The Great Clean Up
The following letter has been sent out by Bill Fahey to various groups. These include county, borough, town councils and heritage groups throughout Ireland. The Committee would also like to reach out to local volunteer groups who can help in the project to identify and clean up the mass graves of the Irish Hunger Victims (the so called Famine Victims) and get them ready for Gathering 2013.
This is an appeal to all who can help. Will you please forward the link to this post to all your contacts and ask them to forward it on. This is an effort to create awareness of this special project and by spreading the word this way we can have confidence that we will reach many who will get involved. Small or big involvement will be appreciated as every effort will go towards making this happen.
Many thanks go to Jim Gallagher for his help in composing this letter.
AMERICAN COMMITTEE for the COMMEMORATION of VICTIMS of the IRISH HUNGER (1845-1851)
The Irish Government’s program “Gathering 2013” is designed to attract the Irish diaspora worldwide to visit Ireland next year. Since there has been a significant increase in diaspora interest in the causes and impacts of the Irish Hunger of 1845-1851, this program poses an opportunity to finally dignify the more than one million Irish who died in Ireland during that period. Most who died were unceremoniously dumped into Mass Graves unidentified and without coffins. The program widens the path to connect the dots between the Hunger period in Ireland and the resulting Irish diaspora.
Some outstanding work has already been done at local levels in Ireland to identify Hunger related graves, workhouses and fever hospitals in their localities and to clear the gravesites so as to be accessible for viewing by interested visitors. However, some uncertainty exists as to how many Hunger Graves remain unidentified and uncared for.
Thus, our Committee is asking every County Council in Ireland and all Heritage, Genealogical, Hunger, Arts, etc. committees in their respective counties to attempt to identify all Hunger Graves and workhouses in their districts and, where possible, to prepare them for tourist visits in 2013. Genealogical interests are heightened by the revelation of names of individuals or families from the communities who are interred in the Mass Graves, and, of those who fled death via emigration. Unfortunately, many of the latter found death quickly at sea or in foreign quarantine stations. We hope that, at least, brief “take-away” educational brochures or leaflets, describing the history of the Hunger years in each local area, could be produced for retention by visiting diaspora. Of course, the ultimate dignity to be afforded to the unfortunate victims of the Hunger would be the consecration of the Mass Graves by the Church.
In short, completion of the story of the fate of the victims of the Irish Hunger from local perspectives would be valuable historical, educational and genealogical material for the Irish Diaspora as well as for inclusion in historical archives in Ireland. As an epilogue, Irish culture was decimated during the Hunger period. Yet, within about 30 years the “Gaelic Revival” took root. A focus on that rapid recovery of Irish heritage, as part of this “Gathering” program, would be testimony to the value that the Irish placed on their heritage, and, to their determination and resilience in generating such a program that enriches us all today. The resurgence of these cultural elements could be woven into local Hunger related activities.
We hope that the period of Summer 2012 will allow for county and local organizations to develop and to identify their respective programs based on their resources. Then, the period September through April or May 2013 could allow time to actually carry-out the necessary efforts, as best as can be hoped, in time for the visiting Irish diaspora.
May God guide your heads, hearts and hands.
J. William Fahey, President; E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org