chapter  10
The Potato Eaters: Food Collection in Irish Famine Literature for Children
Pages 18

The single most powerful signifi er of Irish identity is food. Or, more specifi - cally, lack of food. No other Western country has been so defi ned, so culturally impacted, and so radically changed from one “food centric” event: the Great Irish Famine of the mid-1800s, also known as the Potato Famine, The Great Hunger, or in Irish, An Gorta Mor. The physical and emotional dependence on food is clearly authenticated through contemporary children’s literature portraying this catastrophic period. The narratives reveal the horrors of the Great Famine, the relentless hunger, and the quest for food, through the eyes of courageous children determined to survive. These historical novels for children and young adults illustrate the strength and fortitude of these heroes, thus constructing a strong, proud national identity for the Irish and Irish Americans.