2016 National Famine Commemoration to take place in September in Glasnevin, Dublin
Minister Humphreys announces date of National Famine Commemoration 2016
The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee, Heather Humphreys TD, has today (Wednesday) announced that this year’s National Famine Commemoration will take place on Sunday, 11th September at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.
The State commemoration at Glasnevin will be enriched by the participation of the local community and local schools. The ceremony will involve National flag and military honours before culminating in a solemn wreath-laying.
Speaking today, Minister Humphreys said:
“This will be the 9th consecutive year in which the National Famine Commemoration has taken place and each commemoration has afforded us an excellent opportunity to pay tribute to the memory of those of our forebears who perished, emigrated and suffered during the Famine, which had such a profound impact on the island of Ireland.
“I am particularly pleased that the ceremony will take place in Glasnevin Cemetery, the resting place of so many of our national heroes, during this most important of centenary years. Glasnevin has been the location for a number of very respectful commemoration ceremonies throughout 2016, and I have no doubt it will serve as a fitting location for this year’s famine commemoration.
“I would like to thank the National Famine Commemoration Committee for their work and Glasnevin Trust for agreeing to stage the commemoration at the iconic Dublin cemetery. My Department and I look forward to working with the Trust and the local community in the area, as well as with our colleagues in the Office of Public Works, to deliver a fitting commemoration of the Famine at this hallowed site.”
The decision to hold the National Famine Commemoration in Glasnevin was largely inspired by Michael Blanch, who had been campaigning for recognition of its historical significance as a mass burial site of famine victims.
By Mary Dennehy
A TALLAGHT family is the driving force behind a campaign for a memorial to the victims of An Gorta Mor in Glasnevin Cemetery, which is the biggest mass grave of Irish Famine victims.
Lobbied for by the Committee for the Commemoration of Irish Famine Victims (CCIFV), the memorial will represent all of the unmarked Famine graves in Glasnevin Cemetery, across Ireland and overseas.
Raheen resident Micheal Blanch, who founded CCIFV with his family, and was instrumental in the development of a National Famine Commemoration Day, told The Echo: “Dublin was the epicentre of the Famine people flocking to the city for work, food, emigration and, sadly, dying when they got here.
“That’s how Glasnevin Cemetery holds the most victims of An Gorta Mor in the world, and it’s important the victims are remembered with a fitting memorial – after more than 170 years of national amnesia.
“The memorial will symbolise all the victims of the Great Hunger who lie in unmarked grass on the island of Ireland, at the bottom of the sea in a watery grave and those overseas in unmarked graves – they will all be remembered in our national cemetery in Glasnevin.”
Speaking to The Echo, Micheal expressed his frustration over the delay in getting approval for the memorial, which he has designed with the support of Tallaght business, Craft Monuments.
As part of the memorial, CCIFV has contacted county and city councils across the island of Ireland inviting them to donate a flagstone with the county’s name inscribed on it – with each local authority paying for their own flagstone.
CCIFV is also willing to pay for the memorial, so is not seeking funding.
“This memorial will cost the Government or Glasnevin very little, so there really is no excuse,” Micheal said.
“However, the memorial will only happen when the Government and Glasnevin are given a little hoosh by bringing it to the public’s attention, bringing it out for discussion.
“It is hard to defend the biggest mass graves of Famine victims in the world and no memorial to them, what sort of society are we to allow this to go on.
“The computer image of the memorial has been shown to many independent people and they have all said it is a fitting memorial, let the people decide.”
A spokesman for Glasnevin Trust told The Echo: “Glasnevin Trust has had correspondence with Michael Blanch in which it has expressed its view that any famine memorial placed in Glasnevin Cemetery must be at the behest of the Irish Government and has advised that any application for such a memorial should have the full approval of the relevant government department together with agreed funding for the monument and its future upkeep.”