An Antrim potato farmer has re-cultivated a variety of potato at the root of the Great Famine, making it available in Ireland for the first time in almost 170 years.
The nutritious "Irish Lumper" grew immensely popular among impoverished Irish farmers in the early 19th century because if flourished in poor soil. However, the dependence on a single variety of spud proved disastrous. When the blight took hold in the 1840s, the Lumper was wiped out.
The potato variety had all but disappeared until Michael McKillop of Glens of Antrim Potatoes decided to grow the spud five years ago.
“I had read in all the history books about its awful flavours and soapy texture of the Lumper, but I wanted to see for myself what this potato with a black history was like,” McKillop told the IrishTimes.
“I grew a few and was amazed at how good they tasted.”
The Lumper was a hit at the Delicious Ireland consumer show at the Selfridges Foodhall in London last summer, but McKillop's yield was not enough to bring it to a wider market. This year's yield is slightly larger.
Next week, the results of McKillop's endeavors will appear on the shelves of Marks & Spencers, where is will sell for just three weeks.
The potato blight was caused by a fungus probably imported in fruit from America or Mexico on a trading ship. As soon as the fungus hit the potatoes turned into a mass of rottenness. Over one million starved and one million fled.
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