1836 was the first of many years of unseasonably cold summers in Ireland. No one knew what lay ahead, of course: that by 1851, almost one-eighth of Ireland’s population, a million Irish, would be dead from starvation or disease. Potatoes, originally from Central and South America, had become a staple crop across much of northern Europe, including the Rhineland region that the family in A Land Too Fabulous flees.
This article from History Magazine tells what we know now about the potato disease that spread across Europe and devastated Ireland. In A Land Too Fabulous, the family meets Irishmen who fled an earlier Irish disaster, the failed 1798 Irish Rebellion, and in the sequel, an Irish nun learns about the terrible summer of 1836.