The Irish Famine
There are two videos to choose from to learn about The Irish Famine.
The first one is better for younger kids, the second one will appeal to older kids. Feel free to watch one, or both!
High school students or any student who wants to dig deeper, continue your study with one of the advanced learning projects in the Projects section. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to test your understanding by taking the quiz.
Take A Deeper Dive!
The Great Irish Famine Documentary
Potatoes – Dishes From Around The World!
Potatoes continue to be an important food across the world. Watch this video to see some potato dishes from all over the globe. When you’ve finished, write or draw a list of all the different ways you’ve ever eaten potatoes!
Remember to include this in your portfolio.
Grow Potatoes In Containers
Keep a healthy stock of potatoes by growing your own! Just watch out for blight! Check out the video on that to know what to look out for.
Growing your own potatoes is a two-part activity, as you need to chit your potatoes first which takes 4 weeks. Patience Omnis learners! Good potatoes come to she and he who waits!
- Seed potatoes (shop bought CAN work but not always or in every country depending on if pesticides have been used)
- Large pots/sacks/bags for planting in (with holes in the bottom for drainage)
- Compost OR untreated wood sawdust and used coffee grounds if you want to follow the video. Compost is easier!
Remember to take pictures of your potatoes and include them in your portfolio! We’d love you to share them in the Global Learning Village too!
Watch this video for 50 tasty ideas on things to do with the humble spud (UK slang for a potato!) You might want to share your potato learnings in the Cooking Skills Drop in session!
Choose one to cook for your family. Remember to ask an adult for help or permission first.
Take a picture of your creation and include it in your portfolio!
The Great Famine & Emigration
The potato blight in Ireland that started in 1845 resulted in the death of over 1 million people. It also led to one of the biggest migrations of people in human history. One and a half million Irish women, children and men left their homeland to attempt to escape starvation.
They left on ships such as the Dunbrody – a replica ship on display in New Ross, Ireland. Visitors get to experience what it was like to be an emigrant onboard a ship during the long journey to the USA or Canada and the prospect of a better life, or at least, the hope of living.
Unfortunately these ships became known as ‘coffin ships’ as many people died from cholera and typhus due to the poor hygiene conditions onboard.
Your task is to imagine you are an Irish emigrant in 1845. You are leaving Ireland hungry and poor, but hopeful of a better life. You have arranged passage on a ship like the Dunbrody. Dip into the videos above to get a flavour of what such trips were like.
Make a video diary of your time on the ship. You might want to dress up or make a ship style set behind you to record in.
- Why you left Ireland
- If you are alone or with family
- If people you knew and loved, died
- If you were at risk of starvation and/or sick of eating maize
- If you got scurvy, had been evicted or had your home burnt down
- Why you chose to emigrate and which country you’re heading to
- What you hope life will be like when you arrive
- What life is like on the ship: how you eat and sleep, or how dirty it is
- What happens to people who die on the ship and how many people are dying/ill
- What the weather and journey are like at sea
Try and imagine the sounds, the smells, the sights all around you. Tell your story and decide on an ending. Did you get cholera or make it to a new life? Maybe you want to describe what your first impressions are of your destination, if you make it there.
While many emigrants died on these ships, many also made it to the USA and Canada, and despite often experiencing hardship there too (arriving penniless and often illiterate), these Irish immigrants worked hard to build successful new lives for themselves.
Remember to include your video diary in your portfolio!
The Causes Of Famines
Watch the videos and read this article about famines.
It is easy to think that the Irish Potato Famine was caused by potato blight. However, as we’ve seen, there were many other factors involved that were directly caused by government action and inaction.
Imagine it is 1846 and you are witnessing how the politicians and Prime Minister of the day, Sir Robert Peel in the U.K are handling the potato blight in Ireland. You are angry about what is happening to the people of Ireland and decide to run as a political candidate in the next election to try and change the situation.
Write a political manifesto about what YOU would do if you were in political office to end the famine and help the Irish people.
This video gives you some basics on how to write a political manifesto (this one is for students, so you’ll need to think Irish peasants instead for your own manifesto!) Remember to focus on the POSITIVE changes YOU want to make rather than attacking the opposition (however cross their actions may make you!)
Upload your video to your portfolio.
Choose at least one.
The Advanced Projects focus on an interesting facet of the Irish Famine – the financial generosity of the Native American Choctaw Nation. Watch the above video to gain context for the projects.
IYYIKOWA – Paying It Forward
Watch the videos about how the Native American Choctaw Nation sent money to a town in Ireland to help them financially through the famine. Somewhat beautifully, the Irish town was able to repay the gesture during Covid-19!
Iyyikowa, the title of this project, is the Choctaw Nation’s word for serving those in need. For this project, think about ways that you can serve others or Pay It Forward. Research other reported ways that this has been done and commit to some you will do yourself!
Pay It Forward/Random Acts Of Kindness Ideas
See if you can come up with some ideas of your own (remember to check with an adult before you do them)
- Pay It Backward – Buy a coffee for the person behind you in the queue
- Compliment the first three people you talk to
- Leave a kind server the biggest tip you can afford
- Write inspirational post it notes and give them to people
- Send a thank you card to officers at your local police or fire station
- Give food to your local food bank
- Tape coins around a playground for children to find
- Send an email or letter to someone who has made a difference in your life
- Give your postie/mail deliverer a box of chocolates
- When you hear that discouraging voice in your head, say something positive to yourself. You deserve kindness too!
Finally, write a letter to the Choctaw Nation and/or the Irish town of Midleton County Cork, to tell them how the story of their kindness to each other has inspired your own random acts of kindness.
FAO Gary Batton
P.O. Drawer 1210, Durant, Oklahoma, 74702
Midleton Town Council
Remember to include your random acts of kindness and/or your letters in your portfolio
Positive News Story
Read this article
Write a positive newspaper report about this story, Explain both the Native American generosity and the way the Irish were able to repay such kindness years later.
Think about why so much of the news that we see on TV, internet and newspapers is so focused on negative news: war, disasters, etc.
Did you know there are other types of news channels available that focus on presenting positive news stories?
Have a look at the following:
Now read this article and think about how you might choose to consume news in the future!
Read Aloud Book(s)
Jamie O’Rourke And The Big Potato