Famine commemorations take place at UCC

Famine commemorations take place at UCC
President Michael D. Higgins during a wreath laying ceremony along with members of the 3rd Inf. Battalion at the National Famine Commemoration at UCC. Picture: Denis Minihane.

THE Great Hunger, though not the sole foundation event in the formation of the Irish diaspora, must yet still be considered the single most important event in the formation of a distinct Irish American identity, President Michael D Higgins told the annual Famine Commemoration at UCC on Saturday.

President Higgins said it should never be forgotten that between 1846 and 1855, 2.1 million people left this island.

“1.5 million of those went to the United States,” he said. “An editorial in The Times of London would later state that it is there the Irish Famine of the 1840s would become a central part of collective memory, with all the difficulties this ensues, and a significant component of American politics.”

President Michael D. Higgins, Sabina Higgins and Prof. Patrick O'Shea, President, UCC, speaking as they visited An Bothán, a mud cabin, re-created by UCC staff, at the National Famine Commemoration at UCC. Picture: Denis Minihane.
President Michael D. Higgins, Sabina Higgins and Prof. Patrick O'Shea, President, UCC, speaking as they visited An Bothán, a mud cabin, re-created by UCC staff, at the National Famine Commemoration at UCC. Picture: Denis Minihane.

At the event, President Higgins also called for a renewed commitment to support all those who are vulnerable and suffer like Irish people did during the Great Famine. He spoke of Ireland’s solidarity with migrants and refugees, borne out of our own historical experience.

Mr Higgins said given the “catastrophic dimension” of Ireland’s history, “we must deliver not only charity but justice”.

He added that maintaining the commitments of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Accord cannot be “met with such an indifference as would mean simply abandoning and jettisoning millions of our fellow human beings.” He also paid tribute to crew members of the LE William Butler Yeats, who were present at the ceremony.

To mark the commemoration, UCC staff recreated An Bothán, a mud cabin, a replica of a fourth class dwelling, reflecting the horrendous condition in which our forebears lived, suffered and died.

Also attending the event were Lord Mayor of Cork City, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, Mayor of Cork County, Cllr Declan Hurley, and Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

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