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Mass grave site of famine victims 'needs memorial'

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Michael Blanch at Glasnevin

Michael Blanch at Glasnevin

Michael Blanch at Glasnevin

A GROUP established to advocate for the memory of victims of the Great Famine is pushing for the inclusion of a memorial at Glasnevin Cemetery.

The Committee for the Commemoration of the Irish Famine Victims (CCIFV) organised a 'day of enlightenment' at the cemetery yesterday.

Chairman of the group Michael Blanch told the Herald that Glasnevin was at the epicentre of the famine.

"It is one of the biggest mass graves for victims of the Great Famine in the world," he said.

Buried

"Over one million people died in the Great Famine and many of them are buried in large unmarked graves," he said.

Mr Blanch's group had previously campaigned for a famine memorial day, which was introduced by the Government in 2008.

"There was never a wake for the famine victims. They were buried in mass graves, they were buried in ditches and this will actually now be the wake that didn't happen at the time of the tragedy," he said at the time.

As part of the group's current campaign, a letter was hand delivered to the Glasnevin Trust, to allow for the installation of a humble white stone monument to mark those that died in the famine.

"We have sent in the dimensions, it's similar to the memorials that you would see for World War One," he said.

Mr Blanch pointed out that the cemetery was built as a place where both Catholics and Protestants could bury their dead, following a campaign by Daniel O'Connell.

The proposed monument has already been built with money from the American Irish Funds .

It has been inscribed in commemoration to those that died in the famine from 1845 to 1851.

Between 1841 and 1851, an estimated 32pc of the county's population disappeared, either through death or emigration.

There are a number of famine memorials around the country and a National Famine Museum in Roscommon.

Asked if the proposed monument would go ahead, a spokesperson for the trust told the Herald that all legitimate proposals would be considered.

"Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum are open to consider any and all requests for commemorations or monuments to be erected as long as they are from a properly structured and financed organisation," a statement said.

The trust, which is known for its upkeep of a wealth of valuable historical data, said that it was difficult to provide exact figures for the number of famine victims buried at the site.

victims

"We cannot provide exact numbers of victims of the Irish Famine who are buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

"This is because there was no formal note on death certificates relating to starvation or the Irish Famine being the cause of death on death certificates," it said.

However what documents have revealed is that there was a significant and notable increase in the number of deaths and escalation in burials at the cemetery between 1842 to 1847, the time of the famine - An Gorta Mor in Irish.

hnews@herald.ie


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