Wednesday 16 January 2019

President to remember Famine victims in Cork

UCC set to host state Famine commemoration

President Michael D. Higgins
President Michael D. Higgins

Bill Browne

The atmospheric surroundings of the Quadrangle in the heart of University College Cork will be the focus of events next weekend under the umbrella of the 2018 National Famine Commemoration. 

On Saturday Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D. Higgins will attend a formal state ceremony at UCC, hosted by Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, at which he will lay a wreath on behalf of the people of Ireland in memory of those who suffered or died during the Great famine. 

The event will also incorporate musical performances by a number of well-known ensembles and musicians including the Vanbrugh, Niall Valley, Bríd McGowan, Karan Casey and the Cork Penny Dinners/High Hopes Choir with the UCC Choir and Choral Society. 

Composer Sean Doherty has composed two new works, 'Fr McCarthy's Lament 1847' and 'Professor Boole's Farewell' for the occasion and UCC president Professor Patrick O'Shea will read a poem collected in the US in 1906, by Irish scholar and first President of Ireland, Douglas Hyde recounting an emigrant's forlorn trip from Galway to the USA.  

The ceremony, which will be open to the public, will commence at 2pm and run until 3.30pm,with those wishing to attend requested to arrive at UCC before 1.15pm. 

Saturday will also see the opening of An Bothán, a replica of a typical mud cabin from the Famine period offering visitors the chance to experience the horrific conditions that poor people were forced to live in at the time. On Sunday, President Higgins will unveil a commemorative plaque at St Joseph's Cemetery in Ballyphehane, which includes a number of famine burial plot. 

As part of the 2018 commemoration Minister Coveney will also launch 'The Great Famine Online' a ground-breaking digital project that will give users free access to interactive maps containing detailed information on the often devastating impact the famine on each 3,000 parishes and 1,600 towns across the island of Ireland. 

In the lead up to this weekend both Cork City and county Council's have arranged a variety of events taking place at different locations including famine walks, lectures and a famine exhibition in Cork City Library featuring visual panels and fascinating extracts from contemporary accounts of the Famine published in the Cork Examiner, Cork Constitution and the Illustrated London News. 

The Cork Public Museum is also currently hosting an exhibition with artefacts including letters from Fr Matthew and a letter to the Duke of Wellington outlining conditions in West Cork. 

For a comprehensive guide of all events taking place under the auspices of the 2018 National Famine Commemoration follow the link at