March 9, 2017

Irish Famine Memorial

The Irish Famine was a period of mass starvation, disease, and emigration in Ireland between 1845 and 1852. As a result of the Famine, the country population drop 25%.

The famine was caused by mold that was growing on the potatoes. Many Irish depended on potatoes as the food source due to strict land regulations. In addition, years of oppression on the Catholic Irish caused people to live just below the poverty line.

Boston was seen as a beacon of hope, and many Irish emigrated to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to escape the rough conditions in Ireland.

The Irish suffered job discrimination with people putting up signs in store windows which read, "Irish need no apply." People saw the mass migration as a threat to the skillful workforce.

In 1998, Boston dedicated a memorial to the Irish Famine.

Irish Statues

Things that I learned about the Irish Famine Memorial

  • Cost $1 Million to put together
  • Located on the Freedom Trail, across from the Old South meeting House
  • The original idea for the memorial started in 1991, but never amounted to any real project
  • Original location was to be someplace near Faneuil Hall
  • Thomas J. Flatley took ownership of the project in 1996 and made the memorial a reality.
  • More than 7,000 people attended the dedication on Sunday, June 28, 1998.
  • Dedicated as part of the 150th anniversary of THE GREAT HUNGER.
  • Cardinal Law visited the site after the Dedication Ceremony and blessed the memorial with Holy Water from Ireland.
  • Robert Shure, of Skylight Studios, made the two statues.
  • Robert Shure also created the statues at the Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial which was dedicated on November 17, 2007.
  • Robert Shure also did the Boston Marathon Memorial (!996) and the Massachusetts Fallen Fireman Memorial (2007).
  • The two statues are Bronze on granite base.
  • Thomas J. Flatley, Committee Chairman, was an immigrant who arrived from Ireland in 1950 with $32 in his pocket.
  • Thomas J. Flatley, died on May 17, 2008 with an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion.

What are the statues of?

There are two statue monuments in the memorial.

  • One of the statues show a family suffering from the Famine. ( It looks very similar to an 1849 depiction of Bridget O'Donnell and her two children during the famine.)
  • The other shows a family doing well.

Some people say that the two monuments demonstrate how the potato famine impacted the poor and the rich.

The Eight Plaques

There are eight plaques around the memorial which tells the cause and effect of the Irish Famine:

  • Dying of Hunger - Starting in 1845, a virulent fungus devastated the potato crop....
  • AN GORTA MOR - The Great Hunger of 1845-50
  • The People were Gaunt - Starvation and disease spread across the Irish landscape claiming 1 million lives
  • Boston Sends Help - On March 27, 1847 Boston sends a ship of supplies.
  • Crossing the Bowl of Tears -Two Million people fled Ireland in vessels that were called Coffin Ships.
  • Arriving in Boston - In 1847, 37,000 Irish arrived in Boston...
  • The American Dream - Today 44 million American claim Irish ancestry
  • Lest We Forget.- The conditions that produced the Irish famine...still exist today.

Memorial Location

The memorial is located on Boston's Freedom Trail at the corner of Washington St. and School St. It's right between the "Old Corner Bookstore" and the "Old South Meeting House."

The memorial is not an official site on the Boston Freedom Trail.

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