Starving to Death: the “luck” of the Irish

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. This morning Jackie of the Auburn Meadow Farm posted regarding the event that many of us know as the Potato Famine. I find it fascinating but also chilling to learn about the reliance on mono-crops and the influence of wealthy industry in that great tragedy. Can we learn from this?

Auburn Meadow Farm

“The Almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight, but the English created the Famine.”

— Irish national activist, solicitor & political journalist, John Mitchel



My family came to America from Ireland in the early 1900’s so you’d think I’d have some firsthand tales to tell about the Great Hunger. But, alas, my family is not a sharer of stories, photos or heirlooms handed down from one generation to the next.

They say history is written by the victors, and mylack of understanding of the Irish Potato Famine proves this true.  This day every year when all Americans are honorary Irishmen is a perfect time to reflect on the actual history of the most influential Irish event I know.

Of course what we call the Irish Potato Famine, the Irish instead call the Great Starvation. The Irish rejection of the term Famine is very specific; a famine is a natural disaster. And…

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Celtic Controversy and Cabbage

This fellow St. Patrick has been celebrated in this country for more than 200 years and in Ireland for close to 2000. We have a storybook on my son’s bookshelf that we’ve read over the years which tells the most familiar story. It’s about a young boy named Maewyn who was born to a tax collector in the Roman British empire. This version of the story tells that he was sold into slavery and shipped to Ireland. His captors forced him to herd sheep and he did so until he escaped 6 years later.

Modern Rendition of Maewyn

Modern Rendition of Maewyn