Newry to host Famine memorial event

Heather Humphreys
Heather Humphreys

The Famine Commemoration will take place in Northern Ireland for the first time, it has been announced.

Newry will host the September 26 event, which has been rotated between the four provinces since its inception eight years ago.

Heather Humphreys, the Republic’s Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, said: “The annual Famine Commemoration is a solemn tribute to those who suffered in the most appalling circumstances that prevailed during the Great Famine.

“While the scale of suffering was greater in some parts of Ireland than in others, all parts of the island suffered great loss of life and the destruction of families and communities through emigration.”

The Famine Commemoration committee said Newry had made a strong application with enthusiasm shown from the local community.

Clones in Co Monaghan was the venue for the 2011 event - the last time it was held in Ulster.

Ms Humphreys added: “I look forward to engaging with the local community in Newry, as they bring their unique perspective to remembering one of the most important events in our shared history, and as an Ulster woman, I look forward to participating in the event in Newry in September.”

Northern Ireland Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin said there was cross-party political support for staging the commemoration north of the border.

She said: “The famine was a time of unspeakable horror and hardship throughout Ireland. It was not held at bay by creed or boundaries drawn on any map. It is important that we take time to remember the plight of our ancestors who died from starvation and disease or who were forced into exile, never to return to their native shores.

“Nor can we forget those who died on the famine ships as they tried to escape their plight in Ireland or the grief and pain of those who were left behind.”