The population of Ireland Statistiques de peuplement et politique de population. Les Irlandais se nourrissaient essentiellement de pommes de terre. Before the Great Famine of , the population of Ireland underwent a great demographic rise due to precocious marriage, a high birth-rate, and declining mortality. The principal staple of the Irish diet was the potato.
With the great potato shortage, thousands of people perished from hunger and illness, and emigration to America increased still more. After the crisis, definitive celibacy became widespread. The sharp rise in the marriage age indicates social and cultural change. Since the early s the population of Ireland has rapidly been shedding many of the characteristics that made it unique for over a century. The layout is broadly chronological. First a word on the contours of pre-Famine population growth, as outlined in the table below2. The first comprehensive census of Ireland was carried out in Connell, based upon a manipulation of contemporary hearth-money returns, while the and later returns, with the exception of that for , are derived from the officiai censuses.
The implied annual growth rate is about 0.
Such rates are high by contemporary standards 3. But are the data in the table reliable? Greater population advance in Ireland during the earlier part of the eighteenth century than suggested by Connell thus seems likely. As indicators of the rates of growth at least down to the county level, the census data are surely sufficient. They imply a rapid tapering off before the Famine, the overall annual increase being 1. In it is the same story: On the eve of the Famine the average density per square mile in the western province of Connacht was per square km.
What factors underlay the population growth? According to Connell's truly landmark Population of Ireland, around which most later writing has centered, an increase in the birth rate due to earlier marriage after about was primarily responsible: To Connell the willingness of the Irish to marry early was self-evident: Connell's description evokes an Ireland of carefree peasant labourers, who married as a rule in their late teens, and lived on a diet consisting almost exclusively of potatoes.
However, contemporaries did not explain.
The population of Ireland : a survey - Persée
His main quantitative source is the Poor Inquiry of the s, hardly conclusive proof of the fertility hypothesis Certainly higher than suggested by Connell, if hardly late by European standards: Still even that would imply a large section of the community that did not conform to the Hajnal model. What, for example, of the urban poor, numerically important but too rarely considered in the literature?
Was the situation in the skuns of Limerick exceptional? Important work in progress by FJ. True, the available data for Dublin are striking: Variants of the mortality hypothesis also need stronger quantitative buttressing. It is thus unfortunate that Lee's plea for the greater use of Irish parish register data has gone largely unheeded.
Probably the poor quality and unrepresentative nature of the registers, both Catholic and Protestant, explain at least in part the reluctance of historians to use them. To complicate matters, they are generally for parishes in the east of the country, with towns dispropor- tionately represented The bulk of the Protestant registers was destroyed in the Public Record Office fire of Patrick's, Coleraine, is an important case in point.
Failing reconstitution, many registers can be used at least to check on movements in fertility and mortality in the pre-Famine period. So far the straightforward counting of baptism and burial acts has yielded a number of insights. In passing let us note that Irish social historians and anthropologists are also beginning to realize the usefulness of such sources. On the eve of the Famine over two of the fifteen million acres in agricultural use in Ireland were under potato cultivation. This was sufficient, given normal yields, to provide for an average daily adult maie intake of almost four kilos, and pro rata for others This should not blind us to other important aspects.
Until the s the secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy were also expanding. Twenty years later the percentage had dropped to less than thirty, however. As elsewhere in Europe, this early industrialization relied on an abundant labour supply: In a parliamentary Select Committee could state with justice: Population growth was evidently lessening before the Famine, but at what rate?
The suggestion42 that population totalled not more than 8. The Trinity census records a lower population in than the census for the same areas! Emigration, which probably averaged about four thousand a year during the eighteenth. There are a number of possible reasons for this.
One might argue that people in the western counties were poorer and thus could not afford to emigrate. For poverty was no constraint on internai migration, or seasonal migration to Britain. The Famine shocks now more for its anachronistic nature than for its toll of dead, and in its relative impact seems even moderate when compared to that of The potato failure hurt most in counties along the western seaboard and in pastoral areas where employment was not regularly available.
The population of Ireland 1700-1900 : a survey
How did Irish dietary change proceeded? What did the Irish population consume and why did they consume these products? Finally, to what extent did Irish living standard altered in the decades after the Great Famine? In the pages that follow, consequently, I attempt to trace back the radical changes of Irish lifestyle in terms of food consumption in the second half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century.
The potato always had a major importance for the Irish population. In the years before the Great Famine, the potato was almost the sole food product in Irish diets. Thus, the failure of the potato crop had a huge impact on the Irish society.
Change marked the post-Famine Irish diet - Account for the nature and extent of this change
While in pre-Famine times, the potato was responsible for the demographic growth cf. Hereafter, in the mid nineteenth century, this absolute reliance on the potato killed the people in Ireland. Furthermore, the authors explain: While the potato never disappeared from the Irish diet, it obviously lost its major importance and to survive the people were forced to find other foods. In this time, the Irish diet began its makeover. Instead of the potato as the universal food, the nutrition, subsequently, became more diversified.
Because of better facilities, higher wages and relatively low prices due to increased imports, the range of foods extended more and more. Anyhow, not all parts of Ireland had the same decided improvement of living conditions. Particularly in the poor counties of the west, people still were depending on the potato as a very important food product. Even though their lives were better than those of their ancestors.
This regional disparity shows that the change in potato consumption was not only a phenomenon of a different nutritional behaviour in Ireland. It was also an indicator of the expanded gap of life conditions between Irish cities and Irish countrysides. This board was founded for the purpose of remedy the distress in counties like Galway. By supporting social works and sponsoring local businesses in the west, Belfour tried to stop emigration and to enable the poor to participate in the better living conditions like the rest of the Irish population.
Belfour accomplished this purpose, as we know now, because especially the living standard of the poor improved in the second half of the nineteenth century. In the years after Belfours board, shops opened in rural areas, and the commercialisation developed throughout Ireland. The Irish diet was a mix of homemade products and purchased items. Not all parts of Ireland had equal opportunities to develop, but every area did it on its own way — some more, some less.
As abovementioned, especially the large number of newly opened up shops all over the country supported the upgrade of Irish life conditions and the enlargement of the variety of goods. Indian meal was mixed with oatmeal or wheaten meal. As well as the usage of different kinds of flour, the use of sodium bicarbonate for the making of soda bread became more famous.
The bread replaced the potato as a major food product.
Besides the change from potato to bread consumption, other food products were on increase. As the Irish diet was no more dominated by the potato, the Irish agriculture switched from tillage to pasture. The varied agriculture and nutritional behaviour of the Irish population had a huge impact on the social structure after Anyhow, Irish people ate more meat and butter, and drank more milk.
While before the Famine, meat was a luxury good, only eaten on holidays or celebrations, it, subsequently, became a daily product in the decades after the Famine.
Butter was eaten, but not from the poor, and the milk consumption showed two specific developments. In the same time, the consumption of tea was extremely high. This was a very special development, because the Irish population was still not living in wealth, but they did not hesitate to spend a lot of money for high quality tea. Tough, there were more tea drinkers in the cities than on landsides, tea was consumed everywhere. Everyone was willing to spend money freely for good tea blends: Ten years later, 14 percent of food spending in Dublin was on tea and sugar.