Feature 15 May 2009 | Remembering the Irish Famine

07 May 2009


Bishops’ statement welcoming the National Famine Commemoration Day on 17 May remembers the past and reflects on hunger and famine today. Liturgy notes, information for parishes and the 1995 pastoral letter Remembering the Irish Famine available here.

Statement from the Bishops of Ireland on the occasion of the first National Famine Commemoration Day, Sunday, 17 May 2009

“The love of Christ urges us on.” (2 Cor 5:14)

We welcome the Government’s decision to institute an annual National Famine Commemoration Day, which offers us a valuable opportunity to remember the past and reflect on the themes of hunger and famine in the present day. In the pastoral letter Remembering the Irish Famine, issued by the Irish Bishops’ Conference in 1995, we called to mind that “a million people died and approximately two million were forced to emigrate during the famine and shortly afterwards.” In addition, many people gave their lives in loving service to the sick. This event resulted in countless personal tragedies, and shaped our collective history as a people. It deserves to be remembered with due solemnity.

Fourteen years after Remembering the Irish Famine, we find ourselves “in a world which is still ravaged by the effects of famine and hunger.” Indeed, hunger and famine affects even more people today than in 1995: over 963 million people do not have enough to eat each day; one child dies every six seconds from malnutrition and related causes; tens of thousands of people are still forced to become refugees each year as a result of hunger. Read more …

Information and resources from the Bishops’ Conference

cover_programmeInformation on the State’s commemorative events

  • Skibbereen has been chosen as the host town for the first provincial National Famine Memorial Day in 2009. There will be a ceremonial event in Skibbereen on Sunday the 17th of May and a corresponding one held in Canada on Sunday the 10th of May. Between these two dates, the people of Skibbereen have come together to put together a programme of Famine-related events. There will be music, drama, talks and a variety of commemorative events organised by the people of the locality. For full details see www.skibbheritage.com


About the title image

The Famine Memorial statues were presented to the City of Dublin in 1997. These statues were designed and crafted by Dublin sculptor Rowan Gillespie. The Famine statues are located on Custom House Quay.

This location is particularly appropriate and historic as one of the first voyages of the Famine period was on ‘the Perseverance’, which sailed from Custom House Quay on St. Patrick’s Day 1846.

Captain William Scott, a native of the Shetland Isles, was a veteran of the Atlantic crossing, gave up his office job in New Brunswick to take ‘the Perseverance’ out of Dublin. He was 74 years old.

The Steerage fare on ‘the Perseverance’ was £3 and 210 passengers made the historical journey. They landed in New York on the 18th May 1846. All passengers and crew survived the journey.