03/11/2014 : Minister Humphreys travels to Atlanta and New Orleans for International Famine Commemoration
The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, will tomorrow (Tuesday) travel to Atlanta and New Orleans for the International Famine Commemoration. This is the 6th International Famine Commemoration. Previous events have taken place in Sydney, Boston, New York, Liverpool and Toronto.
Minister Humphreys will spend the first day of her five day trip in Atlanta, where she will visit the highly acclaimed Seamus Heaney exhibition at Emory University, deliver a keynote address on the arts as a gateway to business at an event hosted by the Irish Chamber of Commerce Atlanta, visit the National Centre for Civic and Human Rights at Centennial Park and launch a new volume of Samuel Beckett letters.
This will be followed by a four day visit to New Orleans, where the 2014 International Famine Commemoration will take place. In the years following the Famine, Irish emigrants developed a strong presence in New Orleans, many of whom have travelled there on cotton ships making return journeys from Liverpool.
During her time in New Orleans, Minister Humphreys will deliver a keynote address at the Tulane University Symposium entitled ‘Ireland and New Orleans: From the Famine to Katrina – Stories of Recovery.’ She will attend a number of Irish community events and will visit the Irish Cultural Museum of New Orleans, where she will open a special exhibition on the Famine and hunger awareness.
The impact of Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans in 2005 killing 1,500 people, and the way in which the city has recovered, will be a significant feature of Minister Humphrey’s trip. She will visit St Mary’s Dominican High School, which received significant $50,000 from the Irish Government in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to restore its library. The Minister will also lay a wreath at the Hurricane Katrina Memorial on the final day of her trip.
Speaking in advance of the trip, Minister Humphreys said:
“The links between Ireland and New Orleans are striking. Thousands of Irish emigrants made the arduous journey to the Southern United States during and after the Great Hunger, many of them travelling on cotton ships from Liverpool. From 1840-1860, New Orleans had a higher per capita Irish population than Boston or Philadelphia.
“Through this week’s International Famine Commemoration, we will not only remember the victims of the Great Hunger, we will also celebrate those who emigrated to New Orleans and elsewhere in recognition of the strong links that still exist between our communities today.
“The National Famine Commemoration Committee, which I chair, also places a major focus on raising awareness of hunger and famine issues across the world today. The Irish Government has a proud tradition and a strong commitment to tackling global hunger, a commitment I believe is rooted in our legacy of famine.”