Newry announced as host of 2015 Famine Commemoration

April 13, 2015

Newry has been chosen to host this year’s Famine Commemoration, the first time the event has ever been held north of the border.

Since its inception by the Irish government eight years ago, the event has been rotated between the four provinces.

On Friday, Heather Humphreys, Republic’s Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, announced the 2015 commemoration would take place in Northern Ireland for the first time, with Newry being chosen as the host.

“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,” the Minister said.

The Famine Commemoration committee said Newry had made a strong application with enthusiasm shown from the local community.

“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,” Ms Humphreys added.

The Assembly’s Culture Minister Caral Ní Chuilín welcomed the announcement and said Newry’s bid to host the event had enjoyed cross-party support.

“This landmark initiative in Newry will help communities across this island to better understand the impact and legacy of the famine on all sections and traditions in our society,” she said.

“The famine was a time of unspeakable horror and hardship throughout Ireland. It was not held at bay by creed or boundaries drawn on any map. It is important that we take time to remember the plight of our ancestors who died from starvation and disease or who were forced into exile, never to return to their native shores. Nor can we forget those who died on the famine ships as they tried to escape their plight in Ireland or the grief and pain of those who were left behind.

“No part of the island was spared the terrible atrocity of ‘an gorta mor’ (the great hunger) and it is fitting that the annual famine commemoration should be held in the north for the first time.”

The event will be held on Saturday 26th September.