find a better life in America.
Irish emigration to America proceeded at a modest pace in the decades before the Great Famine. It has been estimated that only 5,000 Irish immigrants per year arrived in the United States prior to 1830.
The Great Famine increased those numbers astronomically, and documented arrivals during the Famine years are well over a half-million. It is assumed that many more arrived undocumented, such as by landing first in Canada and simply walking into the United States.
By 1850 the population of New York City was said to be 26 percent Irish. An article headlined “Ireland in America” in the New York Times on April 2, 1852 recounted the continuing arrivals: