Visit the Irish Great Hunger memorial in New York’s Financial District without ever setting foot in Manhattan.
Just north of Battery Park, New York’s Irish Great Hunger memorial in the city’s Financial District is a must-see park for any visitor to the city. If a trip to Manhattan is not on the cards, however, this brilliant video from Curbed NY will show you every nook and cranny of this beautiful piece of rural countryside Ireland nestled within the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.
The Irish Great Hunger Memorial New York sits on a half-acre site, transforming a part of the city into a perfect haven for Irish people and lovers of Ireland alike as they search the wild Irish field, stocked with plants and shrubs similar to those found in the Emerald Isle, for their particular Irish county stone. When the memorial was first being developed, then Irish President Mary McAleese wished to send a gift, sourcing a stone from each of the 32 Irish counties and engraving it with its county title before the artist set them at various points around the ground for visitors to explore.
The main focal point of the memorial, however, is an original Irish 19th-century cottage which was shipped brick by brick from the west coast of Ireland across the Atlantic to New York and reconstructed to pay tribute to the some one million people who died and one million people who emigrated during the Great Hunger in Ireland during the 1840s. The memorial also remembers, however, that hunger is still far from eradicated from the world, calling attention to the various countries still suffering through famine in words visible through glass under the limestone plinth as you walk into the cottage entrance.
Designed by artist Brian Tolle, the cottage featured in the memorial is, in fact, a building that belonged to the family of his partner in Ireland. In a beautiful gesture of “the family that stayed, giving to the family that left,” they allowed the transportation of the 1820s cottage to play the central role in the Hunger Memorial.
Bringing together the 1820s cottage with stones from around Ireland and 500-billion-year old rocks from Kilkenny, Totte has succeeded in his artistic goal: creating a place of commemoration and contemplation about world hunger.
First opening in 2002, the downtown Manhattan memorial was closed throughout 2016 and much of 2017 for a $5 million, year-long renovation before opening again last July 28. Now standing at the site for 15 years, Hurricane Sandy had hurried along the decay of the memorial leaving it with waterproofing and drainage issues and forcing it to close.