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Definition of the potato famine from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

 

the potato famine

 
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a disaster that happened in Ireland between 1845 and 1849 when most of the potato crop was destroyed by a plant disease. Potatoes were the main food of the poor in Ireland then, and about a million people died for lack of food. Two million people left Ireland for Britain and America because of the famine and many of them died on the way to America because of disease and hunger in ships known as 'coffin ships'.