September 2009


Before the famine the life was hard but okay. Since 1541 Ireland was owned by English landlords. The Irish had to pay a lot of cutbacks, that they were allowed to use the fields. The Irish had not much to live. That is because the Irish farmers grew the cheapest, easiest and most substantial crop they could under these circumstances, the potato.

Potato was the staple food for them.

The time became worse because of the population

1660 → ca 500.000 people

1841 → ca 8.100.000 people

In this time there were shortages of work places and also not enough food for everybody.

1845 the potato crop in Ireland was destroyed because of a fungus that had traveled from Mexico to Ireland. The potato was the main food source and as a result of the mass of rottenness, hundreds of thousand people starved to death. About 1.5 million of the survivors emigrated to America, Canada and Australia and Ireland lost one-third of its population.
There were ships which transported the people. These ships were old, had a bad equipment and diseases and plaques were diffused. Some had previously served as slave ships. They only continued in service because of the emergency. There was no sanitation, and passengers had to survive on only the barest rations. A lot of people died during the passage.

“Thousands of the children of the Gael were lost on this island while fleeing from foreign tyrannical laws and an artificial famine in the years 1847–48. God bless them. God save Ireland!”

Those who survives the passage were in the bottom social class. They had to work very hard when they want to survive. The earnings were humble.
1901 was the lowest population with 3.5 million people. More and more people emigrated.

Another outcome was the downfall of the Irish language. Only 4 million peole spoke Gaelic in 1841. That were people from the bottom special class which died because of the famine.
-1851: 25% of the Irish who spoke Gealic
The children should learn English so that they have no problems with the communication. Also old songs, dances and customs were forgotten by the time.

Comment

All in all the famine was a sad story of death and emigration. We think that it was very cruel of the English landlords that they took the food even if the people were starving. It’s understandable that the Irish had angry feelings for them. The living standards were very bad like in other countries but as a height in Ireland the famine took place.

Task:

Listen to Sting`s song History will Teach us Nothing and try to connect the lyrics to Irish history.

The first strophe deals with the Irish population. Sting use a boat as a metapher. In this metapher the emotions are the sail and the blind faith is the mast.  He comes to the conclusion that the population can’t get nowhere fast without a breath of real freedom.

In the second strophe he use a metapher again. He names God’s voice as a voice of reason because the Irish are very catholic.

In the refrain he say that ” sooner or later, the history will teach them nothing.”

The third strophe tells from the history. It explains it like a “catalogue of crime”.

In the fourth strophe he tells from the brutal fights in the history. The “blodness battles” and the “blowing up his chlidren will prove them right”.  It describes the fights between the Irish.

At the end the text “know your human rigths, be what you come here for” are repeat 3 times.

Conectives:

  • “without a breath of real freedom, we’re getting nowhere fast.”    -> because they’re very religious (most catholics) they can’t change something.
  • “Our written History is a catalogue of crime”  -> the Irish fight against the Vikinks, the Celtics, the Spanisch and others. Many people died.
  • “The constant fear of scarcity,aggression as its child.” ->The people we’re afraid of their future and of another famine or something like that.
  • “Convince an enemy , that he’s wrong.” -> Northern and South Ireland fight against each other.
  • “know your human rights, be what you come here for.” -> the hearer should change his life and use his rights, against the slavery.
  • All in all the people didn’t learn from their history and that means the refain: “History will teach us nothing”.

The excerpt from Roddy Doyle’s novel A Star Called Henry is about the first encounter of two persons. A 16 year-old girl which is called Melody and a man whoes name is Henry.

At the beginnig the author describes Melody’s childhood. She works in a bread factory since she was 12.

At a Sunday, when she was coming from half-eight mass,she ran into Henry. He was totally drunken and struggling out of  Saturday. He falls on the street and surched for his wooden leg.  Melody just said that he was a grand-looking man without it.

At that moment, Henry look at Melody and ask for her name. He fell in love with her.

Imagine you are Melody’s friend whom she tells about her encounter with Henry. What good advice would you give her?

I would tell her that she should be careful because she don’t know if he’s a nice guy. When she met him he was drunken and she don’t know if he’s an alcoholic.

She also should be careful because he don’t know if he’s sensible, because he lost his leg. It’s possible that he had a terrible accident and is in a bad case now.

I think she should be careful and shouldn’t get to know him better. I find it’s a bad start when you met something the first time and then he’s  totally drunken .