Public Square

Boston Irish Famine Memorial


I hope you have never known hunger, true and prolonged hunger, which is not the result of being late to a meal or not having cooked yet or gotten to the grocery store; but rather the kind of hunger which comes when there is no food to be had.

Growing up, the Irish Famine was referred to as the potato famine; it lasted from 1845 to 1849. The Irish went hungry; about a million Irish souls lost their lives and another million left Ireland for the United States, many landing in Boston.

Despite being initially greeted by signs which stated that the Irish need not apply, eventually we made our way in America and made meaningful contributions in politics, arts, and industry.



Depicting the Irish Family in America



Depicting the Irish Family in Ireland


From Wikipedia:

“The Boston Irish Famine Memorial is a memorial park located on a plaza between Washington Street and School Street in Boston, Massachusetts. The park contains two groups of statues to contrast an Irish family suffering during the Great Famine of 1845–1852 with a prosperous family that had emigrated to America. Funded by a trust led by Boston businessman Thomas Flatley, the park was opened in 1998. It has received contrasting reviews and has since been called “the most mocked and reviled public sculpture in Boston”. The memorial received praise from many newspapers, including the Quincy Patriot Ledger, which wrote, ‘There are religious and secular monuments to the influence of the Irish all around Boston, but nothing that marks the Gaelic contribution to the city and to this state the way the Irish Famine Memorial will.’”



“The statues are the centerpiece of the park and were sculpted by Robert Shure. The two groups represent two families, one starved and ragged owing to the deprivations of the famine, the other well-fed having found prosperity in America. It is said to emphasize the transformation from an “anxious immigrant” to a “future of freedom and opportunity” in America for the Irish, the first of a long line of immigrants to Boston and America. The sculptures are accompanied by eight narrative plaques. The memorial lies on Boston’s Freedom Trail (across from the Old South Meeting House)and is visited by more than 3 million people per year.”


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