The economic problems in Ireland were the same after the Great Famine as before In light of this comment, evaluate and assess the Irish economic situation prior to and after the Famine.

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“The economic problems in Ireland were the same after the Great Famine as before” [60] (1798-1882) 

The coming of the Great Famine irrevocably changed the majority of the aspects of the Irish economy. ‘Economics’ is however a broad term for developments in society encompassing political relations, finance and society as a whole, and it is important to distinguish and properly evaluate these differing transformations. Certain features of the Irish economy found themselves to improve after the Famine, and some deteriorated; change had certainly been predominant. Though one aspect of the Irish economy, that to some was the most fundamental component, and  essentially determiner, of Irish economics and arguably an underlying ‘evil’ that all Ireland’s economic hardships swivelled around, failed to change. The continuation of the dominant landlord-tenant relationship in Ireland meant that, although the majority of economic issues in Ireland changed in some way, the major, inherent problem of the Irish economy remained.

 Many features of Irish politics and society can be evaluated in order to properly judge any change, or continuation, in economic problems. As alluded to in the introduction, the Irish land system played a big part in determining, and feeling the effects of, the economy. Land tenure- the manner in which individuals in Ireland owned land- played a key part: prior to the famine the bulk of cultivated land had been owned by Protestant landlords who frequently sub-divided their land. The predominance of small land in Ireland was one of the main causes of underemployment during the famine.  The coming of the Great Famine did little to change this problem, though that is not to say that the problems were the same. Post-famine, the cottier class of smallholders was almost completely eradicated out a result of death or emigration, which led to the disappearance of many smallholdings- where in 1845 one-third of the farms were over 15 acres in size, in 1851 about one half were. It can arguably be said that the Famine helped stimulate land trade, as it ignited the “Encumbered Estates Act” whereby the speed of land was sped up and as many as 3000 estates were sold in the 1850’s. However, in reality this did nothing to help Irish economic problems, as these “new” landlords turned out only to be either spectators, rank-renters, or the old landlord class who continued to dominate Irish land tenure, causing the deep set economic problems of the Irish land structure to continue.

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Discussion about land-tenure is largely linked to the relationship between the tenant and landlord, an integral cause of economic problems in Ireland. To summate simply, prior to the Famine the landlord had unfairly dominated the tenant, and post-Famine this situation did not change. Though perhaps this is a summary too simple- for despite the continuation of the bad treatment of tenants, there had been changes in their relationship with the landlord, however small or insignificant they were (at least in the eyes of the Irish!).  The Irish Land Acts of 1870 and 1881 brought about several changes: tenants were required ...

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