Between 1845 and 1851 Ireland was devastated by famine as the potato crop, on which the majority of the population depended, was attacked by potato blight. During those years up to one million people died from hunger and disease, while up to another million emigrated. The impact of the Famine upon Irish social life was enormous. The landless labourers who formed the poorest social class were almost wiped out, while many landlords suffered financial ruin. The Irish language suffered a sharp decline. The tradition of marrying early ceased and the birth rate fell sharply.