Between 1845 and 1852 approximately one million Irish people died of starvation and disease another 1.2 million fled in search of a better life. The tragic period of the Great Hunger in Ireland will forever be remembered by the Irish people and diaspora around the world as a grief-stricken time of intense loss.
Here are some of the moving monuments erected to honor those who left Ireland forever or died during this sad chapter in Ireland’s history.
Strokestown Park Famine Museum
Customs House Quays, Dublin. Painfully thin sculptural figures, by artist Rowan Gillespie, stand as if walking towards the emigration ships on the Dublin Quayside.
St Stephen's Green, Dublin. "Famine", a sculpture by Edward Delaney.
Limerick, The 'Broken Heart' Famine memorial by Maria Pizzuti, Lower Mallow Street. The sculpture, created in 1997, is a fountain in the shape of a broken heart in memory of the forced emigration of several thousands who fled to America and beyond from nearby Steamboat Quay.
Also in Limerick city, the Pauper's Graveyard (now known as St Brigid's cemetery) in Killeely. Here a large timber cross was erected on the site of this mass graveyard. There are no headstones.
Murrisk, County Mayo. This sculpture of a famine ship, near the foot of Croagh Patrick, depicts the refugees it carries as dead souls hanging from the sides.
This stark and striking monument in Murrisk is an appropriate commemoration of the millions who perished in the Great Famine over one hundred and fifty years ago. Crafted in bronze by John Behan, the dramatic sculpture depicts a "Coffin Ship" with skeleton bodies in the rigging.
"Coffin Ship" was the term used to describe the ships which left our shores horrendously overcrowded with emigrants fleeing the famine. The dire and unhygienic conditions on board ensured that many did not reach their destination. The National Famine Monument was unveiled in 1997 by President Mary Robinson. Located directly opposite the carpark at the foot of Croagh Patrick, it commands panoramic views over the drumlin landscape of Clew Bay.
Clones, County Monaghan Famine Graveyard, Clones hosted the National Famine Commemoration for 2011 with President Mary McAleese and other representatives from 30 Countries also taking part.
Donaghmore Famine Museum - set in Donaghmore Workhouse in County Laois.
Doolough Tragedy, County Mayo. A memorial commemorates famine victims who walked from Louisburgh along the mountain road to Delphi Lodge to seek relief from the Poor Board who were meeting there. Returning after their request was refused, many of them died at this point. This became known as the Doolough Tragedy.
Doagh Island, Inishowen, County Donegal. Doagh Visitor Centre and Famine Museum has exhibits and memorial on the effects of the famine in Inishowen, Donegal.
Ennistymon, County Clare. This was the first memorial in Ireland to honour those who suffered and were lost during the Great Famine. It is erected across the road from Ennistymon Hospital, built on the grounds of the local workhouse where an estimated 20,000 Irish died and a mass graveyard for children who perished and were buried without coffins.
Sligo, County Sligo, has three memorial sculptures erected by the Sligo Famine Commemoration Committee.One is at the quayside, of a family comforting each other, where 30,000 people emigrated between 1847 and 1851. The other two are the gates of a famine graveyard and of a tree (called Faoin Sceach) in the grounds of the graveyard, where approximately 2,000 famine victims are buried.
Newcastle West, County Limerick, The Famine Graveyard is at the rear of modern day St. Ita's Hospital. Hundreds of people who died during the famine are buried there in unmarked graves. The cemetery is marked by a plain old cross. Close by stands the Workhouse.
Kilkenny in the McDonagh Junction complex. The memorial is marked by a small garden, where many bodies were found during an excavation.
Ballingarry Famine Warhouse 1848. Widow McCormack's house, the site of the 1848 rebellion, has now been converted into a museum.
Thurles Famine Museum occupies St. Mary's church in Thurles. St. Mary's church is built on the site of another pre-reformation church dating to the 12th century. This site includes both war and Irish Famine memorials.
The Doolough Tragedy Famine Monument, Doolough Valley, Louisburgh, Co Mayo, Ireland. Many, many people died in the valley trying to find relief from starvation.
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