30/12/2011 Minister Deenihan announces Drogheda, County Louth as Host Town for 2012 National Famine Commemoration
Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is pleased to announce today (Friday 30th December, 2011) that the National Famine Commemoration Committee which he chairs has selected the town of Drogheda, County Louth to host the 2012 National Famine Commemoration in May 2012.
“The choice of Drogheda as host town is particularly significant as during the Famine years, the town 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 the UK to North America” said Minister Deenihan.
Ireland was ravaged by the Great Irish Potato Famine from 1845 to 1852. Many of the rural Catholic Gaelic Irish poor in County Louth died from hunger and disease or emigrated. Relief committees established to feed the poor were unable to feed the starving masses. Archival material shows that ‘despite pleas from the local clergy, which fell on deaf ears, in the main famine victims were offered nothing more than silent contempt.’
Minister Deenihan also said “This will be the 5th consecutive year in which the National Famine Commemoration has taken place. Communities working in partnership with the businesses and local authorities of Skibbereen, Cork, Murrisk, Co. Mayo and Clones Co Monaghan all created a programme of events which honoured and respected the earlier generation who had perished in the ‘Great Hunger’. I know that the selection of Drogheda will also have widespread support from Drogheda Borough Council, the Old Drogheda Society, the Drogheda Harbour Board, all the Churches and Louth County Council. The Famine Commemoration Committee looks forward to working closely with these groups to ensure that the Commemoration for 2012 will be a fitting and dignified tribute to our ancestors.
Minister Deenihan also expressed his gratitude to the members of the National Famine Commemoration Committee for their commitment to ensuring that the commemoration programme will honour those who suffered and recognise those exceptional people who tried to help.