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Sinn Féin councillor Thérèse Ruane

Major famine memorial for Mayo planned in time for The Gathering event in 2013

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Sinn Féin councillor Thérèse Ruane

A memorial to the famine victims will be erected in Mayo to coincide with the Gathering festival for the Irish Diaspora next year.

A proposal by Sinn Féin councillor, Thérèse Ruane, at the recent council meeting to commemorate the Famine victims in Mayo, was passed unanimously according to Mayo Today.

According to Councillor Ruane, “It is past time that we honor the many thousands who died in the Castlebar workhouse, the major workhouse in Mayo, including many tenants who had been evicted from the Lucan and Palmer estates.”

The Castlebar politician said that 2013, the year of The Gathering of the Irish Diaspora, would “be an ideal time to give the men women and children who died here the honor and respect they deserve by erecting a memorial in their memory.”

Councillor Ruane said, “Castlebar workhouse was the major workhouse in Mayo, a place of great suffering for many thousands of unfortunate men, women and children.

"Many victims died and were buried here at the workhouse which occupied at 7 acre site where the Sacred Heart Home stands today. Castlebar Poor Law Union was formed in 1839 and the workhouse built between 1840-42; it admitted its first inmates on 22 October 1846.

"It was the responsibility of the local landlord to fund the workhouse. During the Famine, many evicted tenants from the Lucan and Palmer estates died of hunger and fever and are buried in the workhouse graveyard; many were refused entry and died in its vicinity.

"Lord Lucan, notorious for his negligence and cruelty closed the workhouse, despite vehement protest from the Poor Law Commissioner in 1847 during the height of the Famine due to the cost of financing it.

"Indeed, records in British Parliamentary Papers in 1847 give damning reports of the shocking conditions in the Castlebar workhouse. When Ballina, Swinford  workhouses  closed in the 1920s the inmates were transferred to Castlebar. It was finally demolished in 1970 and a new County home was built on the site.

“This is a very historic place, a place of great suffering for many victims of poverty and famine. Many people are unaware of the existence of the workhouse on this site. It's really important that we record our local history and commemorate the people who died and suffered here.

"I welcome the show of unanimous support of the council members for a memorial to be erected at this site so that future generations are fully aware of its historical significance and of the great suffering that our ancestors suffered here. 2013, the year of The Gathering of the Irish Diaspora is an ideal time to give these victims the honor and respect they deserve."

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