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In the middle half of the nineteenth century, more than half of the population of Ireland emigrated to the United States. This wave of immigration affected almost every city and almost every person in America.

From 1820 to 1870, over seven and a half million immigrants came to the United States — more than the entire population of the country in 1810. Nearly all of them came from northern and western Europe — about a third from Ireland.

In Ireland almost half of the population lived on farms that produced little income. Because of their poverty, most Irish people depended on potatoes for food. When this crop failed three years in succession, it led to a great famine with horrendous consequences. Over 750,000 people starved to death.

Over two million Irish eventually moved to the United States seeking relief from their desolated country. Impoverished, most Irish could not buy property. Instead, they congregated in the cities where they landed, almost all in the northeastern United States.

Today, Ireland has just half the population it did in the early 1840s. There are now more Irish Americans than there are Irish nationals.