Journalists should have to study at least some history?

This happens often. A recent disaster is quickly labelled the worst in history and I twitch.

Surely, anyone might think, wait a minute, what about those clearance things, Mr MacDonald was always going on about?

I would contend however, that per head of population, the Highland Potato Famine caused as much misery, if not actual deaths [only 250 000 deaths], than an Gorta Mór. The effects on the Highlands and several islands, such as Skye, were devastating in that people emigrated in their droves after potato and other crop failures in 1836-37, which was the last major crop failure before the Famine of 1846-47.

250 000 deaths, at the time of fast steamships and the railways? When rich industrialist were buying up highland estates? Every day from 1846 to 1847, the worst day in Skye’s history?

8 thoughts on “Journalists should have to study at least some history?

  1. May be of interest regarding the potato and other crop failures.

    Insurrection SCOTLAND’S Famine Winter book by James Hunter.
    A very good read and if things go the way they are this will become Scotland’s Energy famine winter.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been dipping into ‘Highland Experiment, the story of the Highlands and Islanda Development Board’ by James Grassie, 1983. What a farscical waste of time and money it was. Jobs for the boys it seem, plenty cash, which amounted to nothing for the people in the H’s and I’s. Ideas which wree put into practice and worked well, were quickly scrapped, land was bought up by an English GP for a pittance…he aquired loads of it it’s all very weird. I have yet to read more when I have time, and can stomach it. Shocking dereliction of power of course, and utterly disgraceful waste of money for vanity projects mainly, controlled by the land owners, (thieves) and the English government
    Scotland has been soooo shafted it’s tragic actually and akin to other ‘British’ colonised countries across the globe.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I am baffled by your apparent claim that somehow railroads and steamships kept the poor from starving to death in Scotland. You would not make that claim about Ireland, I suspect. The hunger and suffering from potato crop failures were a long way from being confined to Ireland *if that is what you are saying*. If you are not saying that, I honestly have no clue what you are saying.

    I suspect you need to debate with Prof Hunter if you are convinced that railroads meant that the massive crop failure was not a history-changing event in Scotland.


    1. I think the good prof was juxtaposing 19th century high tech and rich landlordism with staving people, living cheek to jowl.

      Before they study history, so-called “journalists” should actually study journalism.


    2. The Prof has not even remotely hinted that famines were confined to Ireland. I’m “baffled” by your response. It’s a very short article that only points out there have been far worse days for Skye than the tragic events of a few days ago.


  4. The Highland Clearances involved land being given over for sheep. The Clearances involved people being turned off the land by factors. Estate owners destroyed homes, cottages and villages. To accommodate sheep. The people were moved to non cultivable land on the foreshore etc. Community destroyed. Homes set alight.

    There were communities moved out of sight of the estate grand house. Deer estates. 1850. Hunting, shooting fishing for the gentry. The work house or servitude for the poorer. Factory workers or miners. Long hours and early deaths. Unhealthy people in overcrowded accommodation were the norm in the 1900s. Councils + Kirk extracted a tithe (a tenth) rateable tax. For education (church schools) and welfare or the workhouse. Only the gentry or those of property could vote or formed rotten boughs and gerrymandering. 1928 Universal Suffrage. The Fabian rise of the Labour Party. The demise of the Liberal, Tory Parties. 1945 GE. Massive Labour victory.

    Victoria 1819-1901. (Reign 1937 to 1901) bought the Balmoral Estate and romanticised the Highlands. ER residing there today. 97 years. Most of Scotland land is owned by a few people. Scotland has a ‘right to roam’. People can roam wherever.

    Scotland’s magnificent scenery. Scotland makes £Billions from tourism. It was only in the 1970s people went abroad for holidays because of air travel and cheaper flights. Staycations were the norm until 50 years ago. Most people could not afford to travel after the devastation of WW. Hardship and poverty. Staycations coming back because of Covid, airport chaos and better weather.

    The Jacobite rebellion 1715/ 1745 was put down with brutality and ferocity. A reaction against the Illegal Act of Union 1707? Land confiscated from supporters of the rebellion. People imprisoned or deported. The land given by the crown to supporters of the Crown. The Enlightenment. 1750.

    Rebellion and revolts all across Europe 1830-50 as people demanded more rights.

    There are estates where there were planned villages for workers. Still evident today. Many rural towns and villages in Scotland. Planned towns. Built to a similar design. Still evident. A central square. A row of houses, cottages around, for the estate workers. Gardens to cultivate for food. A Kirk and a school.

    Villages and farms over the countryside. The soil is good to grow and cultivate. Potatoes are a good crop. Scotland exports masses of seed potatoes. Barley for whisky production and good water. Berries grown from spring to autumn. A lack of EU seasonal workers. No EU Cap payments or investment grant and loans for renewables etc anymore. Brexit.

    Land is tax exempt to keep farms together. Bigger farms produce more. Anyone or a group can buy an acre of land (£7000) and put a hut on it. Farms are taxed like a business on any profits made, as are turbines. 20% Corporation tax. Capital gains tax. Vat etc. Forestry include production and is taxed. Saving on imports of wood products.

    People had no other choice but to migrate to the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. A hazardous journey. Even in the 1960s higher unemployment, and the £10 passage, drove people to migrate. 10th+ of the US population are descendants who emigrate from Scotland (+ Ireland). 24million+. Enough to sway a vote. Scotland has a 40million diaspora. Biden mother’s is Irish. Fitzpatrick. Trump mother Scottish from Lewis.

    Scotland population has only risen since Devolution 2000. 5.4million. It remained the same since 1900 and before. 5million. Dipped in the 1950s (War?).


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