13/05/12 – An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD accompanied by Jimmy Deenihan TD Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht officiate at the National Famine Commemoration Ceremony in Drogheda
Today (Sunday 13th May, 2012), An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD accompanied by Jimmy Deenihan T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee officiated at the National Famine Commemoration Day event in Drogheda.
Speaking of the lasting impact of the famine on Irish society, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. said: “It is that generational memory that supports Irish Aid and all aid agencies, to bring not just food but hope, self-reliance, compassion and dignity across the Developing World. A major priority of Irish Aid is to support global efforts to reduce hunger. In addition to addressing the immediate needs of those who are victims of natural and manmade disasters, Ireland is also working to address the root causes of hunger and has become a leading global advocate in the fight against hunger. This is a key aspect of the National Famine Commemoration.”
No other event in our history can be likened to the Great Famine, either for its immediate, tragic impact, or its legacy of emigration, cultural loss and decline of the Irish language. The population of Ireland, which was close to 8.5 million in 1845, fell to 6.6 million by 1851.
Drogheda during the Famine years was the second largest port of departure for over one million people who were forced to emigrate. Some travelled only as far as Britain while others became known as ‘two boaters’ travelling onwards from Britain to North America.
Minister Deenihan thanked the people of Drogheda for their part in paying tribute to the victims of the famine:
“I understand that 2012 is a special year for Drogheda and that the community here are commemorating Drogheda’s 600th year since its unification of twin towns north and south of the river Boyne. I am delighted therefore that the National Famine Commemoration is taking place here as it is clear that the community in Drogheda have a rich appreciation of their history. The role of Drogheda as a key port during the famine was a key factor in holding the National Famine Commemoration here”.
Previously National Famine Commemorations have taken place in Dublin, Skibberean Co Cork, Murrisk Co Mayo and Clones, Co. Monaghan.