Irish Canadian Famine Research

Irish Canadian Famine Research

Category: Michael Blanch

“Saving the Famine Irish” Grey Nuns Exhibit Opens at EPIC Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin

Epic Grey Nuns launch 6.jpg

Dr Jason King (Irish Heritage Trust) and Professor Christine Kinealy (Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute, Quinnipiac University), curators of the “Saving the Famine Irish” exhibition at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum.

EPIC will be hosting a temporary exhibition charting the experiences Irish Famine refugees in Canada. “Saving the Famine Irish: The Grey Nuns and the Great Hunger” tells the story of the religious orders in Montreal whose members gave selflessly to Irish immigrants during the summer of 1847 – their time of greatest need. The exhibition runs in Unit 5-6 of CHQ from 30/03/2017 until 22/04/2017.

Epic Grey Nuns launch 1.jpg

From left: Caroilin Callery (Irish National Famine Museum), Christine Kinealy (Quinnipiac University), Jason King (Irish Heritage Trust), Fiona Ross (Epic), Robert Kearns (Ireland Park Foundation).

Many thousands of people fled from Ireland during the Great Hunger and immigrated to Canada. Famine immigrants to Montreal were not only among the poorest of the poor, but many of them arrived already sick with typhus fever. Despite this, a number of people in the English and French Canadian communities provided the ailing and the dying with shelter and support. In the forefront of this compassionate movement were the Sisters of Charity, also known as the Grey Nuns. The exhibition is co-presented by EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum and Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University. It is currently on display to mark the 170th anniversary of ‘Black 47’, the high point of the Great Irish Famine.

Epic Grey Nuns launch 3.jpg

Jason King, Christine Kinealy, Michael Blanch, Fiona Ross.







New Deadline for Abstracts March 17: Children and the Great Hunger in Ireland Conference, Quinnipiac University June 14-17 2017



CFP: Children and the Great Hunger in Ireland Conference


Call for Papers: Children and the Great Hunger in Ireland

Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, in partnership with the Irish Heritage Trust at StrokestownPark, is hosting an international conference,

“Children and the Great Hunger in Ireland.” In any sustained period of food hunger and famine, children are one of the most vulnerable groups in terms of disease and mortality. The Great Hunger that occurred in Ireland between 1845 and 1852 is no exception. This conference will explore the impact of famine on children and young adults. While the focus will be on Ireland’s Great Hunger, a comparative approach is encouraged. It is anticipated that a selection of papers will be published.

  • Children and poor relief •Children and philanthropy •Abandonment and societal shame •Children’s literature and children in literature •Visual representations of children and young adults •Childhood diseases •Vagrancy and prostitution •Children and crime •Averted births and demography •Proselytizing the young •Children in print and material culture •Teaching the Great Hunger •The Earl Grey Scheme •The churches and children •Children in folklore •Sport and leisure •Famine and the family •Children of the Big House •Children and emigration •Memory and survivors’ accounts •Witness accounts •Memorializing the young

Papers are welcomed from all disciplines and from both established scholars and new researchers. Abstracts of 250-300 words for 20-minute papers or proposals for roundtable sessions on specific themes, together with 100-word biographical statements, should be directed to:

Professor Christine Kinealy: And Dr Jason King:

Deadline for receipt of abstracts 31 January 2017

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.  April 18, 2016

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.”