A plaque commemorating a Polish explorer, scientist and philanthropist who helped victims of the Famine has been erected in Dublin.
At a ceremony in Sackville Place last week, Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke and Mayor of Poznań Jacek Jaśkowiak unveiled the plaque honoring Sir Paweł Edmund Strzelecki.
Strzelecki was an explorer and geologist who spent a great deal of his earlier adult life in Australia. Having settled in Britain and gained British citizenship Strzelecki’s involvement in Ireland began.
At the end of 1846, the Great Irish Famine was under way and the British Relief Association formed with the sum of £500,000. Strzelecki was assigned the position as agent to superintend the distribution of supplies in County Sligo and County Mayo.
He devoted himself to his task although for a time he was incapacitated by famine fever. Through 1847 and 1848 he worked in Dublin as sole agent for the association. In recognition of his services he was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in November 1848. Strzelecki also helped impoverished Irish families to seek new lives in Australia.
The mayor of Dublin said it was a “great pleasure” to unveil the plaque as Strzelecki “did so much for the Irish people during one of the darkest periods of our history.”
Tánaiste Joan Burton, who was present at the unveiling, said she is “greatly struck by the ideals of solidarity and human compassion Paweł Edmund Strzelecki’s life and work represent.”
“I can think of few better representatives of the positive influence of the Polish people in Ireland. So let’s honour him and cherish his memory.
“Just as we should cherish the hundreds of thousands of contributions our Polish community has made to the modern, inclusive Ireland we’re building today. I hope to see our two nations grow even closer in the years ahead.”
The unveiling ceremony was part of the PolskaÉire festival celebrating the Polish community in Ireland.
The plaque was funded by the people of Poznań and the Poznań Irish Culture Foundation, and erected with the support of the Irish Polish Society, Dublin City Council, the Polish Embassy and Clerys department store.
Here's a short biography of Paweł Edmund Strzelecki:Read more: Why the real story of the Irish Famine is not taught in U.S. schools