31/01/2013 – Launch of the 2013 National and International Famine Commemoration at the ‘Famine’ sculpture on Custom House Quay
LAUNCH OF THE 2013 NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL FAMINE COMMEMORATION PROGRAMME AT THE ‘FAMINE’ SCULPTURE ON THE CUSTOM HOUSE QUAY
President Michael D. Higgins to lead the official representation at the National event on 12th May 2013
Today (31st January 2013), Jimmy Deenihan, T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, together with the Australian Ambassador, Her Excellency Dr Ruth Adler; the Chair of Sydney’s Great Irish Famine Commemoration Committee, Dr Perry McIntyre; and the Mayor of Kilrush, Councillor Mairéad O’Brien; visited the famine memorial on the Custom House Quay to launch the 2013 National and International Famine Commemoration Programme.
The launch took place at Rowan Gillespie’s poignant sculpture entitled ‘Famine’, which was commissioned by Norma Smurfit and presented to the City of Dublin in 1997. Situated on the Custom House Quay, it movingly depicts the haunted and emaciated life sized figures of Irish people forced to emigrate during the Great Irish Famine.
The National Famine Commemoration will take place this year in Kilrush, County Clare on 12th May 2013. President Michael D. Higgins will lead the official representation at this year’s National Famine Commemoration.
The Minister commented:
‘On behalf of the National Famine Commemoration Committee, I would like to thank President Michael D Higgins for agreeing to lead the official representation at this year’s National Famine Commemoration in Kilrush Co.Clare. The President’s involvement in this commemorative event shows the deep respect the Irish nation has for the victims of the great famine and indeed victims of famine worldwide. Local involvement is a key aspect of the preparations for the National Famine Commemoration to ensure the success of that event. Officials from my Department have met with representatives from Kilrush Town Council and the local organising committee to commence planning for this year’s National Famine Commemoration and I am delighted to learn of the great commitment and community spirit going into the preparations for the ceremony on 12th May and the local programme of related events. It will be a poignant and solemn occasion to commemorate all those who suffered, perished and emigrated during this tragic time in our nation’s history’.
The Mayor of Kilrush, Councillor Mairéad O’Brien, noted:
‘Kilrush has historically been very closely linked with and was greatly affected by the Great Irish Famine in the mid 19th century. It is fantastic to see this link being recognised nationally with Kilrush being selected as the host town for the 2013 National Famine Commemoration.’
In addition to the National Famine Commemoration, a detailed programme of locally organised events is currently being prepared and the National Famine Commemoration will form one of the key events in Clare’s calendar of events for the Gathering Ireland 2013. The Australian Irish Diaspora and local community in Kilrush will work together develop a coherent and connected National and International famine commemoration programme for 2013 – one which will be a most fitting tribute to all those who perished and emigrated during this tragic period in our history.
The International Commemoration of the Great Irish Famine will take place in Sydney on Sunday, 25th August. Minister Deenihan commented:
‘I am very much looking forward to working with Sydney’s Great Irish Famine Commemoration Committee and the community in Sydney to ensure that all those who left Ireland for Australia during this tragic time in our nation’s history are remembered in a very special way and to recognise the bond that will always exist between the Irish people and the people of Sydney’.
‘We remember all of those who left Ireland during the Great Famine for Australia; particularly the 4,412 young Irish women and girls who travelled from the workhouses of Ireland between 1848 and 1850 under the Earl Grey Scheme in search of hope and a new beginning. We honour their great achievements and their extraordinary contribution to their adopted homeland and we recognise the bond that will always exist between the Irish people and the people of Sydney’.
Further details in relation to the programme for the National and International Famine Commemoration will be announced shortly.