Ever since Dublin became my home town, the Irish Famine sculptures by artist Rowan Gillespie on Custom House Quay haunt me. The statues are ‘walking’ on towards emigration ships like the Jeannie Johnston. and they describe so well the hunger Irish people went through during the Great Famine, called Gorta Mór in Irish (Great Hunger), between 1845 and 1852, caused by blight. There were however two other famine periods in Ireland: the Irish Famine from 1740 to 1741 called Bliain an Áir, meaning the Year of Slaughter. Another one was in 1879, called An Gorta Beag, meaning the ‘mini-famine’.

The Act of Union caused Ireland to be governed directly by the United Kingdom, which meant that Ireland had been prohibited living the life they were so used to, leading to “a starving population, an absentee aristocracy, and an alien Church, and in addition the weakest executive in the world” according to Benjamin Disraeli. One million Irish people died of hunger, another million emigrated to Canada, England, Scotland, U.S.A. and Australia.

UNCRPD may 17 2013 043

WordPress Daily Prompt: The Artist’s Eye
Is there a paintings or sculptures we’re drawn to. What it says to us, describe us the experience. Photographers, artists, poets: show us ART.

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20 thoughts on “Famine

    1. Ah yeah, perhaps we will never know the real truth as opposed to the polished truth… We in Ireland like to think we are quite different from English people but we have as much English blood in us as the English have Irish blood in them.


      1. That is so true, but I like to believe that we all descended from one source, what ever source that is. Cut us we all bleed, upset us we all cry, tickle us we all laugh, hold us we all love. So why do we all want to kill each other – Sometimes I look at the world and sigh. We are all of the same blood,


  1. Thanks for the pics Billie. I used to walk past there regularly but never stopped to really look. Dreadful times, and it’s hard not to point the finger at the London Parliament which had the solution in its power.


  2. My mother and family are from County Mayo. They don’t talk about the famine. I took my Aunt to Kensington Palace and she asked me why I was so cheery to be in there when they let the Irish People starve. I looked at her and said I was sorry. The history taught to me is American and I did not realize the devastation Queen Victoria did. I need to brush up on my Gaelic history, especially considering how Irish I look.


    1. They are. It still happens that, when I open up the picture of the woman staring right back in your face, I am taken aback by her strong features. I wished Ireland had more of the same. What makes it even sadder is that they are standing right in front of the Irish financial quarter. Seeing Ireland plummet into recession 5 years ago, they are a stark reminder of our past, and that it can never happen again. Sadly it did though with many young people emigrating again like they did 165 years ago.


      1. Riches and poverty have stood side by side. One needs to be propped up by the other. I’ll leave it to you guess which props up which!

        My great-great grandparents (paternal side) came from Ireland (Patrick and Mary Conroy) somewhere between 1852-1856. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Mary died in the Poor House at Penkhull in Stoke-On-Trent in 1902.


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