It all started when…
In 1845 The Great Famine struck Ireland in the form of a potato blight. Losing all of their crops virtually overnight, many tenants of farmland were left without food. Furthermore, without a way to grow crops, these families could no longer afford the rent of these cottages and were subsequently evicted by the landowners. With nowhere to go and nothing to eat, many Irish either died or emigrated. Facing a population decrease of about 25%, Ireland still remembers this atrocity hundreds of years later. Roughly 125,000 people were affected by the famine in County Waterford alone. Of the ones lucky enough to escape, Ellis Island in New York became the welcome gateway to a new life.
Prior to the famine, families who were incapable of owning their own land would live in cottages on farmland belonging to someone else. They were responsible for working and farming the land via potatoes and in return they were afforded a place to live. These cottages were simple stone structures with thatched roofs. Briar Rose Cottage itself was among these. Having less than 2,000 remaining cottages to this day that were original "famine cottages", Briar Rose is steeped in historical significance for the Irish culture.
Briar Rose Cottage is one of the few cottages left that housed a family during the potato famine of 1845. To this day, the backyard is marked by the very potato ridges that were farmed and failed hundreds of years ago. Still a hot point for the Irish of today, it serves as a reminder to some of one the darkest times that Ireland has faced. To others, it is a source of pride of what Ireland has rebuilt and overcome. Regardless, Briar Rose Cottage is an original part of Ireland's history that is still being written today.