Posted by: irishhungercomm | September 10, 2010

Famine Echoes: Ireland and the USA

A major event on the Great Irish Famine will take place in New York on 23-4 October. American, Irish and British scholars, journalists and writers will gather at the Seton Shrine, Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, State Street, to explore the impact of the catastrophe that drove millions of survivors across the Atlantic to virtually every part of the USA and Canada. Fittingly, over 100,000 single Irish girls and women were housed in New York’s most famous Mission prior to assimilating into population of New York and beyond. The historic building is located opposite Battery Park and close to the striking Irish Famine Memorial.
Organizers Owen Rodgers, Michael MacDonald and Dr. Ruan O’Donnell launched the concept during a very successful event in Times Square during St. Patrick’s Week 2010 and have now assembled an impressive array of experts on the Famine and its legacy in the USA. Confirmed speakers include renowned historian Dr. Christine Kinealy, author and curator Sinead McCoole and leading Irish-New York authorities Terry Golway and Peter Quinn. Professor Declan Kiberd of University College Dublin is also due to attend.

Kinealy will discuss ‘Living with the legacy of the Great Hunger’ in what promises to be one of the highlights of the event.

Another participant, Dr. Gerard MacAtasney, has co-authored a book with Kinealy on the impact of the Famine in Belfast. He has just completed a new work entitled ‘An Gorta Beag-The 1822 Famine in County Leitrim’. Both are at the cutting edge of Famine research.

McCoole will deliver a lecture entitled ‘Ireland’s Memory – Famine in Mayo’ illustrated with images from the extraordinary Jackie Clarke Collection, Ballina, County Mayo. This will include new  research on the Ballina workhouse, famine in Attymass (where the first deaths in the sector were recorded) and the Slack family whose cottage is now part of the Battery Park memorial.

O’Donnell, an expert on the history of Irish Republicanism, will argue that the anger and displacement caused by the Famine engendered an unprecedented level of revolutionary fervour amongst the Irish communities of New York City which lasted for several generations. This, in turn, profoundly influenced the development of the modern Irish state. According to O’Donnell: ‘the War of Independence in Ireland would have been impossible without the logistic, moral and direct support of Irish America’. O’Donnell works in the University of Limerick and is the Patrick B. O’Donnell Visiting Chair of Irish Studies at the Keogh-Naughton Institute, Notre Dame.

A number of authoritative respondents have been lined up to broaden the dicussion, including Irish America editor Patricia Harty, acclaimed Boston writer Michael MacDonald and the eminent Jim Cullen of the Brehon Law Society.

An ecumenical service for the Famine Dead will be concelebrated on Sunday, 24 October. Admission to all events is free and all are welcome.

Further events on the history, politics and culture of the Irish Diaspora are planned. The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary is located at 7 State Street, New York. (212) 2696865, email  For details of the conference contact Deanna , email



  1. I’m looking forward to attending these events. I just posted an essay on my blog about the first time I heard of the Famine (that I can recall). I was ten and it was young adult novel, of all things, about a girl who escapes the Famine and goes to Boston. Whenever I read about the Great Hunger now–novel, article, nonfiction book–the enormityof what happened never fails to shock me.

  2. Hello,

    Do you the details and program available? for the weekend’s famine event?

    Thank you.

  3. See the post: Famine Echoes published Oct 20, 2010 for full details

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