06/11/2014 Minister Humphreys launches the 2014 International Famine Commemoration in New Orleans
The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, is today (Thursday) launching the 2014 International Famine Commemoration in New Orleans. Minister Humphreys is attending the event as Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee.
Thousands of Irish emigrants fleeing the Famine came to the Southern United States, many of them arriving in New Orleans via the Mississippi River, where the 2014 Commemoration is being launched today. From 1840-1860, New Orleans had a higher Irish population per capita than Boston or Philadelphia.
Tomorrow, Minister Humphreys will deliver the keynote address at the Tulane University Symposium ‘Ireland and New Orleans: From the Famine to Katrina – Stories of Recovery.’ She will also visit St Mary’s Dominican High School, which was set up by a group of nuns from Dublin in the 1860s, and which received $50,000 in funding from the Irish Government in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Speaking today, Minister Humphreys said:
“The people of Ireland and New Orleans have a lot in common, in terms of a shared sense of loss and a determined spirit to survive. In the years following the Famine, thousands of Irish emigrants braved the journey across the Atlantic to make new lives here and elsewhere across the United States.
“It is important that we remember the one million people who died during the Famine, and the one million more who emigrated. But we should also celebrate the lasting impact the Irish diaspora are having to this day in cities across the United States. The people of New Orleans have come through incredible adversity in recent years. It is inspiring to see how the city has literally been rebuilt since the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“The Irish people reached out to the people of New Orleans after that horrific storm, with the Irish Government committing more than €1 million in disaster relief for the immediate aftermath of the hurricane. I can see how that money was well spent on a number of projects, including the restoration of the library at St Mary’s Dominican High School, which retains its strong Irish links more than 150 years after it was set up by a group of nuns from Cabra.
“The Irish community in New Orleans remains incredibly strong to this day. The Famine Commemoration not only allows us to recognise and pay tribute to that community, it also allows us to explore and strength cultural and business links that exist between our two communities.”