19/05/19

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, speaking at the National Famine Commemoration 2019

Is onóir mhór domsa bheith anseo inniu thar ceann an Rialtais don chomóradh Stáit seo ar ócáid Chuimhneachán Náisiúnta an Ghorta Mhóir 2019 agus fearaim fíor-chaoin fáilte romhaibh uile.

It is a great honour to welcome you here today to Sligo to honour the memory of the victims of the Great Famine. I am delighted to see so many people from the local community and the surrounding area to remember the victims of this catastrophic time in our past.

It is a particular honour for me to acknowledge the presence of An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D., who will lead the official representation during today’s event.

I would also like to welcome the many members of the Diplomatic Corps in attendance, as well as those members of the Government, the Oireachtas and other public representatives who have joined us on this special occasion.

I am especially pleased to welcome the Director of Information Services & University Librarian, Mr. John Fitzgerald of University College Cork, who hosted the 2018 commemoration last May.

This is the third time that the National Famine Commemoration has been held in the province of Connacht and the first time to be hosted in Sligo. The National Famine Commemoration is held annually to remember the enduring effects of the Great Famine – An Gorta Mór.

As we will hear today, Sligo and its surrounding areas incurred great loss, during the Great Famine through the ravages of starvation, disease and emigration with cumulative fall in Sligo’s population of over one third recorded between the census of 1841 and that of 1851.

I would like to express my appreciation to the commitment of local communities and committees throughout the island of Ireland who persevere to keep the memory of those that suffered alive. In particular, I would like to recognize the work of the members of the County Sligo Famine Commemoration Committee.  In 1997 Joe McGowan and his colleagues came together to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Great Famine and produced a booklet setting out the history and stories of the Famine Years in Sligo.   I am delighted that, with the generous support of Sligo County Council, this booklet has been reprinted and I am pleased to announce its relaunch today.   I am especially pleased that copies of this important local record will be distributed to local schools and I am confident that it will serve as a valuable teaching resource into the future

In closing, I would like to again thank the members of National Famine Commemoration Committee and our colleagues in Sligo County Council who have put so much effort into organising this commemoration.  I would also like to acknowledge the work of the OPW, the Defence Forces, an Garda Síochána, local volunteers and the staff of my own Department and all those who have worked on today’s arrangements

I would also like to thank all the artists and contributors who are performing here today, and all those who have contributed to the realization of this commemoration.

Finally, I would also like to thank all of you who have joined us for today’s ceremony, including An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to ensure that the victims of An Gorta Mór are remembered with respect and dignity.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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