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Irish Holocaust Memorials Around the World: America

Updated on September 14, 2012
Irish mother with two children.
Irish mother with two children. | Source

Wrong by any name.

The Irish Holocaust* is known by many names including The Irish Genocide, The Great Hunger, The Great Famine and The Potato Famine. It all depends on who you ask and which truth you believe.

To the Irish it is called "An Gorta Mor" meaning "The Great Hunger"

From 1846 to 1852 the Potato Blight or "Phytophthora infestans" in Ireland was blamed for millions of Irish deaths and was the cause of over a million more Irish leaving Ireland.

The Potato Blight was first recorded in the United States, in Philadelphia and New York City in early 1843. Winds then spread the spores, and in 1845 it was found from Illinois to Nova Scotia, and from Virginia to Ontario. It crossed the Atlantic Ocean with a shipment of seed potatoes for Belgian farmers in 1845.

You may wonder how could so many people die from the lack of a potato? They didn't, they died from lack of food. Although their diet was mainly potato other types of food were grown throughout Ireland and readily available from 1846 to 1852. Unfortunately none of it was given to the starving Irish, instead it was taken from farmers, at gunpoint, by the British Military. Ships carrying butter, vegetables, grains, livestock, whiskey and other provisions were regularly exported to England during the "Great Famine" as England likes to call it.

* Referred to as "Holocaust" in the Cork Examiner in 1847

The 150th Anniversary of "An Gorta Mor"

1997 marked the 150th Anniversary of "The Great Hunger". This prompted Irish communities throughout the world to commission memorials to be built in honor of those that died, those that fled and their descendents.

The Great Hunger caused mass emigration from Ireland. It is said over 1 million Irish fled their beloved homeland on ships bound for foreign shores. Today you can find Irish Holocaust Memorials in America, Australia, Canada, England & Wales and plans are underway for one in Glasgow, Scotland as well.

This hub features Irish Memorials in America.

Boston Famine Memorial
Boston Famine Memorial

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Irish Famine, Boston's Irish community unveiled a $1 million memorial park on June 28,1998. The park is located in downtown Boston along the city's Freedom Trail and is visited annually by over three million people.

More than a quarter of a million (260,000) Irish had settled in Massachusetts, chiefly in Boston during the famine.

Plaque Inscription

Lest We Forget
The commemoration of THE GREAT HUNGER allows people everywhere to reflect upon a terrible episode that forever changed Ireland. The conditions that produced the Irish famine - crop failure, absentee landlordism, colonialism and weak political leadership - still exist around the world today. Famines continue to decimate suffering populations. The lessons of the Irish famine need to be constantly learned and applied until history finally ceases to repeat itself.

Cited: Boston Irish Famine Memorial


Buffalo, New York, USA

The Western New York Irish Famine Commemoration Monument, located on the waterfront in Buffalo, New York, was dedicated to the victims of Ireland's Great Famine on August 23, 1997. The stark stone monument is at the foot of La Rivière Street on a slight rise at the edge of Erie Basin. The site is ringed by trees and is separated from Erie Basin by a walkway.

Cited: Irish Famine Memorial Buffalo

The Great Hunger Memorial
The Great Hunger Memorial | Source

Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

An Gorta Mor ~ The Great Hunger Memorial is located in Cambridge Common and was dedicated by the President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, on July 23, 1997

Memorial to the Irish Potato Famine
Memorial to the Irish Potato Famine | Source

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Gaelic Park commissioned, paid for and dedicated a memorial monument, on Sunday, October 24, 1999, to the millions of Irish who either died of starvation, or who were forced to emigrate during the Irish Potato Famine.

The monument depicts a destitute Irish family being evicted from their home while it was being burned to the ground, it also shows a "coffin ship" that was used to transport those fortunate enough to emigrate. The headstones in the background, denote the massive number of those who perished of hunger, or hunger related diseases.

Cited: Chicago Gaelic Park Famine Memorial

Irish Famine Memorial
Irish Famine Memorial | Source

Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Cleveland's Irish Famine Memorial is located along the banks of the Cuyahoga River near downtown Cleveland.

Transcription of the monument.

Cleveland Remembers
The Great Hunger
An Gorta Mor
Ireland's Potato Famine 1845-1850

This memorial commemorates the passing of 150 years since the misery known as "The Great Hunger", a carnage visited upon the Irish nation diminishing her population by millions. As a result of imposed political and economic structures, many of the Irish were driven to the potato alone for survival. Consequently Ireland's people starved to death. or were forced to emigrate, many dying on "coffin ships" en route. This is one of the most tragic and significant events in Irish history.

Lest We Forget
To those who died.
To those who came and enriched our Cleveland shores.
We dedicate this monument to you.

Erected on the 150th anniversary of the 'Great Hunger' by the Greater Cleveland Irish community in the year of our Lord, 2000.

Etched into the base of the cross are the words "Irish Famine Memorial - Dedicated September 16, 2000".

Cited: Irish American Historical Places on Waymarking

The Hibernian "An Gorta Mor" Memorial in Michigan
The Hibernian "An Gorta Mor" Memorial in Michigan | Source

Irish Hills, Michigan, USA

The An Gorta Mor (The Great Hunger) memorial is built on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Shrine, circa 1854. The memorial was sponsored by the Ancient Order of Hibernians and dedicated September 19, 2004.

The columns are made from limestone from the Penrose Quay in Cork Harbor, Ireland. The base of the structure is made up of cobbles from Co. Donegal.

Cited: Irish American Historical Places on Waymarking.

New York City Irish Hunger Memorial.
New York City Irish Hunger Memorial.

New York City, New York, USA

Between 1847 and 1852 nearly half a million Irish immigrated to New York where they arrived at South Street Seaport and Castle Clinton (AKA Castle Garden) at Battery Park. Today, almost 800,000 New York City residents trace their ancestry to Ireland.

The Irish Hunger Memorial is devoted to raising public awareness of the events that led to the "Great Irish Famine and Migration" of 1845-1852. The memorial stands on a half-acre site in Battery Park City and contains stones from each of Ireland's 32 counties. Along the base are layers of imported Kilkenny limestone. The limestone is more than 300 million years old and contains fossils from the ancient Irish seabed.

The memorial appears as a sloping landscape with a pathway inviting visitors to walk past a ruined field stone cottage and stone walls toward a pilgrim's standing stone. The western end of the Memorial offers views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, a fitting tribute to all immigrant people.

Cited: Irish Hunger Memorial

Irish Famine Memorial
Irish Famine Memorial | Source

Olean, New York, USA

The memorial features a raised stone from the Penrose Quay in Cobh Harbor, County Cork, Ireland that was donated by the Western New York Irish Famine Commemoration Committee to the people of the Olean area and in particular, to the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Cited: Orleans Ancient Order of Hibernians

Rhode Island Irish Hunger Memorial
Rhode Island Irish Hunger Memorial | Source

Providence, Rhode Island, USA

The Irish Memorial is located along the newly restored waterfront at River Walk in Providence. A large statue of three Irish figures sits on a round stone base, bordered by a walkway of donor-bricks and flagstones. The walkway (pictured at right) leads to a commemorative wall that narrates the history of the famine amid the Irish immigration. The sidewalk beneath the wall incorporates an outline map depicting the coasts of America and Ireland, emphasizing the courageous journey of the Irish people to the United States.

Cited: Rhode Island Famine Memorial

Philadelphia Famine Memorial
Philadelphia Famine Memorial

Philidelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

The Irish Memorial Monument opened to the public on October 25, 2003 and is dedicated to the memory of more than one million innocent men, women and children who perished during the years 1845 to 1850 and to the millions of Irish immigrants who came to the United States of America to find the freedom, liberty and prosperity denied to their ancestors in Ireland.

Cited: The Irish Memorial at Penn's Landing

The Oregon Irish Potato Famine Memorial.
The Oregon Irish Potato Famine Memorial.

Portland, Oregon, USA

Many Irish Famine immigrants who immigrated to America traveled the Oregon Trail to Portland, or sailed by ship around the Horn. Between 1850 and 1880, the Census records show that the Irish were Portland’s largest foreign born group, comprising almost ten percent of the City’s population.

The Oregon Irish Potato Famine Memorial was commissioned by Portland’s Ancient Order of Hibernians to promote awareness and understanding of the Irish Potato Famine, An Gorta Mor.

The Memorial, located at Mount Cavalry Catholic Cemetery, was dedicated Saturday, December 13, 2008 by Mary McAleese, President of Ireland.

Cited: Oregon Irish Famine Memorial

Irish Famine Film by Pathe News 1905

A short film produced by Pathe News around 1905 that brought attention to famine in Ireland in that year. The film has been altered and is used to draw similarities to the early famine of 1846-50.

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Irish in America Today

Irish Americans are citizens of the United States who can trace their ancestry to Ireland. The Irish population in the United States is roughly six times the current population of Ireland.

In a 2008 American Community Survey conducted by the US Census Bureau an estimated 11.9% of the population reported Irish Ancestry, roughly 36,200,000. Another 3.5 million identified themselves as Scotch Irish.


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