"everything else they'd lost in the Hunger"

 The Great Irish Famine (1845-1852) was caused by a massive failure of Ireland's staple crop, potatoes, following the accidental importation of potato blight from America. From a population of eight million before the famine, one million lost their lives and a further million emigrated; the population of Ireland and Northern Ireland has yet to recover, currently standing at just over six million.

Although the response of the British government was initially good it soon tailed off, especially under Prime Minister Lord John Russell who halted relief efforts, leaving thousands without food or employment. Incredibly, even during the worst year of the famine, the British continued to export food from Ireland and to prevent other countries from sending aid.