Potato blight (phytophthora infestans) is a fungus which invades the potato plant and causes rapid decay. It caused the failure of potato crops in Ireland and several parts of Europe during the 1840’s. Due to Ireland’s over dependency on one potato variety the crop failure caused what has become known as the Great Irish Famine.
The first recorded instances of potato blight were in the eastern United States in 1843. The disease travelled to Europe in 1845 in a shipment of seed potatoes for farmers in Belgium. The fungus devastated potato crops in European countries and in southern England. It was reported in Ireland at the Botanical Gardens in Dublin in August 1845. A short time later potato crop failure occurred in several areas of the country. The famine which ensued during the following years had a devastating impact on Ireland.
Potato blight was first reported in Ireland at the Botanical Gardens in Dublin by the curator David Moore in the year 1845 On This Day.
Famine (1997) on the Custom House Quay in Dublin