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date: 14 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

While historians once tended to displace the Famine from a pivotal position in modern Irish history, more recent research emphasizes its centrality, and focuses upon the controversial issue of state responsibility. Mortality levels from the Famine place it, proportionately, as one of the most devastating recorded human catastrophes. Official British policy towards Ireland spanned two governments, those of Robert Peel and John Russell, with historians taking a more emollient view of the former: in fact there were significant continuities between the two. The legacy of the Famine was uneven, with commercial and technological advance and the consolidation of both the farming interest and landlordism. On the other hand, recent research emphasizes evidence of continuing economic uncertainty, particularly in the West, together with ongoing landlord-tenant tensions. Rural insecurities, crystallized by the poor harvests of 185964, underlay the post-Famine years, and fed into the politicization of the later 1870s.

Keywords: Famine, blight, agriculture, demography, providentialism, liberalism, Whiggery, landlordism

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