another spinning wheel
This little castle type wheel was at the Ulster-American Folk Park in Omagh, Norther Ireland. The park was a very well done display of the type of houses that both the very rich, (Mellon family) and the very poor renters of Ireland before the potato famine in 1840's
The Potato Famine
In 1845 it happened, the biggest fear hit Ireland and suddenly became reality. A disease attacked the potato crop and half of the crop was destroyed. People harvested the few potatoes they had and prayed that the next years crop would be an abundant one. But the crop of 1846 suffered even more than the previous year. To add to the misery, that winter was the "severest in living memory". When the 1847 crop failed also, the Irish population of the whole nation was faced with starvation. This is when the first wave of immigrants escaped their starving homeland. The majority of this first group went to Canada because prices were very low--ships bringing lumber to England were glad to receive paying passengers instead of returning to Canada empty. Unfortunately, many of these people carried typhoid and many other diseases with them on to Canada.
Ironically, during these tragic years it was only the potato crop that failed in Ireland. Wheat, oats, beef, mutton, pork, and poultry were all in excellent supply but the Irish-English landlords shipped these to the European continent to soften the starving there and receive a very good profit in return. When people today wonder about the hatred between the Irish and the English, they don't recognize the fact that Irish peoples memory is a long one and that stories are still being told about those ships leaving Irish ports loaded with food at the same time that their ancestors were eating grass to live.