At the Irish Famine Memorial in St. Stephen's Green in Dublin, the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan T.D., evoked the words of the late Eavan Boland, who passed away this year, and her poem “Quarantine”.

Madigan said: “In her poem Quarantine, the late Eavan Boland movingly evoked the efforts of a loving husband to support his wife with the last of his strength when she said:

She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.

The heroes of the Famine that we honour also sought to lift and carry those who fell or could not keep up. That same spirit of caring and self-sacrifice that is embedded in the caring professions, is being seen again today as our health workers embrace the challenge of caring for those affected by COVID-19. We honour and respect these modern-day heroes and value their courage. Perhaps we can best show our appreciation for their work, and the efforts of their forebears during the Great Famine, by adhering to those small acts of heroism we are called upon to perform in the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and to come through these testing times, just as our ancestors once did.”

Read more: Great Hunger likened to coronavirus pandemic during Ireland's National Famine Commemoration

The ceremony also included military honours and a wreath-laying ceremony "in remembrance of all those who suffered or perished during the Famine". The ceremony opened with Aimee Banks singing a rendition of Brendan Graham’s "Crucán na bPáiste" and closed with National Anthem performed by an army piper.

The ceremony was originally slated to be held in Buncrana, Donegal this year, but had to be deferred due to COVID-19.  Today's event was not open to the public and was conducted in accordance with the country's current health and safety guidelines.  

The Strokestown Park National Famine Museum is holding a series of online events, commemorating the Great Irish Famine in Ireland and abroad.  More information is available on their website, Great Famine Voices Roadshow.

Read more: “Ireland remembers” - Irish donations help raise more than $2.6mil for Native Americans

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