Listowel remembers Famine dead with plaque on last existing part of workhouse

Dónal Nolan

A plaque commemorating the thousands of lives lost during the Famine was erected at a site where the suffering was at its most concentrated in North Kerry - Listowel Workhouse.

In a deeply moving ceremony on Saturday, members of the Listowel Tidy Towns unveiled an elegant limestone plaque on the wall of the Listowel Hospital Chapel under the group's heritage programme - the last remaining wall of what had been the Listowel Workhouse.

Opened at the outset of the Famine, it struggled to provide even the most basic of sustenance for the thousands of stricken poor of the region, flooding in there at the height of the hunger at an alarming rate.

Though the scenes are almost unimaginable to us now, those who suffered are still in the hearts of North Kerry as the commemoration amply demonstrated.

Three historians who have done so much to outline the Famine story in the region spoke at the event - Listowel's very own John Pierse and Kay Caball and Ballyheigue's Bryan MacMahon; before Tidy Towns chairperson Julie Gleeson unveiled the monument. It reveals how up to 7,000 died there in the years of the Great Famine from 1845 until 1852.