Irish Lumper

The Irish Lumper is a varietal white potato of historic interest. It has been identified as the variety of potato whose widespread cultivation throughout Ireland, prior to the 1840s, is implicated in the Irish Great Famine in which an estimated 1 million died.[1]

Agricultural features

The Irish Lumper is noted for its ability to flourish on garden beds that are poor in nutrients, wet-footed, or both. Until the 1840s, it was closely adapted to growing conditions in Ireland, particularly western Ireland. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Ireland noted that the Lumper was a "very old variety, and ... probably well known when first recorded by Dutton (1808) in his Agricultural Survey of County Clare. ... It was described by Andrews (1835) as a 'coarse species' and was recommended by Howden (1837) as stock feed due to its enormous yield."[2]

In the 1840s, infestations of Phytophthora infestans devastated a series of potato harvests, leading to widespread famine and emigration. The cumulative effects of both catastrophes lowered Ireland's total population by approximately 2 million, of which approximately 1 million were fatalities.

After almost disappearing from cultivation, the Irish Lumper was regrown, starting in 2008, by Michael McKillop of County Antrim for harvest sale as an heirloom varietal.[3]

Culinary use

The Irish Lumper has been characterized as a "wet, nasty, knobbly old potato." Its texture upon boiling is described as more "waxy" than "floury", indicating a starch content on the lower side of that typical for white potatoes.[4]

Educational use

Schools in Ireland are starting to cultivate the Irish Lumper as a project of historical education. The Lumpers are cultivated in raised garden beds, as their ancestors were in the 1840s.[5]


  1. "Great Famine potato makes a comeback after 170 years". IrishCentral. 3 March 2013. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  2. Potato Varieties of Historical Interest in Ireland (PDF). Dublin, Ireland: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. 2008. pp. 45–46. ISBN 978-0-9565715-0-2. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  3. Pope, Conor (2 March 2013). "Great Famine spud returns after almost 170 years". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 2 March 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  4. Cox, Aoife (11 March 2013). "Spud Sunday: Return of the Lumper". The Daily Spud. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  5. "Famine's lost potato: knobbly Lumper unites schoolchildren". The Belfast Telegraph. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
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