Take a tour with the designer of the Irish Hunger Memorial this May 3 in New York’s Battery City Park.

Expand your knowledge of the experience of Irish famine immigrants in New York with this special multidisciplinary tour and learn how “An Gorta Mór” (the Great Hunger) shaped our history, both in Ireland and in New York.

The memorial walk and talk will begin with the artist, Brian Tolle, discussing the memorial itself, followed by discussion on the experience of Irish-Americans in New York, the Famine that drove them here, and the landscape and flora of Ireland.

Tolle will discuss the choices he made in the memorial’s design and how the piece serves as a contemporary monument dedicated to the remembrance of world hunger.

Staff horticulturist, Richard Fariano, will follow this with a discussion on the ways in which staff maintain the surprisingly difficult recreation of an abandoned Irish field on a cared for and cultivated plot of land.

Historian Lynn Rogers will also be on hand to talk on the history of the Great Hunger and the immigrants’ experience arriving in the New York City of the 19th century.

Following the main event, the tour will continue to Whitehall Street Ferry Terminal, where it will board the Staten Island Ferry. The journey will take in where immigrant ships entered New York Harbor and the placement of the infamous Quarantine Hospital. The commemoration will finish with the laying of flowers in the memory of the thousands of immigrants who entered New York and did not survive and the further thousands who did not make it that far. 

When the memorial opened in 2002, it was heralded by the New York Times as “unconventional work of public art that strikes a deep emotional chord, sums up its artistic moment for a broad audience and expands the understanding of what a public memorial can be.”

The Irish Hunger Memorial depicts a rural Irish landscape complete with an abandoned stone cottage, stone walls, fallow potato fields and the flora of the north Connacht wetlands.

This free event will run between 2 and 3pm on May 3, meeting at the memorial itself, located at Vesey Street and North End Avenue in Battery Park City. In the event of rain, attendees are asked to meet at 6 River Terrace.

More information on the event can be found at: http://bpcparks.org/event/irish-hunger-memorial-tour/