The International Commemoration of the Irish Famine will be held in Boston this year, the Irish government has announced.
An estimated one million Irish fled Ireland and one million died of starvation between 1845 and 1849.
Hundreds of thousands landed in Boston on the coffin ships, among them the forefathers of John F. Kennedy and Henry Ford.
The announcement was made by Jimmy Deenihan, the Irish Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, on a visit to the Irish Hunger Memorial at Battery Park City, in New York on Saturday. The minister is on an official visit to New York and is attending a number of events in conjunction with Culture Ireland, according to the Irish Times.
The overseas commemoration will coincide with the annual National Famine Commemoration which will take place in Drogheda County Louth in May. Drogheda was the second largest port of departure from Ireland for the more than one million people forced to emigrate during the Famine years.
Deenihan said he looked forward to working with the community in Boston to ensure that the “victims of the Famine are remembered and respected in a dignified manner."
Councilor Michael O’Dowd, the former Mayor of Drogheda, has welcomed the announcement that Boston will be the international center to commemorate the Irish Famine in 2012, with Drogheda chosen to be the venue for the National events.
"This is really good news for Drogheda as there are historical linkages between Drogheda and Boston that we will now be able to build on," he said.
"One of Boston’s most famous citizens was John Boyle O’Reilly, who lived in Dowth and worked in Drogheda prior to his exile. While John Boyle O’Reilly arrived in Boston post the Famine, nonetheless this announcement will be the catalyst to create a lasting bond between our two communities.
"I have already spoken to the Drogheda based John Boyle O’Reilly society about this. The Famine commemoration will allow both communities to reflect on our common past and work together to banish hunger and famine from our world.”
Previous international commemorations of the Famine have been held in Canada, New York and Liverpool.
The dates for the events will be announced in the coming weeks.