The English government had long looked at the Irish as people of a different race. When the English conquered Ireland, they dispossessed the people of their land. This caused great poverty, immense human pain and suffering, and ultimately mass starvation and death. The Irish could not complain because as Catholics they were not granted any rights. Besides, the English garrisoned more than 100,000 soldiers to enforce their rule.
Housing conditions were wretched beyond words. Most houses in Ireland consisted of windowless mud cabins with a single room and no beds. The people would have to pay absentee English landlords to live in such hovels. Those who refused, or were unable, had to put roofs over ditches, burrow into banks, or exist in bog holes. In these conditions, disease killed millions.
From 1841 to 1851 the Great Hunger of Ireland caused the loss of at least 2.5 million lives. About one out of every five Irish died of starvation or disease. The British government acted on a common English prejudice that the Irish were, as a “race”, inferior to the English. Hence Ireland was economically raped by Britain, and this rape was justified by British racial superiority.
When bad weather pushed abject poverty into outright famine, England did little to save the people. Many leaders thought the loss of Irish lives was a good thing. The millions of lost and scarred lives from the Irish Famine cry out for us to at least remember the magnitude of this global act of racism. With it remembered, and repented, it will be less likely to ever occur again.