A Galway senator is calling for Arts Minister, Jimmy Deenihan, to officially set a date for the Famine Commemoration Day to not only acknowledge this significant event in Irish history but also to fully capitalise on the forthcoming Gathering events planned for 2013.
Speaking in the Seanad this week, Labour’s Lorraine Higgins urged Minister Deenihan to set the date, and a venue, for this commemoration which is of importance not just to people in Ireland, but further afield, and that 2013 is the time to hold such an event as it is hoped that thousands will visit for The Gathering.
“We are at a period of our time when we are looking to summon the Irish diaspora from all around the globe to our shores to celebrate the Gathering in 2013 and yet we have no date or venue for the National Commemoration of the Famine. This is a huge oversight and we need decisions to be made on this matter as soon as possible.
“Some 167 years ago this very significant event – An Gorta Mor – happened which was a watershed in the history of Ireland. Its effects permanently changed the face of this island’s demographic, political and cultural landscape and its impact and human cost at the time was colossal. Such was the effect it not only left an indelible mark on the Irish psyche but also led to one million dying premature deaths from starvation and disease and one million more emigrating.”
Senator Higgins called on Minister Deenihan to set the date and venue for the commemoration so that those who have worked hard in securing festivities for this and for The Gathering can “link up with the estimated millions of people of Irish descent throughout the globe who would be interested in coming to the birthplace of their ancestors and by default give this economy a much needed shot in the arm”.