16/10/2011 Minister Deenihan remembers victims of the Great Famine in Liverpool on World Food Day 2011
Sunday 16th October, 2011 Jimmy Deenihan T.D., Minister Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht and Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee, remembered the victims of the Great Famine who travelled to Liverpool in the 1800’s to escape the effects of the famine in Ireland.
It is estimated that between 1849 and 1852, 1,241,410 Irish emigrants arrived in Liverpool. Many who travelled died there shortly after their arrival or indeed en route. In Liverpool parish in 1847 alone, over 7000 people were buried in mass graves. Thousands more were buried in surrounding parishes. Some emigrants travelled onwards to countries such as America or Australia, however, some prospered in Liverpool and the strong relationship between the citizens of Ireland and our Liverpool ancestors confirms this.
The Minister attended a ceremony commemorating the victims of the famine at the Irish Famine Memorial in the grounds of St. Luke’s Church, Leece Street, Liverpool which was unveiled by President Mary McAleese in 1998. The ceremony was attended by many of the Irish Diaspora living in Liverpool.
The Minister commented: “The Great Famine resulted in a disproportionately strong representation of the Irish among the nations formed through emigration in the later 19th and early 20th centuries. These diaspora communities still demonstrate a significant affinity with their migrant predecessors of the Famine and there is strong evidence of this affinity here in Liverpool”.
The Minister also took the opportunity to attend the Liverpool Irish Festival and attended a performance entitled “Comings and Goings” – a series of dramatic scenes illustrating the wave of migration from Ireland to Liverpool which began with the potato famine of 1845-62 and continued with departures to America, South Africa and Australia throughout the 19th century.
The event coincided with World Food Day 2011 and the Minister said: “It is fitting that this ceremony takes place on World Food Day. One of the aims of World Food Day is to heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world; the purpose of this Commemoration is not only to remember the victims of the past but to raise awareness of famine issues all over the world. The legacy of the famine in Ireland includes a deep compassion felt by Irish people for those who suffer from hunger in today’s world and a very strong commitment to humanitarian aid and relief. Although we can say that famine in Ireland or England may not be likely in our time there are other parts of the world experiencing famine today.”