Some things for the weekend

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Famine Eviction SceneA couple of things to keep you distracted for the weekend. Well, five minutes of it at least.

The best history-related writing I happened upon this week came not from the stack of foreign aid books and articles that I’ve been (enjoyably) making my way through, but from a piece in The Economist on the privatisation of the space industry:

The past, despite the disclaimer often found on advertisements for financial products, often can be a guide to the future.

How apt for our own ‘interesting’ times.

My second discovery is something that I’m sure those of you with a superior knowledge of nineteenth century Irish history caught up with a long time ago, but, hey, it’s new to me. On the 10 September podcast from Nature magazine, there is a discussion of the newly revealed genetic sequence of Phytophthora infestans, more commonly known as potato blight, in which one of the report’s authors Sophien Kamoun describes how the disease originated in wild potatoes in Mexico, made its way somehow into North America before being brought to Europe and Ireland, with all of its disastrous consequences. You can listen to the discussion at the start of the podcast below or read about it here.


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4 Responses to “Some things for the weekend”

  1. Ida Says:

    It has been suggested that Phytophthora infestans was introduced with guano brought from the Galapagos for use as a fertiliser. Ironically, farmers in Wexford hung guano bags across gaps and gateways to prevent the blight blowing in to their crop.

  2. Ailish Says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Im wondering where you got the image of the family being evicted? I am trying to find the source of this image for use in a documentary and am having no luck! Any help would be much appreciated.

    All best,

    Ailish B

  3. puesoccurrences Says:

    Hi Ailish,

    The image is out of copyright and available on Wikipedia Commons, here: Its archival source, according to that page, is the Lawrence Collection, National Library of Ireland.

    Hope that helps!


  4. Ailish Says:

    Thank you so much Kevin!

    All best,


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