In September 1845, the first reports of potato blight emerged in Ireland. It was not the only country affected. Blight also hit potato crops in England, Scotland, Belgium and Holland. But it was only in Ireland that potato blight led to a famine that resulted in the deaths of a million people and the emigration of another million. In little over five years, a quarter of Ireland’s population either died or left, abandoned by a government that saw the famine as “God’s punishment” and a means of dealing with Ireland’s “surplus population.”
My novel Golddigger is set between famine Ireland and the California gold rush. I attach here an extract from September 1845.