Irish history scholars will gather at Quinnipiac University from June 1-3 for “Famine Summer School: Heroes of Black ‘47,” an academic conference to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the worst year of the Irish Famine.  

Christine Kinealy, director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac, will kick off the conference at 5:30 pm, leading a 5K walk in memory of Irish and Ukrainian refugees. The walk will start at the Farmington Canal Trail on Sherman Avenue in Hamden.

Following the walk, attendees are invited to nearby Mikro Depot, Depot Avenue, for a 6:30 pm talk by two historians who helped launch Ireland’s National Famine Way, a 100-mile walk from Roscommon to Dublin, recreating the route taken by 1,490 famine refugees in 1847.

The conference will continue on June 2 at 9:30 am with the panel discussion, “Ireland and Ukraine: The Past is Not Over,” at the Arnold Bernhard Library at Quinnipiac, 275 Mount Carmel Avenue. Panelists will include Kinealy, who will explain how famine is used as a weapon; Joe McDonagh of Hamden, who will discuss “Imaging Famines in Ukraine and Ireland;” and the Reverend Jordan Lenaghan, executive director of university religious life at Quinnipiac, who will talk about his recent humanitarian mission to the Poland-Ukraine border.

Gerard Moran, emeritus professor at Galway University, will deliver the keynote address, “Sending Back Ireland’s Paupers: The Repatriation of the Irish from Britain During the Great Hunger,” at 11 am.

After Moran’s talk, Jason King, academic coordinator of the Irish Heritage Trust, which operates the National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park, will screen "Great Famine Voices," a series of open house and digital events in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.  "The Famine Irish in Chicago," featuring Professor Sean Farrell of Northern Illinois University, also will be screened.

The conference will then move to the Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center, 1 State Street, New Haven, for “Nothing Kills Like Hunger,” a presentation by Kirk Prichard, vice president of programs for Concern U.S. His talk starts at 3:30 pm.

On June 3, the conference will shift to the Center for Religion at Quinnipiac, where experts will participate in a 10 am roundtable discussion on “Heroes of Ireland’s Great Hunger.” The conference will conclude with a reception to launch Kinealy’s latest two books, "Heroes of Ireland’s Great Hunger" and "More Heroes of Ireland’s Great Hunger."

All events are free, but donations on behalf of Ukraine are welcome. For more information, visit To register, contact Celeste Valentino at

*This column first appeared in the May 18 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.