Famine Memorial


Just east of the Custom House is one of Dublin's most thought-provoking (and photographed) examples of public art: the set of life-size bronze figures (1997) by Rowan Gillespie known simply as Famine. Designed to commemorate the ravages of the Great Hunger (1845–51), their haunted, harrowed look testifies to a journey that was both hazardous and unwelcome.

The location of the sculptures is also telling, for it was from this very point in 1846 that one of the first 'coffin ships' (as they gruesomely came to be known) set sail for the USA. Steerage fare on the Perseverance was £3 and 210 passengers made that first journey, landing in New York on 18 May 1846, with all passengers and crew intact.

In June 2007 a second series of Famine sculptures by Rowan Gillespie was unveiled on the quayside in Toronto's Ireland Park by then Irish president Mary McAleese to commemorate the arrival of Famine refugees in the New World.

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