Famine Memorial in Dublin – Walking in Two Worlds

Famine Memorial Dublin IrelandOf all the Famine Memorials I’ve seen in Ireland, the one in Custom House Quay in Dublin’s Docklands is the most moving.  Life-size sculptures of  gaunt, listless peasants stand almost as if in slow motion … wandering down the quay.

Famine Memorial Dublin Ireland

If ever there was a depiction of “walking in two worlds” it here.

Famine Memorial Dublin Ireland

One world reflects the current pulse of Dublin. Business people, tourists, and cyclists move along this path on the north side of the River Liffey at a quick pace. Their intent is focused. Even those sitting on  benches are texting, or chatting on the phone, or reading. Few take notice the bronze faces and bodies – frozen in place.

Famine Memorial Dublin Ireland

The Other world is the world of the famine walkers.  The world of 1845 when Great Hunger began. The walkers move quietly through the chaos of busy Dublin, slowly and deliberately. They plead for help, for food, for shelter from those who have plenty, but are are turned away or ignored…. treat like bothersome pests.

They begged the world to notice them then.  They beg the world to notice them now.

Famine Memorial Dublin Ireland

When the world looked away, they lost their homes, their children died, their families crumbled. They starved.

Famine Memorial Dublin Ireland

Now they are a memory that moves through the veil of time onto Custom House Quay so that we who have much, might be moved.

Famine Memorial Dublin Ireland

One of the first Famine voyages carrying the starving Irish to new lives in America left from the this place. The ship was named Perseverance. It sailed on St. Patrick’s Day in 1846 and landed in New York two months later.

Famine Memorial Dublin Ireland

The bronze figures were designed and crafted by Dublin sculptor Rowan Gillespie, and they were presented to to the City of Dublin in 1997.

Our guests on Thin Places tours in 2014 will visit this Memorial and a few others in Dublin.

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About Mindie

Mindie Burgoyne is a travel writer, blogger and tour guide and tour operatior living on Maryland's Eastern Shore - a worthy destination and thin place in its own right. Mindie and husband Dan own Thin Places Mystical Tours and offer tours, itineraries and advice on visiting Ireland's Thin Places.
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2 Responses to Famine Memorial in Dublin – Walking in Two Worlds

  1. A thoughtful post Mindie. I too was moved by these sculptures when I saw them in 2012. I was in a hurry. I had asked the taxi driver to stop briefly so I could get some photos, in a rush to get to the rental car depot. Looking back, my haste seems almost insensitive. Your observation of the two world’s walking together is so poignant to me now.

    • Mindie says:

      Oh, thanks for the thoughtful comment. I still figure it’s better to see something quickly than not see it at all. So many times I’ve had to rush through a site because I was pressed for time. But luckily I wasn’t pressed here. I had all the time in the world. So glad I did. I was able to really take it in. I’ll be back, and I suspect – so will you, Paddy.

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