The living slept with the dead, and the half-dead roamed on the landscape, dressed in rags and with some green about the mouth from the grass they plucked to eat. So calloused were the men who collected bodies that they sat on the coffins enjoying a smoke between them. There were those who walked miles, morning and eve, with barely a mouthful of bread; and men who dropped dead on the job like the ancient cart horses in their traces.
Lovely, floury white potatoes were what they had lived on; and when those began to rot in the ground, the people began to die.
Most shared what little they had, all of them starving in dribs and drabs together. But there were some who hoarded in secret, and "played the poor mouth" whilst gobbling up their stores in the darkness. Bloody greedy bogtrotters he called them. There were families where the Da had gotten work in England and sent a mite home for the family. He could smell roasting meat on the wind sometimes, trickling from those few chimneys, and his mouth would fairly drip.
A family like that there was, and the boys were plump and healthy and turned up their noses at the raggedy troops from the shanties. Till they began to retch and run to the privy by turns, the oldest falling down in a foaming fit right in the middle of the street. Like mad dogs, they were. Twas the doctor who found the sack of green potatoes, fleshy but sprouted, stowed away in a corner cupboard. Had they offered to share, they might have been told by Maggie or even Mean Old Bridey that you don't eat green potatoes on account of them being poison.
Better to die softly and honestly of the hunger, then.
This was one of the stories my grandfather told me, peace be upon his soul, of the Great Famine in the old country.
Today's bit of fiction features Green Potato Poisoning. Never eat potatoes that are spoiled or have green skin. Never eat the sprouts (you can remove those and safely eat the potato if the skin is not green). The nerve toxin solanine is produced in the green part of the potato (leaves, stem, sprouts, green parts of skin) and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, hallucinations, circulatory collapse and even death.