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- Very few of the old people of Swords know very much about the famine of 1846. Swords before the time of the famine had about twice the population it has at the present day. The blight was caused by an germ that lit on the potato stalk and when the stalk died the potato died too. When the potato crop failed the country abounded in food of cattle, sheep, and corn but the farmers had to give these to the landlord to pay the rent and this was shipped across to England. The English government was warned of a famine but they took no measure to check this. Nearly 4 millions people died or had emigrated to America. it was not till 1847 that large sums of money were raised in America, England and other countries to buy food for the people.Transcribed by a member of our volunteer transcription project.