Monday 20 May 2019

National Famine Commemoration held in Sligo

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD officiated at the National Famine Commemoration in Sligo, yesterday. He will be accompanied by the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan T.D.

The formal State ceremony, which is held annually in one of Ireland's four provinces on a rotating basis, included military honours and a wreath laying ceremony by Ambassadors to Ireland in remembrance of all those who suffered or perished during the Famine.

The community programme included performances by local musicians and the sixty-voice Sligo Famine Choir, which was formed specially for the national event.

The Commemoration also saw the re-launch of a booklet produced by the County Sligo Famine Commemoration Committee in 1997 to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Famine. It has been reprinted and copies will be distributed to local schools.

Following the formal ceremony, the Model Arts Centre hosted a preview of the trailer for Lost Children of The Carricks, written and directed by Professor Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin.

Speaking at the event An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD said:

“The Famine was the single most traumatic event in Irish history. Every county has its own famine story, and the story in Sligo was terrible and tragic. There were 162 sailings from the Port of Sligo, between 1847 and 1851, the majority of them to Canada and the United States. Some 13,000 people left in Black ‘47 alone. 440 people set off from here in the ‘Bark Larch’ to Quebec. Many of these died without ever setting foot on shore. The few who did land on Grosse Ile received comfort from Fr. Bernard McGauran, himself from Sligo.

“I believe the best way we can honour those who suffered and died during the Great Famine is by showing empathy with those who are experiencing similar problems today, whether through natural disaster or oppression. Our country has a longstanding commitment to working for the eradication of poverty and hunger in the world. We were refugees once and we recall the great compassion and the open doors shown around the world. It is seared on our collective memories as we work to assist today’s refugees.”