Famine Memorial at Sligo

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The Memorial at the Harbour


The statue below is a memorial in bronze, erected at Sligo Harbour in 1997 to mark the 150th anniversity of 'Black '47'. The family are shown comforting one another, and the child points to the New Land to which they will sail. More than 30,000 people left Sligo for new lives abroad between the years 1847 and 1851. This sculpture is one of three commissioned by the Sligo Famine Commemoration Committee.

In the background, a plaque displays a 'Letter to America, January 2, 1850'. Owen Larkin did not know, when he wrote the letter, that his son was already dead.

I am now I may say alone in the world all my brothers and sisters are dead and children but yourself... We are all ejected out of Mr. Enright's ground the times was so bad and all Ireland in such a state of poverty that no person could pay rent. My only hope now rests with you, as I am without one shilling and as I said before I must either beg or go to the poorhouse... I remain your affectionate father Owen Larkin be sure answer this by return of post.


Famine memorial at Sligo harbour

The Famine Graveyard


The Faoin Sceach sculpture by Fred Conlon was erected in 1997 by the County Sligo Famine Commemoration Committee. More than 2000 famine victims were buried at the Famine Graveyard of St. John's Hospital in Sligo. Conlon chose 'a lone bush as a suitable memorial for the famine dead. This bush was regarded as a sacred object in rural Ireland. No farmer would cut it down lest it would upset the spirits. During famine times many starving people lay down under it to die or were buried there. The tree was a sacred marker or protector the unnamed dead'.

The plaque beside the statue reads:

Reilig an Ghorta Mhóir. You are entering a long abandoned Famine Graveyard. Here ends 'Casan na Marbh', Pathway of Death, so named because unnumbered thousands perished following its grim passage from rotted fields to odious workhouse to ignominious burial.

May they feel the warmth of a tear!
May they hear the piper's lament,
May they know we, the survivors, keep vigil.

Faoin Sceach sculpture

A narrow path leads to the Children's Burial Ground, a shadowy grove marked by a Celtic cross mosaic.

Children's Burial Ground

Cross mosaic


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