Remembering the Famine – the memorials in North America


The Great Hunger emigration from Ireland was dramatic. Between 1845 and 1855 almost 1.5 million left Ireland and 340,000 of these traveled to the United States. Today 34.1 million Americans claim Irish ancestry, according to the latest Census, and their Irish ancestors are remembered through memorials around the country.

Here’s how the Americans remember their Irish Great Hunger ancestors:

In Boston, a bronze statue located at the corner of Washington and School Streets on the Freedom Trail depicts a starving woman, looking up to the heavens as if to ask "Why?", while her children cling to her. A second sculpture shows the figures hopeful as they land in Boston.

Buffalo, NY has a stone memorial on its waterfront.

Cambridge, MA has a memorial to the famine on its Common.

Chicago has a Famine Memorial at Chicago Gaelic Park.

Cleveland, A 12-foot-high (3.7 m) stone Celtic cross, located on the east bank of the Cuyahoga River.

In Fairfield, CT a memorial to the Famine victims stands in the chapel of Fairfield University.

In Hamden, CT a collection of art and literature from the Great Famine is on display in the Lender Family Special Collection Room of the Arnold Bernhard Library at Quinnipiac University.

Irish Hills, MI – The Ancient Order of Hibernian's An Gorta Mor Memorial is located on the grounds of St. Joseph's Shrine in the Irish Hills district of Lenawee County. There are thirty-two black stones as the platform, one for each county. The grounds are surrounded with a stone wall. The Lintel is a step from Penrose Quay in Cork Harbour. The project was the result of several years of fundraising by the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Lenewee County. It was dedicated in 2004 by AOH Divisional President, Patrick Maguire, and many political and Irish figures from around the state of Michigan.

Keansburg, NJ
has a Hunger Memorial in Friendship Park on Main Street.

New York City
has the Irish Hunger Memorial, which looks like a sloping hillside with low stone walls and a roofless cabin on one side and a polished wall with lit (or white) lines on the other three sides. The memorial is in Battery Park City, a short walk west from the World Trade Center site. Another memorial exists in V.E. Macy Park in Ardsley, NY about 32 km north of Manhattan.

Philadelphia has a famine memorial at Front and Chestnut Streets, near Penn's Landing. The large bronze sculpture features numerous figures arranged in clusters or vignettes, with the east end depicting the depths of the misery of starvation. The work was dedicated on October 25, 2003 on a 1.75-acre (7,100 m2) site covering I-95 and overlooking the Delaware River. This is a fitting location because many Irish disembarked ships and entered Philadelphia—and the nation—near this area.

has a famine memorial in the form of a dolmen at the Irish Cultural Center.

Portland, OR commissioned a large Celtic cross to be carved in Donegal, Ireland, and positioned on a prominent hill in the city in 2008. Irish President Mary McAleese was present at the unveiling.

Providence, RI has an Irish Famine Memorial along the Riverway, dedicated on November 17, 2007. Sculupture and a commemorative wall are the key elements of an impressive, educational memorial that has beautified the Providence River Walk location. A bronze statue of three Irish figures anchors one end of the site, with a walkway incorporating memorial bricks and flagstones leading to the memorial wall. There, a narrative plaque tells the story of the Great Famine and subsequent Irish immigration to the United States in bas relief. Memorial bricks and flagstones border an outline map depicting the two countries, Ireland and America. Twelve memorial benches along the walkway offer points at which to reflect on the stories and memories described in the relief wall and expressed within the numerous inscriptions.