Monday 19 March 2018

Lise Hand: Chill descends as the Great Famine is remembered in quayside ceremony

A sharp, blustery wind gusted along the quayside in Drogheda yesterday afternoon, rattling the tarpaulin-covered stage and sending an unseasonal chill through the large crowd gathered on the dock.

It wasn't a particularly pleasant day. But it was far and distant from the endless winter of despair of Black '47, the grim 12 months of 1847 when 70,000 starving men, women and children had departed from that very quay in Drogheda, fleeing the raging famine which stalked the land and decimated the population.

And so given that the port town has the dubious distinction of being the second largest point of departure for over one million Irish people forced into emigration, Drogheda played host yesterday to this year's National Famine Commemoration. Many who left from the Co Louth port travelled only as far as Britain -- but many others became 'two boaters' and sailed onwards to America.

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