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  • Ireland marks National Famine Commemoration Day on Sunday

    Friday, May 14th, 2010

    Ireland’s second National Famine Commemoration day will take place this Sunday, 16 May, with a wide range of events marking the day.

    The main event in Ireland will be a formal State ceremony at the National Famine Memorial in Murrisk, Co. Mayo. The event will include the National flag and military honors, and wreath-laying ceremonies. There will also be music, readings and prayers, tree planting, a candle-lighting ceremony, and a minute of silent reflection. Everyone is welcome.

    This state event has been complemented by a week of activities organised by the Murrisk Development Association and Mayo County Council. Events are aimed at both paying tribute to those who died or suffered during the Great Irish Famine,and also with raising awareness of the plight of those suffering the effects of famine globally now.

    The week-long series of events included literary and musical programmes and lectures. Monday’s event was “Writing the Famine in Fiction and Song”, with Brendan Graham speaking in Holy Trinity Church, with special guest singer Cathy Jordan and Feargal Murray on the piano. On Tuesday, Michael Gibbons spoke on “The Legacy of the Famine on the Landscape”. Catherine Marshall spoke on visual representations of the Famine on Wednesday. Today, Professor Peter Gray will be in the Museum of Country life speaking on religion and the Great Famine, while tonight William Henry will speak on “The Horror of Famine”.

    Tomorrow, Bronach Joyce will lead a historical walking tour highlighting aspects of famine in Westport and Clew Bay. John O’Shea of GOAL will speak tomorrow night on countries afflicted by famine today.

    Today, students in schools across the country had a one-minute silent reflection on the Famine and hunger worldwide. An information pack for schools has been produced by Trocaire and Gorta for teachers who want to explore the links between Ireland’s famine and famine in the modern world.

    In addition, the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has written to all sporting organisations asking them to mark the commemoration by holding a one-minute silence at all events. Minister Pat Carey said,

    “I understand that this was a great success last year and had a real impact on both participants and spectators alike.  Sport holds such a strong and respected position in Irish society and I would encourage all sporting organisations to use their influence to pay tribute and acknowledge the losses suffered in Ireland as a result of the famine.  Unfortunately, famine is not unique to Ireland and many countries across the globe still suffer from famine and hunger today.  It is important that in acknowledging our own history we continue to raise awareness of the plight of these people?.

    For more information, visit the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs National Famine Commemoration Day website.

    The Catholic Bishops have also issued a statement marking the Famine Commemoration Day. Visit the CatholicBishops.ie website for more information.

    New York is supposed to be the site of a parallel event but I’ve been unable to dig up any information on that – I’ll post that if I find it.


    Skibbereen and Canada to host Famine Memorial events

    Thursday, January 8th, 2009

    This year’s National Famine Memorial Day will be held on May 17th. The date has been announced by the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Eamon O Cuiv.

    Skibbereen, Co. Cork will be the focal point of this year’s commemoration in Ireland, while there will also be an international event taking place in Toronto. Skibbereen was selected as it was one of the worst affected areas; a mass grave at Abbeystrewery holds between 8,000 and 10,000 famine victims.

    The National Famine Commemoration Committee was established last year, and had decided to hold an annual event, revolving between each of the four provinces. Last year’s event was in Dublin, and in 2010 Mayo will be the focal point.

    The committee will also run a parallel event in Canada; Canada was a landing point for thousands of Irish fleeing starvation. The overseas commemoration reflects the role of the famine in dispersing the Irish people, as the population fell from 8 million in 1841 to half that in the following decades.

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