Lonely Planet Writer

The world’s largest collection of Great Famine-related art is coming home to Ireland

The world’s largest collection of art relating to The Great Famine is going on display in Ireland on a 12-month tour of Dublin, Cork and Derry. The exhibition, Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger, contains 50 artworks from some of Ireland’s most eminent artists, and it will be unveiled by the president of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, on Wednesday 7 March at Dublin Castle.

James Mahony: The Consecration of the Roman Catholic Church of St. Mary’s, Pope’s Quay, Cork. c. 1842.. Image @Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, Quinnipiac University

The Great Famine was a disaster that hit Ireland in 1845, and it began with the failure of the potato crop. It caused the deaths of around a million people over the course of about six years and up to 2.5 million more left the country. “An Gorta Mór (The Great Famine) was a defining moment in the history of modern Ireland and a turning point in the history of our people,” says President Higgins, in the preface to the exhibition catalogue. “Today we are fortunate to have a great body of scholarship that adds to our understanding of that tragic chapter of our history and provides us with material for reflection, understanding, and, indeed, resolution.”

Lilian Lucy Davidson: Gorta (also known as Burying the Child). Image:  © The Estate of Lilian Lucy Davidson

The 50 artworks are coming from Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. They include paintings by Jack B. Yeats, Dorothy Cross, Paul Henry, William Crozier, John Behan, Brian Maguire, Rowan Gillespie, Micheal Farrell, Hughie O’Donoghue and Alanna O’Kelly. A new painting by Robert Ballagh will also be unveiled.

Micheal Farrell: Black ’47. Image: © The Estate of Micheal Farrell

To mark the collection’s homecoming, a programme of events has been designed that includes children’s workshops, panel discussions and literary and music events. A specially commissioned film for young people, The Hunger Times, will also be launched as part of the programme.

William Crozier: Rainbow’s End. Image: © Estate of William Crozier

Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger will open to the public from Thursday 8 March until June at The Coach House at Dublin Castle, and will move to Uilinn West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen between July and October. Finally, in 2019, it will be on display at Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin in Derry. For further information, see here.