National Famine Commemoration set for Sunday

Professor Christine Kinealy


By Irish Echo Staff


Not surprisingly, the plans for Ireland’s annual National Famine Commemoration have been revised.

Josepha Madigan, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee, outlined the revised arrangements for this year’s commemoration which will take place this Sunday, May 17.

Also planned for Sunday is an online discussion to be led by Professor Christine Kinealy of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

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“We are honored to be working with the government of Ireland on the National Famine Commemoration 2020 event,” said Professor Kinealy.

“Immediately after the National Famine Commemoration broadcast, all are welcome to join an ‘Honoring Famine Heroes’ online discussion on Zoom,” she said.

Professor Kinealy will be joined by Dr. Jason King of the National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park in County Roscommon. This discussion will be shortly before 1 p.m. in Ireland, 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time in the U.s. and accessible on

“We would like to invite viewers of the Famine Commemoration to join us right afterwards for our online discussion on ‘Honoring Famine Heroes,’” Kinealy added.

“This year’s Famine Commemoration ceremony will be pared back and especially poignant,” said Jason King.

“We hope viewers will join us and tell us about their own Famine Heroes.”

In Ireland, the main ceremony on the day will take place at the Edward Delaney Famine Sculpture in St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin at 12.30 p.m. local time.

The ceremony will include military honors and a wreath laying ceremony in remembrance of all those who suffered or perished during the Famine. Wreaths will be laid by Minister Madigan on behalf of the Irish people and by the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps on behalf of the diplomatic community.

According to an Irish government statement, as with the recent Easter and Arbour Hill commemorations the ceremony will be conducted in line with current health and safety guidelines and will not be open to the public.

“As in previous years, live coverage of the Famine Commemoration will be available to view live nationally and internationally on RTÉ News Now, on and on the RTÉ Player.”

The National Famine Commemoration, which had been scheduled to take place in Buncrana, County Donegal this month will now be held in 2021

“However, due to the circumstances in which we find ourselves these plans, like so many others, have had to be put on hold for now. I look forward to Buncrana’s hosting the commemoration next year,” said Minister Madigan.

“As we confront a pandemic today, let us recall that the Great Famine was a public health emergency in its own right. We think of the many heroes of the Famine years.

“People such as the doctors and nurses of the fever hospitals who put themselves at risk to care for others will always have our thanks for their sacrifice. As our society has changed and evolved this commitment to helping others has never wavered and we see the same qualities of courage and commitment to others in our healthcare staff today,” the minister said.