Posted by: irishhungercomm | August 18, 2015

The Great Famine Commemoration 2015


The Great Famine

Posted by: irishhungercomm | August 18, 2015

2015 Irish Famine Commemoration, Newry, County Down.


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.”

Posted by: irishhungercomm | August 18, 2015

2015 International Famine Commemoration


Heather Humphreys, T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has announced that New Brunswick, Canada is the location for the 2015 International Famine Commemoration, to be held in October.

Minister Humphreys commented that “As Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee, I am very much looking forward to working with the Irish diaspora communities in New Brunswick to stage a fitting commemoration in October. During the years of the Famine Ireland’s demographic and cultural landscape was transformed forever. Many fled on ships bound for Canada in search of new lives and those who survived the journey contributed to the establishment of our large diaspora there. They showed immense courage, strength and endurance during that time and their descendants have established solid foundations in their adopted home while never forgetting the circumstances which brought them there. We here at home and those in the diaspora in New Brunswick remain allied by our shared understanding and empathy for our ancestors and I am sure the commemoration in October will be a suitable tribute to those who suffered and perished during the Great Irish Famine and also those who currently experience famine in the world today.”

Further details in relation to the programme for the International Famine Commemoration will be announced over the coming months. If you have any further queries please contact

Posted by: irishhungercomm | August 18, 2015

Australian Monument to the Great Irish Famine


The Australian Monument to the Great Irish Famine (1845-1852) is located at the Hyde Park Barracks, on Macquarie Street, Sydney, Australia. The monument was inspired by the arrival in Australia of over 4,000 single young women, most of whom were teenagers. They arrived under a special emigration scheme designed to resettle destitute girls from the workhouses of Ireland during the Great Famine. The Great Irish Famine Commemoration Committee (GIFCC) have broadened their activities to commemorate all who left their homes seeking a new life in the colonies and States of Australia but these workhouse orphan girls, and the historical links back to Ireland, remain the focus of this project and only young women from the workhouses under Earl Grey’s Orphans scheme appear in the database.

This website introduces you to the monument itself, to this particular emigration scheme which operated between 1848 & 1850, to the women themselves and the ships on which they travelled. It is designed to be an motivating and rewarding experience for anyone interested in Irish history and genealogy or the broader issues related to famine, displacement and immigration no matter where in the Irish ‘diaspora’ you may reside. The website was initially set up by Dr Trevor McClaughlin and we are grateful for him allowing us to use the information contained in his two volumes of Barefoot & Pregnant? Irish Famine orphans in Australia, Genealogical Society of Victoria,  Melbourne, 1991 and 2001 and for the work he and Jennifer Bainbridge did on the first version of this website. This website is updated frequently and we acknowlege funding assistance from the Irish Government’s Emigrant Support Programme in 2011 and 2013



Seminar, Saturday 29 August 2015 at The Mint, Macquarie St., Sydney – commences 1.00pm with preliminary introduction at the Memorial, Hyde Park Barracks at 12.30


 Annual Gathering at Memorial, Sunday 30 August 2015. Formalities begin 12.30-5.00pm 

CLICK HERE to download a Form to purchase the CD of the ‘Orphan Girl’ song by Irish songwriter, Brendan Graham. It also contains moving introductions by Brendan about his reasons for writing ‘Orphan Girl, ‘The Whitest Flower’ and his famous ‘You Raise Me Up’. The best value bit of history and song ever!


CLICK ON THIS LINK to take a the historical walk with the Orphan girls from the ship in Sydney Harbour to the Immigration Barrack at Hyde Park

If you prefer or if links are not active go to:

Posted by: irishhungercomm | May 8, 2015

Paying tribute to New York’s famine Irish (PHOTOS)

Paying tribute to New York’s famine Irish (PHOTOS)




Irish Hunger Memorial artist Brian Tolle talks about the background to his design. Photo by: Frances Mulraney

As we approach land on the Staten Island ferry, coming into dock, historian Lynn Rogers asks us to imagine a line of ships, carrying hundreds of famine escapees, spread out before us.

Ships may have waited here for days as inspectors checked all passengers for signs of disease, as those who were ill grew worse and further numbers became infected.

Lynn Rogers sets the scene on approach to Staten Island. Image: Frances Mulraney.

Lynn Rogers sets the scene on approach to Staten Island. Image: Frances Mulraney.

Wading through the water to Staten Island’s shore, carrying all their worldly possessions, many Irish people ended their struggle to survive the famine by beginning a further struggle to survive New York.

As we reflected on the memory of those lost, all those gathered on the ferry on a recent Sunday afternoon received the opportunity to lay a rose in the water to commemorate those lost in the Great Hunger, those who died in Ireland and those who traveled to the US only to meet their fate on foreign shores.

“I’ve waited a long time to do that,” Lynn says.

The tossing of green, white and orange roses into the water saw an end to a day of exploration and discovery at New York’s Irish Hunger Memorial, designed by artist Brian Tolle. Following the walk and talk with artist Tolle, attendees accompanied Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries on the ferry to Staten Island to remember the Irish buried in two cemeteries there.

Roses in memory of the Famine Irish. Image:Frances Mulraney.

Roses in memory of the Famine Irish. Image:Frances Mulraney.

Between 1845 and 1852 as the Great Hunger raged throughout Ireland, many of those arriving in New York were Irish. At the time, Staten Island was home to the Marine Hospital Quarantine Station where immigrants were sent to recover if ship medical inspectors found them suffering from an infectious disease. Many of those who lost their lives in this hospital were Irish.

The Irish Hunger memorial is already a fantastically inspiring monument to the memory of the Irish famine. But meeting with its artist only gives this small corner of Manhattan more poignance and significance. Despite his lack of direct Irish connection, Tolle speaks with passion about the impact of the famine and the importance of its commemoration.

It’s even more touching to hear how the cottage used in the memorial is, in fact, a relic taken from the farmland of Tolle’s partner’s family.

When opened in 2002, the Irish Hunger Memorial was heralded by the New York Times as “unconventional work of public art that strikes a deep emotional chord, sums up its artistic moment for a broad audience and expands the understanding of what a public memorial can be.”

As it happens, the beautiful monument as it stands may never have happened if it wasn’t for jury duty. A one-man band of an artist, as Tolle described himself at the time, he turned out to be in the right place at the right time as he was encouraged to take part in the competition for the memorial design by a fellow juror.

Delivering his $25 slides by hand just on the closing date, he was swept into a boardroom, lacking suit and tie but carrying a no-less impressive idea.

“I was being asked to make history,” says Tolle. “Something that causes problems for somebody like me…It’s a complex and contentious history and I didn’t want to be that artist.”

When he made the shortlist, one of the last five, Tolle was given $10,000 to work with, a huge figure for a struggling artist, and he traveled to Ireland to truly experience the consequences of the famine on the country. Standing on a lonely hillside by a row of graves, he tells his enraptured audience how he felt “physically lost and lost in history.”

“I felt a profound sense of sadness and a profound sense of loss,” he continues.

Musicians play within the Hunger Memorial. Roses in memory of the Famine Irish. Image:Frances Mulraney.

Musicians play within the Hunger Memorial. Roses in memory of the Famine Irish. Image:Frances Mulraney.

Recreating this sense of loss and sadness in New York was now his challenge. Deciding that he didn’t want to engage in the age-old colonial tradition of just taking things, Tolle contacted the National Heritage Trust in Ireland to discover that none of the abandoned famine houses was protected. The next challenge came in finding one where the owner would be happy to give it up.

Looking through old photos of his partner, Brian Kline’s, family (“Irish in every direction” as he calls him), they happened across a photo of Kline’s grandmother standing outside an old cottage in Attymass, Co. Mayo.

A cottage that now stands re-erected in New York.

In a beautiful gesture of “the family that stayed, giving to the family that left,” Kline’s family allowed the transportation of the 1820s cottage to play the center role in the Hunger Memorial.

Bringing together the 1820s cottage with stones from around Ireland and 500-billion-year old rocks from Kilkenny, Totte has succeeded in his artistic goal: creating a place of commemoration and contemplation about world hunger.

Under the pinnacle of the memorial, changeable text is stratified behind glass into the rock. “I didn’t want it to stop,” he says. “I wanted it to be truly flexible … the stratified arrangement show the layers of history.”

The perseverance of the Irish people is shown not just by the memorial itself but in the actions of Irish Americans in protecting the site. When the World Trade Center fell in 2001, the memorial was still under construction and its close proximity to the site left it covered in debris.

An enthusiastic crowd meet artist Brian Tolle. Roses in memory of the Famine Irish. Image:Frances Mulraney.

An enthusiastic crowd meet artist Brian Tolle. Roses in memory of the Famine Irish. Image:Frances Mulraney.

“People saved it because people were invested in it,” he says, telling of the regular visits from Irish NYPD, firefighters and emergency staff to help protect the memorial site. Presence of mind during the height of the disaster saved the precious stones that had been transported from Ireland and waiting to be laid on the site behind emergency tape when the area was covered with cement and dust.

The build saw further obstacles in construction with three crews walking off site, unhappy with the height of the pinnacle atop of the memorial. The pinnacle sees visitors stand under a weight of rock before entering the cottage. Despite crews’ protests that the pinnacle should be made smaller for engineering purposes, Totte insisted that the “weight of history” lay beneath every foot of that pinnacle and would not change its length.

The presence of foot and mouth disease in Ireland at the time of construction also caused problems for the transportation of products to the US. In the end, all the plants and grass planted on the memorial are those from New York state alone. Fifty-two different types of plants and 90,000 blocks of native grass in total.

Tolle evidently had a clear vision for his memorial, a vision that nobody could interfere with. Well, almost nobody. The President of Ireland always gets their way in the end.

When presented with the idea of a gift from former Irish President Mary McAleese, Tolle took a lot of convincing to agree. Thirty-two stones from each county of Ireland were eventually allowed to be awarded to the memorial on the condition that none of the stones were inscribed and and Tolle could place them where he desired.

It seems that nobody tells President McAleese what to do, however, and 32 stones arrived each inscribed with the county name of their origin. Placing the stones with the names hidden in various spots around the memorial, Tolle still managed to hide the inscriptions.

At the opening of the memorial, thousands of Irish congregated. Their first mission? Find their county stone.

“I learned a big lesson that day,” Tolle laughs. “Irish people love their stones.” Following this, each of the stones (once they were found amongst the others) was turned the right way up again and mapped. “All is at peace,” he jokes.

Tolle had better luck with the next gift presented. A board executive wished to place a Celtic cross at the edge of the site with an Irish and American flag on either side. “Thanks but no thanks,” Tolle says. “I know religion played a part [in famine politics], but this is about humanity not religious politics.” In its stead came a standing stone, not associated with Christianity.

Historian Lynn Rogers from Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries. Roses in memory of the Famine Irish. Image:Frances Mulraney.

Historian Lynn Rogers from Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries. Roses in memory of the Famine Irish. Image:Frances Mulraney.

As the talk continued up through the memorial’s cottage and through the field to the top of the pinnacle, the subject changed to the land itself and the changing landscape around the memorial.

“It’s an extraordinary commitment with no concern for the monetary value of the land [for a memorial to be kept in this part of Manhattan],” Tolle says.

Its placement in this part of the city has great significance also. “Politics and politics of land and who owned it was what made it [the famine],” says Tolle.

“I made this place about the land. On a day like this you can feel the pressure on this small patch of earth – this quarter acre of land. You begin to feel how fragile the land is.”

Speaking of the famine monument in Dublin also, Tolle says, “They are in the heart of the financial district in both places, can you put a value on a piece of property like this.”

Pointing to the surrounding buildings, he says “to have it in the shadow of this [the financial district] was very important to me.”

Posted by: irishhungercomm | May 7, 2015

Visit to Carrickmacross Workhouse

Visit to Carrickmacross Workhouse on Saturday, 9th May

* Her Excellency, Dr. Ruth Adler, Australian Ambassador to Ireland

* Dr. Perry McIntyre, Chair of Sydney’s Great Irish Famine Commemoration Committee

* Dr. Richard Reid, Sydney’s Great Irish Famine Commemoration Committee

* Michael and Olivia Blanch, Founders of the Committee for the Commemoration of Irish Famine Victims

* Pete St. John, singer-songwriter of ‘The Fields of Athenry’ and member of the Committee for the Commemoration of Irish Famine Victims

* Evelyn Conlon, Co. Monaghan author of ‘Not the Same Sky’, a novel based on girls sent to Australia in 1849

* Shirley Clerkin, Heritage Officer with Monaghan County Council

* Michael and Eileen Munnelly, from ‘Irish Lives Remembered’ Genealogy Magazine

Dear Dr. Adler and friends

Thank you all again for your interest in visiting us this Saturday afternoon, 9th May, and we have now finalised our itinerary – kindly note that we aim to have refreshments in a local hotel at 4.30pm, as Ambassador Adler is scheduled to depart at 5pm.

3pm: Arrival time and introductions around the table.

3.15pm-3.30pm: Presentations by Dr. Perry McIntyre and Dr. Richard Reid from Sydney’s Great Irish Famine Commemoration Committee.

3.30pm-3.45pm: Reading by Evelyn Conlon, author of ‘Not the Same Sky’.

3.45pm-4pm: Update on fundraising progress to purchase and save 6-acre Workhouse site and Mass Famine Graves – including a recent visit by singer-songwriter, Sting, whose 3rd great grandmother died in the Workhouse in 1881.

4pm-4.15pm: Presentation by the Committee for Commemoration of Irish Famine Victims (CCIFV) of bonnets created in memory of the 19 girls from our Workhouse that sailed to Australia on the John Knox in 1849.

4.30pm: Refreshments in local hotel, then departure.

If ye have any queries regarding the afternoon, please just let us know.

We look forward to seeing old friends and meeting some new ones!

Le meas

Yvonne & co.


Carrickmacross Workhouse

Shercock Road


Co. Monaghan


T: 042 966 4540




Built in 1841, Carrickmacross Workhouse has been restored by Farney Community Development Group Ltd. into a Community Resource, Training and Heritage Centre.

Honorary Patron of Carrickmacross Workhouse: Australian Ambassador to Ireland, Her Excellency, Dr. Ruth Adler.

Farney Community Development Group Ltd. is a Company Limited by Guarantee with Charitable Status.

Registered as a Company in Dublin, Ireland.

Registered Office: Carrickmacross Workhouse, Shercock Road, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, Ireland.

Company Registration Number: 230017

Charitable Status (CHY) Number: 13031

Posted by: irishhungercomm | May 7, 2015

Irish Railroad Workers Museum Event – Famine Remembrance

Irish Railroad Workers Museum Event

Irish Railroad Workers Museum

918-920 Lemmon Street, Baltimore, MD  21223

May 9, 2015

Famine Remembrance

We invite you to reflect with us as part of the worldwide Famine Remembrance. We will honor our ancestors who suffered and died during An Gorta Mor, and remember those who escaped to America to begin again. Our event is open to all, including friends who will be cleaning local cemeteries on May 9th. Come as you are….bring your memories, and speak the names of those who paved the way for us. We will gather this Saturday, just after 3:00, and begin a simple remembrance at 3:30 at our garden’s Memorial Wall.

Irish Railroad Workers Museum

Posted by: irishhungercomm | April 30, 2015

International Commemorative of The Great Irish Hunger – NYC

Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries
May 3, 2015

Take a tour with the designer of the Irish Hunger Memorial, Brian Tolle, this May 3 in New York’s Battery City Park. This free event will run between 2 and 3pm on May 3, meeting at the memorial itself, located at Vesey Street and North End Avenue in Battery Park City. In the event of rain, attendees are asked to meet at 6 River Terrace.

More information on the event can be found at:

Please join us after today’s Battery Park tour at Whitehall Street Ferry Terminal.
We will board the Staten Island Ferry and see where the Irish immigrant ships entered into New York Harbor, where the infamous Quarantine Hospital was located and place flowers in memory of the thousands who did not survive and remember those that did.Please join us after today’s Battery Park tour at Whitehall Street Ferry Terminal. We will board the Staten Island Ferry and see where the Irish immigrant ships entered into New York Harbor, where the infamous Quarantine Hospital was located and place flowers in memory of the thousands who did not survive and remember those that did.

The Committee To Honor The Victims Of The Irish Hunger (1845 – 51) Inc is supplying grave stones to be placed at all An Gorta Mor burial sites. Three will be placed on Staten Island.

Posted by: irishhungercomm | April 30, 2015

Commemoration of the Great Hunger – Lawrence Irish Famine Memorial

Below please find an invitation to Division 8’s commemoration of the
Great Hunger on Sunday, May 3, 2015 at 2 pm. All are welcome to attend.
We hope that you will join with us.

Bill Sullivan
Division 8 AOH
Lawrence, Massachusetts

The Officers and Members of the Rev. James T. O’Reilly OSA Division 8 Ancient Order of Hibernians


Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians Cordially Invite you to Attend

The Commemoration of the Great Hunger

At the

An Gorta Mor’

Lawrence Irish Famine Memorial

Immaculate Conception Cemetery

29 Barker Street

Lawrence, Massachusett

Sunday, May 3, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Light Refreshments to follow

In the event of inclement weather, the service will beheld in the Mausoleum on the grounds of the cemetery

Posted by: irishhungercomm | April 30, 2015

Armenian Genocide Fosters ‘Seal of Unshakeable Faith’

As many of you know, Bill Fahey has been campaigning for many years for the Irish Hunger Martyrs (Victims of Ireland’s Great Hunger) to be Beatified. In this way the Victims would be termed Blessed as a step on the way to potentially being Canonized as Saints. Bill has collected thousands of signatures in a petition which was presented to the Vatican and this cause has been under consideration for some time. In seeing a comparison with the recent Canonization of the Armenian Victims, Bill Fahey decided to write a letter to the Editor of the National Catholic Register. This is printed below. Bill Fahey has recently passed the documentation, related to the submission to the Vatican, To Cardinal Dolan of New York and asked that he follow up on his next visit to Rome. You can read more details at:
From: National Catholic Register a Service of EWTN
Armenian Genocide Fosters ‘Seal of Unshakeable Faith’ (2912)

NEWS ANALYSIS: The shared experience of cultural devastation is a fierce source of Armenian identity.

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Clergy of Armenian Apostolic Church participate in a canonization ceremony for victims of the Armenian genocide at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, a complex that serves as the administrative headquarters of the Armenian Apostolic Church, on April 23 in Vagharshapat, Armenia.

– Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Christian history has never witnessed as many martyrs celebrated together as it did yesterday, when the Armenian Apostolic Church canonized 1.5 million souls massacred during the Armenian genocide, launched by the Ottoman Turks 100 years ago today.

The ceremony was held outside of the world’s oldest cathedral, Holy Etchmiadzin, within sight of Mount Ararat, where Noah’s ark is believed to have come to rest.

Within sight does not mean within easy reach, though: Mount Ararat is located in Turkey, and the Armenian-Turkish border is closed. The two countries have no diplomatic relationship.

Unfortunately, as a result of centenary events around the world marking the “Great Crime” (as Armenians call it), tensions with Turkey are at an all-time high.

Despite having little in common with the late Ottoman regime, contemporary Turkish governments have adamantly resisted the historical consensus that genocide was committed on its territory.

On the other side, the shared experience of cultural devastation is a fierce source of Armenian identity.

“The blood of the Armenian martyred for Christ has placed the seal of unshakeable faith and patriotism on the sands of the desert,” declared Catholicos (universal leader) Karekin II, supreme patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

The religious leader hardly concealed his frustration with the Turkish government, observing, “The history of martyrdom is not merely a litany of facts or events; rather, it is the truth of faith that appears before us, against which tortures and crimes, as well as political deceits and machinations, are powerless.”


The canonization was the first time in 400 years that the Armenian Church — an Orthodox faith representing more than 90% of the nation’s population — inducted new saints. Representatives of the Armenian Catholic Church participated, too.

True to its historical Church roots, the canonization was a feast of color, sound and saintly references: Fourteen holy relics were incorporated into the ceremony, including relics of the True Cross, the Holy Lance and the right hand of St. Gregory the Illuminator, Armenia’s patron saint.

The Catholicos reflected on how shared faith helped the far-flung Armenian diaspora maintain strong Christian, national identity.

It is through “devotion to Christ and love of patrimony that our people have re-created their spiritual and national life in all corners of the world, found rebirth in Eastern Armenia, under the canopy of their state, which has risen from the ashes,” he said.

Some 3 million people live in Armenia, while about 10 million Armenians live around the world, largely as a result of genocide-provoked displacement. Approximately 70,000 Armenians still live in Turkey.

Following the ceremony, church bells tolled across the country — as well as in Berlin, Madrid, New York, Moscow, Paris and Venice.

Today, the Eiffel Tower will remain dark to mark the Armenian Genocide, a term France endorsed in 2011, as does Canada, Italy, Russia, Germany, Austria, France and the Vatican.

Many other countries — including the United States, England and Israel as well as the United Nations — avoid the “G word,” in order to avoid angering Turkey.

When Pope Francis referred to “the 20th century’s first genocide,” at an April 12 Mass for the Armenian faithful, he set off a discussion that continues to reverberate worldwide.

A Bleeding Wound

The Holy Father explained the problem of failing to confront the past with an evocative image.

He said, “Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.” This eloquent yet simple image carries with it a moral directive: It compels sympathy (an injury still bleeding) and action (bandage it).

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, a leader of the Armenian Church of America who participated in the canonization, as well as the April 12 Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, told the Register by email, “The impact of Pope Francis’ remarks has been profound, with powerful repercussions.”

“His recognition of the Armenian genocide was a deeply moral act on its own, but it seemed to inspire similar acts of moral courage across the world, opening the door to nations and individuals to speak out in recognition of the genocide,” the archbishop continued.

“It’s as if these others were waiting to break their silence, and the Pope’s forthright declaration gave them permission or inspiration to do so,” wrote Archbishop Barsamian.

Facing Truth

On April 15, the European Parliament called on Turkey to recognize the Armenian genocide, open its border with Armenia and renew bilateral diplomatic relations.

Earlier this week, the Austrian Parliament described the Armenian persecution as genocide in a statement signed by the country’s six parliamentary parties and called on Turkey to similarly acknowledge the fact.

Austria’s action is significant because the Austro-Hungarian Empire was allied with the Ottoman Empire in 1915, when the killing began.

German President Joachim Gauck, a former Lutheran pastor, spoke yesterday at a Berlin interfaith service describing the Armenian experience as “exemplary in the history of mass exterminations, ethnic cleansing, deportations and, yes, genocide, which marked the 20th century in such a terrible way.”

Interestingly, Gauck also acknowledged a direct role played by Germans soldiers who “were also involved in the planning and, partly, in the execution of the deportations.”

In one particularly encouraging development, an Istanbul youth branch of the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party organized a street demonstration last night to commemorate the start of the mass killings in 1915.

Demonstrators carried placards reading, “Confront the Genocide.”

They also visited the addresses of Armenian elite who were rounded up on April 24, 1915, and killed. Participants left red carnations on the victims’ doors as well as enlarged images of their faces.

A coalition of 20 Assyrian non-governmental organizations active in Turkey also called for Turkish recognition of the Armenian genocide as well as the mass killing of some 500,000 Assyrians.

U.S. Position

Most anticipated has been whether President Barack Obama would recognize the Armenian genocide today. Armenian-Americans have expected this affirmation ever since the president endorsed genocide recognition while campaigning.

To date, President Ronald Reagan was the only president to refer to the Armenian experience as a genocide in public statements.

But the White House made clear earlier this week that Obama will not change the status quo — deferring to Turkish sensitivities, which has reportedly greatly upset Armenian-Americans, who are described as having their “hopes crushed.”

Van Krikorian, co-chairman of the Armenian Assembly of America, explained at a congressional hearing yesterday that he thinks the president “has been misled by false promises. Worst of all, it puts more lives at risk, as history does repeat itself.”

Krikorian continued, “The record [regarding the genocide] has never been in doubt. To say that people are shocked is an overstatement. The news that the Turkish foreign minister met with Secretary [John] Kerry and National Security adviser [Susan] Rice, with ISIL on the table, made everything clear. However, to say that we are deeply disappointed is an understatement.”

“The truth is: We feel pain and sorrow. … We feel pain for the innocent people and civilization that was destroyed. We feel sorrow in the knowledge that it will continue unless change comes,” said the Armenian activist.

The official U.S. delegation, led by Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew, traveling to Armenian for today’s genocide commemoration includes Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., whose mother was Armenian.

Speier posted on her Facebook page, “We should be unequivocal about recognizing the ‪#‎genocide, and I am making every effort to speak out about it at every stage of this trip.”

She also reported, “There’s a sense of euphoria here. Members of the ‪#‎Armenian diaspora from around the world have come home to remember the genocide. … There’s a sense of pride to be here. As painful as this remembrance is, there’s a sense of community that’s very palpable.”

The most prominent heads of state attending today’s events are President Vladimir Putin from Russia and President Francois Hollande of France.

Helsinki Commission

One U.S. government entity with no doubt the Armenian people experienced a genocide in the early 20th century is the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, known as the Helsinki Commission, chaired by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.

The commission held a hearing yesterday entitled “A Century of Denial: The Armenian Genocide and the Ongoing Quest for Justice.”

Smith explained the background for the event’s subject: “The Armenian genocide is the only one of the genocides of the 20th century in which the nation that was decimated … has been subject to the ongoing outrage of a massive campaign of genocide denial, openly sustained by state authority.”

The congressman outlined the dimensions of what he called “one of the most terrible crimes of the 20th century.”

He said, “In 1915, there were about 2 million Armenians living in what was then the Ottoman Empire. They were living in a region they inhabited for 2,500 years. By 1923, well over 90% of these Armenians had disappeared.”

“Most of them, as many as 1.5 million, were dead — most of them death-marched into the desert or were shot and subject in some cases to rape or other unbelievable cruelties. The remainder had been forced into exile,” he said.

One committee witness, professor Elizabeth Prodromou, who is currently teaching at Tufts University, described genocide denial as “the final stage of genocide” and suggested that, by denying the crime, the Turkish government helps perpetuate it.

A U.S. diplomat who served in Turkey told the Register, “Turkish identity is fragile and constructed from disparate elements. [President Recep] Erdoğan wants Turkey’s Ottoman legacy resurrected, but he can’t abide any smirches on Ottoman or Turkish character.”

“Ironically, he has been improving the situation for religious minorities, in most cases, over the poisonous xenophobia of the secular nationalist he supplanted” when Erdoğan came to power in 2002.

Moral Dimension

Kenneth Hachikian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, said there are many costs associated with genocide denial, but “first and foremost, the moral cost.”

“No one has spoken more powerfully to this aspect than Pope Francis. The pontiff, consistent with the Vatican’s long-standing principled tradition of Armenian genocide recognition, spoke honestly about this atrocity, telling the world that ‘concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.’”

He continued, “These powerful words by Pope Francis reflect the values of every faith’s tradition, every nation’s code of morality, every civilized culture’s concept of justice.”

Said Hachikian, “The cause of genocide prevention, a core moral imperative of our age, requires, as the Pope so powerfully stated, that we not engage in ‘concealing or denying evil.’”

Victor Gaetan writes from Washington.

He is a contributor to Foreign Affairs magazine.

Bill Fahey’s Letter to the Editor:
From: []
Sent: Saturday, April 25, 2015 11:55 AM
To: Editor
Subject: Armenian Martyrs

Over one million Irish Catholics died of starvation and related diseases during the Irish Hunger 1845-51. Vast amounts of food were shipped out of Ireland to England at the same time these people were starving. This was GENOCIDE according to the United Nations Resolution.

When will these victims of GENOCIDE receive the recognition they deserve for

their suffering and deaths for the Faith.

They were offered food if they gave up their Catholic Faith. They refused

the bribe and suffered the consequences.

Bill Fahey

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