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'The Great Famine was a public health emergency itself' - commemoration proceeds behind closed doors

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The Famine Memorial on the north quay in Dublin. Niall Carson/PA

The Famine Memorial on the north quay in Dublin. Niall Carson/PA

The Famine Memorial on the north quay in Dublin. Niall Carson/PA

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan has hailed the medical workers of the famine who, much like their modern day counterparts, served bravely for the people of Ireland in a national health crisis.

The National Famine Commemoration was due to take place today in Buncrana Co Donegal, but as a result of the restrictions put in place to combat Covid-19, it was held behind closed doors in St Stephen's Green in Dublin city centre instead.

The ceremony, which was not open to the public due to these restrictions, took place at the Edward Delaney Famine Sculpture in St Stephen’s Green earlier today and included military honours and a wreath laying ceremony in remembrance of all those who suffered or perished during the Famine.

Wreaths were laid by Minister Madigan, who is also Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee, on behalf of the Irish people and by the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps on behalf of the Diplomatic Community.

The commemoration will now be held in 2021.

The Fine Gael TD said that she looks forward to the even being hosted in Donegal next year instead, as she honoured the medical workers who served selflessly in a national health crisis during the famine, much like the front line workers battling the coronavirus on a daily basis in Ireland today.

"This year the National Famine Commemoration was to have been held in Buncrana," she said.

"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 hosting the Commemoration next year.

"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 of 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 waivered and we see the same qualities of courage and commitment to others in our healthcare staff today.”

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