The first half of the 19th century was brutal for people in Ireland. In 1801, after they became a colony of Great Britain, Catholics were prohibited from owning land. Then, widespread starvation occurred from 1845 until 1852 during the Irish Potato Famine. No wonder they escaped their country in mass. From 1815 until 1867, an estimated 150,000 Irish Catholics arrived in Saint John’s port. Many moved elsewhere in North America. But by 1851, over half the city’s population were Irish. They lived in deplorable conditions. One of the responses was to build the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The Gothic design was created in 1852 by architect Matthew Stead. It was consecrated in 1855. The needle-like spire was added in 1871. At a height of 230 feet, the cathedral is the second tallest building in Saint John.