Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Famine Memorial, Custom House Quay, Dublin, Ireland


Filled with the spirit of gratitude for all that I have in my own life, I approached this installation by artist Rowan Gillespie.  As the world passes by, with people going about their daily business, it can be easy to forget how so many Irish struggled just to survive, and the fact that so many of them did not.  In the midst of morning traffic, a strange sort of quiet descended on this small part of the Custom House Quay where the figures stand, in memory of all those Irish who lost their lives to the Great Famine, An Gorta Mór, of 1845-1852, and I realized the loss is an unfathomable one.


The Irish Quarterly Review of 1854 offered the following commentary on the great number of starving Irish walking along the Liffey to board the famine ships at the quays:

"A procession fraught with most striking and most melancholy interest, wending its painful and mournful way along the whole line of the river to where the beautiful pile of the Custom house is indistinguishable in the far distance."

Although An Gorta Mór is probably the best known of the 'great' famines, the Irish suffered through two other periods of widespread famine, the famine of 1740-41, and the famine of 1879, known as An Gorta Beag.  In addition to this, throughout Ireland during many periods there were food shortages, particularly in the west country.  The medallion on the grounds of this installation reminds us of our responsibility to ensure that human beings the world over never again suffer in this way. It reads:

Wherever
Men and Women
are condemned to live in
poverty, human rights are violated.
To come together to ensure that these
rights are respected is our solemn duty.





Click on photographs to view larger version.
All photographs Copyright©J.Geraghty-Gorman 2011.

8 comments:

  1. Those pictures are haunting, and to think that the occupiers of the island did nothing to prevent it. And the treatment continues in the world today.

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  2. Hi Claudia,

    Thank you for your comments; much appreciated and so true.

    Cheers,
    Jennifer

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  3. Seeing this memorial in your photographs brought tears to my eyes. I could feel their suffering. A picture paints a thousand words.

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  4. Hello Catherine,

    Thank you for your comments; they are much appreciated. I am glad that you were moved by the images.

    Cheers,
    Jennifer

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  5. What an evocative and haunting memorial...it captures the essence of starvation and desperation so effectively. I can't believe I didn't know about it when last in Dublin but I will certainly do so the next time. Thank you for showing it to us.

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  6. Hi Pauleen,

    Thank you for your comments; they are much appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Jennifer

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  7. What heart wrenching images. Surely my relatives who left Ireland at that time were escaping this awful fate. I knew it, but now I feel it. Jen

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  8. Hi Jen,

    Thanks for your comments; they are much appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Jennifer

    ReplyDelete

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