2013-02-01 17:49:02 - The 2013 National Famine Commemoration will take place in Kilrush on 12th May with President Michael D. Higgins leading the official representation, it has been announced.
The West Clare town was last month named by the National Famine Commemoration Committee as the host town for the event, which is the centrepiece of an annual observance in Ireland commemorating the Great Famine.
To coincide with the naming of a date for the event, Clare County Council and Kilrush Town Council has announced it will host a 10-day programme of events from May 3-12, which will be a key feature of Clare's calendar of events for the Gathering Ireland 2013. A public meeting aimed at generating event proposals will be held at Kilrush Golf Club this Tuesday at 5pm.
Speaking at the launch of the 2013 National and International Famine Commemoration Programme at Custom House Quay in Dublin, Mayor of
Kilrush Cllr. Mairead O’Brien said: “Kilrush has historically been very closely linked with and was greatly affected by the Great Irish Famine in the mid 19th century. It is fantastic to see this link being recognised nationally with Kilrush being selected as the host town for the 2013 National Famine Commemoration. I invite the people of County Clare to submit their event proposals at Tuesday’s meeting with a view to formulating a comprehensive and successful programme of events, one which will engage all members of the community.”
The National Famine Commemoration has been organised officially by the Government since 2009. The main commemoration event is held in a different place each year, rotating among the four provinces of Ireland. Events at the main venue usually include lectures, arts events, and visits to places connected to the Famine. Local events also take place countrywide while a minute’s silence is encouraged for schools and workplaces.
According to John Corry, Kilrush Town Clerk: “The people of Kilrush and the wider West Clare area are delighted to be hosting the main commemoration event. A dedicated and experienced Steering Group has been formed to manage the Commemoration along with a number of sub-working groups dealing with different aspects to the commemorations and remembrances. Clare Local Authorities feel it is vital that each and every community group and parish in the West Clare area (Kilrush Poor Law Union) is invited to have an input into the creation of a programme of events during May, hence the hosting of a public meeting on Tuesday.”
Kilrush is recognised nationally as one of the locations worst affected by starvation, disease and emigration between 1845 and 1852. The famine years brought much hardship to Kilrush. Evictions, fever and cholera reduced the population of south-west Clare to such an extent that it has never again attained its pre-famine numbers. The Kilrush workhouse witnessed terrible deprivation and deaths. During and after the famine, the Vandeleur name became synonymous with the worst of landlord evictions, with over 20,000 evicted in the Kilrush area.
Illustrations from Kilrush at the time of the famine featured in the Illustrated London News and these illustrations are the best recognised images of the famine conditions in Ireland. Images of the famine from Moveen were depicted and the ruins of this famine village are visible today. Other strong attributes from the area include the association with Captain Kennedy, Vandeleur Estate, the famine plot and memorial garden at Old Shanakyle cemetery, the Paupers' Quay, among many other sites and stories.