Minister Humphreys travels to Philadelphia for 2016 International Famine Commemoration
The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, is today (Friday) travelling to Philadelphia for the 2016 International Famine Commemoration. Philadelphia became homes to tens of thousands of Irish emigrants who fled to the eastern coast of the United States during the Famine years.
As part of her trip, the Minister will meet with senior political figures, including Mayor Jim Kenney and Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack, and with Irish community organisations and Irish American business groups. On Sunday, Minister Humphreys will lead a service at the Irish Memorial in memory of those who fled Ireland during the Famine years.
Speaking today Minister Humphreys said:
“The International Famine Commemoration provides an important opportunity to remember the tragedy of the Great Famine, and it also gives us a chance to celebrate the huge contribution which Irish emigrants have made to cities like Philadelphia. The Irish community is deeply ingrained in the city of Philadelphia, where 14% of the population claim Irish ancestry.
“This weekend, we will commemorate the victims of the Great Irish Famine; a tragic period in our history, when our ancestors endured starvation and incredible hardship. Tens of thousands of Irish people arrived on the eastern coast of the United States, seeking refuge in Philadelphia, Boston and New York.
“Many of the new Irish arrivals, who came from rural areas, faced great hardship and poverty on the streets of Philadelphia. Despite this adversity, the Irish went on to play an important role in the industrial era, building railroads, bridges and canals, and gradually gaining influence in American society. Today, Philadelphia remains one of the most Irish cities in the US.
“The International Famine Commemoration serves an important role in generating discussion, at national and international levels, regarding aid and emergency assistance for those in need today, by raising awareness of famine issues in the modern world. One of the legacies left behind by the famine in Ireland is the deep compassion which is felt by Irish people for those who suffer from hunger today and a resultant strong commitment to humanitarian aid and relief.”