Irvinestown Parish to mark the opening of Famine Memorial Garden this Saturday

19 Aug 2016

Over recent years the people of Irvinestown (parish of Devenish) have created two new beautiful gardens to mark and honour various aspects of the Christian heritage and the shared past of the local community.  Tomorrow evening, they will mark the official opening of a Famine Memorial Garden adjacent to the Sacred Heart church.  The ceremony will be led by the Bishop of Clogher, Most Rev Liam S MacDaid, who will bless the new garden before celebrating the Vigil Mass at 7.00pm.  The faithful are asked to gather at the garden for 6.30pm where there will be music and reflection.

Like the church itself, the Famine Memorial Garden is located adjacent to the site of the old workhouse, a place that featured so prominently in the harrowing scenes of over a century and a half ago.  The new memorial builds on the work already done by a local cross-community group in restoring a famine graveyard nearby and follows from the earlier creation in 2010 of a Garden of the Celtic Saints at Sacred Heart church.  Appropriately too, much of the artistic work on these projects is due to the skill and talent of local man Jonas Raiskas, who came to the locality from Lithuania in recent years and who was commissioned by the parish to create some 20 carvings in the Garden of the Celtic Saints plus those in the new memorial garden.

The Famine Memorial Garden has four distinct parts, namely, the potato field, the famine kitchen, the workhouse door and the emigrant ship.  These are marked by eight carved pieces by Jonas Raiskas.

Commenting this week, local parish priest Canon Michael McGourty said: ‘This memorial calls all of us in the community and beyond to reflect not just on our past but on our present.  It calls us to address the poverty and famine in our own world today and constantly answer the call of the Gospel to reach out to those in need.  Its location and its art does so in a way that brings both the traditional message and the history of Irish Christianity into focus in a profound way.  All are welcome to come to these gardens to pray and reflect.  Everyone will be especially welcome on this Saturday evening when Bishop MacDaid visits us to bless the new memorial garden and to celebrate the Eucharist with us’, he said.


 Notes to Editors

  • The Parish of Irvinestown (Devenish) has two churches – Sacred Heart, completed in 1910 to the design of Prof William Scott, and Saint Molaise’s in Whitehill, which dates from the 1860s.  The Parish Priest of Irvinestown is Canon Michael McGourty.
  • The Diocese of Clogher encompasses all of County Monaghan, most of County Fermanagh and portions of Tyrone, Donegal, Louth and Cavan.  It has 37 parishes and Catholic population of some 88,000.  Bishop Liam MacDaid has been the Bishop of Clogher since July 2010.                                                     

For media contact:

Clogher Diocesan Office, Bishop’s House, Monaghan, Tel. +3534781019 or email: [email protected]; Gary Carville, Diocesan Communications & Media Officer, +353871767226 or email: [email protected]; Irvinestown Parish Tel 028 (048 from ROI) 68628600.

Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long +353 (0) 86 172 7678