The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, has announced that the 2015 Famine Commemoration will take place on Saturday, 26th September, in Newry, County Down.
In recognition of the fact that the Great Famine affected all parts of the island, the location of the annual Commemoration has rotated in sequence between the four provinces since the first Commemoration took place in Dublin in 2008 and falls to Ulster in 2015.
The Minister and the Famine Commemoration Committee welcomed Newry’s strong application, the enthusiasm shown by the local community in Newry for the project and their determination to mark the occasion in a fitting, respectful and inclusive manner. The Northern Ireland Executive supports the proposition of holding the event in Newry in 2015 and the opportunity this cross-border initiative provides to highlight the impact of the Famine on all traditions and communities across Ireland. The newly-established Newry, Mourne and Down District Council will play the lead role in organising the Commemoration. The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure will work with the Council and other stakeholders in maximising the reach of the Commemoration and its associated activities.
Speaking today, Minister Humphreys said:
“I am very pleased to announce that, following consultation with the Northern Ireland Executive, this year’s famine Commemoration will be held in Newry. This is the eighth year in which the Great Famine has been marked with a formal Commemoration and the first time that the Commemoration will take place in Northern Ireland.
“The annual Famine Commemoration is a solemn tribute to those who suffered in the most appalling circumstances that prevailed during the Great Famine. While the scale of suffering was greater in some parts of Ireland than in others, all parts of the island suffered great loss of life and the destruction of families and communities through emigration.
“In this Commemoration, we remember all those who suffered, those who died, those who survived but who lost family members, those who were forced to emigrate and those who remained in Ireland but suffered other forms of loss because of the Great Famine.
“I attended the Commemoration in 2011 when it was held in Clones, Co Monaghan – the last time it took place in Ulster. It was very moving to witness the involvement of the entire community in the event and in particular, the participation of children. I look forward to engaging with the local community in Newry, as they bring their unique perspective to remembering one of the most important events in our shared history, and as an Ulster woman, I look forward to participating in the event in Newry in September.”