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The Irish Memorial of Philadelphia is proud to have been chosen the host of the 2016  International Great Hunger Commemoration. Since 2009, the Irish government has sponsored annual joint commemorations of An Gorta Mor, which led to the deaths of more than a million people in mid-19th century Ireland. One is held in Ireland, the other in a city that opened its arms to some of the more than 1 million refugees who fled Ireland between 1845 and 1852.

This Commemoration pays tribute to those who died, suffered or fled the starvation. It also raises awareness of the problem of chronic hunger, which now affects more than 1 billion  people worldwide.

On behalf of the Irish Memorial Board, we would like to thank the following:

Minister Heather Humphreys, TD
Consul General Barbara Jones
Secretary General Joe Hamill

Lt. Governor Mike Stack
Mayor James F. Kenney
Prof. Christine Kinealy and all of our Presenters
Hon. Pat Dugan

Our very generous sponsors,
great volunteers and everyone that attended our four-day event.




October 6

10:00 AM-Noon-FREE
Hibernian Hunger Project Event

Location: Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs
1936 Judson Street
Philadelphia, PA 19121

Description: The Hibernian Hunger Project is a national project of the LAOH and the AOH that was formed in Philadelphia. In the past we have held “cook-ins” where we have prepared up to 10,000 meals for various shelters, schools, age related charities, etc. We have committed to helping Sister Mary Scullion, Director of Project Home, among other charities. We are going to assemble breakfast and snack packs for families with children.


2:00 PM-4:00 PM-FREE
Student and Educator Session

Documentary Viewing and Q&A with Rebecca L. Abbott, Professor of Communications
Department of Film, Television and Media Arts
Quinnipiac University

Documentary – Ireland’s Great Hunger and the Irish Diaspora, narrated by Gabriel Byrne

Location: Ritz East – 125 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Ireland’s Great Hunger and the Irish Diaspora is a documentary that presents not just the potato failure that lead to mass starvation, death, and emigration in Ireland, but the historical, social and political circumstances that made what is misleadingly called the Great “Famine” almost inevitable. The documentary, which is narrated by actor Gabriel Byrne, views the history of An Gorta Mòr partly through the eyes of descendants of those who survived it, and also descendants of those who fled during it through the Canadian quarantine station at Grosse Ile, Quebec in 1847, and those whose maternal ancestors emigrated to Australia under the Earl Grey scheme, 1849 – 52. The documentary is filmed and edited by Rebecca Abbott and co-produced by Liam O’Brien, both of Quinnipiac University’s Film, Video & Interactive Media Department.

6:00 PM-9:00 PM
Public Session and Opening of Conference

Location: Ritz East, 125 S. 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Welcome: Kathy McGee Burns, President of the Irish Memorial
Opening remarks: Honorary Co-Chairs: James F. Kenney, Mayor of Philadelphia; Barbara Jones, Consul General of Ireland; Professor Christine Kinealy Phd, Academic Advisor to the 2016 Great Hunger Symposium and Director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute, Quinnipiac University

Documentary viewing and Q & A

Reception: light hors d’oeuvre and drinks by The Plough and the Stars

Candlelight march to the Site led by Emerald Pipe Band

Blessing of the Irish Memorial by Rev. Edward Brady and others

At site: Traditional Irish Music by Glengesh

For tickets to the Ritz Theatre Event – Ireland’s Great Hunger and the Irish Diaspora, please click here.

October 8

10:30 AM
Men’s Gaelic Football | The Eddie Fitzsimmons Cup at the Limerick GAA Field
Irish Born footballers  Vs. American Born footballers

Opening Ceremony will begin at 10.30 am, which will include;
Introduction: Gerard Dillon – Philadelphia GAA Senior board chairperson
Remarks from: Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys
The Irish and American National Anthems

The game will begin at 11:00 a.m.

Location: Limerick GAA Field, 485 Longview Road, Pottstown, PA 19468

October 7

9:00 AM-11:30 AM – FREE
Hunger on Trial:
An Activity on the Irish Potato Famine and Its Meaning for Today Hon. Patrick F. Dugan, judge, Philadelphia Municipal Court, and various attorneys and law students

Location: Court Room 676
City Hall – 1 Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Authored by Bill Bigelow, Curriculum Editor – Rethinking Schools magazine and author or co-editor of several Rethinking Schools books: Bigelow lives in Portland, Oregon, and has taught high school social studies since 1978.

Overview: By Mr. Bigelow: “Somewhere back in school, I learned about the 19th-century Irish Potato Famine: More than a million people starved to death when blight hit Ireland’s main crop, the potato. The famine meant tremendous human suffering and triggered a mass migration, largely to the United States. All this is true. But it is also incomplete and misses key facts that link past and present global hunger. Beginning in 1845, blight did begin to hit Ireland’s potato crop, which was the staple food of the Irish poor. But all other crops were unaffected. And during the worst famine years, British-ruled Ireland continued to export vast amounts of food.

In approaching the potato famine in my global studies class, I wanted students to see that hunger is less a natural phenomenon than it is a political and economic phenomenon. In 19th-century Ireland, food was a commodity, distributed largely to those who had the means to pay for it. I designed a trial role play to highlight the “crime” of famine and to encourage students to reflect on responsibility for that crime. The Irish Potato Famine lends itself to this teaching strategy, as students could plainly recognize
the enormity of the famine, but the causes for the Irish suffering were not self-evident and required more consideration.

Each group, was charged with the same crime, but for different reasons: You are charged with the murder of one and a half million Irish peasants who died in the famine years of 1846 and 1847. These were needless deaths. Even without the potato, there was more than enough food produced in Ireland during those years to feed everyone in the country and still have plenty left over. The action—or lack of action—taken by your group led to untold misery. You are to blame.”

The groups: British Landlords; Irish Tenant Farmers; Anglican Church; British Government and “Political Economy”- The System of Colonial Capitalism

11:15 AM-2:15PM
Visit to the Irish Memorial

Location: Front Street and Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Presentation: Causes of An Gorta Mor: James J. Murphy, PhD, Director Emeritus, Villanova University’s Irish Studies Program and Philadelphia’s Irish Memorial: James J. Coyne, Jr.,President Emeritus, The Irish Memorial, Inc.

12:30 PM-2:00 PM

Location: Philadelphia Irish Center: 6815 Emlen St, Philadelphia, PA 19119

Featuring Irish Foods (something besides Ham and Cabbage) with traditional Irish Music, Dancers and a poetry and/or prose reading. Additionally we will present and tell the story of the “Famine Pots” and display the one owned by the Irish Memorial, Inc.

2:05-4:05 PM-FREE
Location: Irish Center


The Graphic Novel, The Bad Times: An Drochshaol

Christine Kinealy, PhD, founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute

John A. Walsh, illustrator and graphic novelist

“The Bad Times” tells the tale of the Great Hunger, from the point of view of three teenagers and their dog, Cú, from Kilkee, County Clare in the west of Ireland.

“One of our aims was to bring the story of the Great Hunger to a younger generation,” said Kinealy, who also is a professor of history at Quinnipiac. “It does deal with famine and there is death in it, but we have created something that is very visual and historically accurate. It tells the story of this pivotal event in Irish history in a way that is accessible, attractive and authentic.” http://www.badtimesgraphicnovel.com

6:00 PM-9:00 PM-FREE
Philly Style Irish “Hoolie” Open to all

Location: Irish Center

This event will showcase the County Societies and the various Irish organizations that make the Irish Center their home. Additionally it will feature local musicians, dancers and local foods including a table of Irish favorites prepared by the seniors of the Irish Immigration Center.

There will also be an exhibition by Photographer and Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame Member, Tom Keenan, featuring twenty selected photographs of the Irish Memorial. These prints will be part of a silent auction to benefit the Irish Immigration Center.

October 8

10:00 AM-Noon
The World’s Hunger Memorials
Temple University’s Pauline Hurley-Kurtz, landscape designer for Philadelphia’s Irish Memorial, will be part of this panel exploring other hunger memorials around the world. It will also include Caroilin Callery, head of the Irish National Famine Museum in Strokestown, County Roscommon, and Jason King, developer of the Digital Irish Famine Archive.
Location:The Irish Memorial

12:05-2:00 PM
Lunch on your own. See list of nearby restaurants.

Hedge School
Location: The Irish Memorial Site
This panel harkens back to the open-air schools in Ireland. Experts will be on hand to discuss aspects of The Great Hunger with participants.

10:00 AM-4:00 PM
Academic panels will run concurrently with other events during the day.
Location: Double Tree Hotel by Hilton, 237 S. Broad Street
(Alternate venue in case
of inclement weather.)

6:00 PM-10:00 PM
An Gorta Mor Gala

Join Heather Humphreys, TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Babara Jones, Consul General of Ireland, Hon. Mike Stack, Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania and the Delaware Valley Irish Community in commemorating this seismic event in Irish History – Ireland’s Great Hunger, part of a 4-Day International event. Sit-down dinner, open bar, and Irish entertainment

Tickets: $125.00 per person; $1,250 for a table of 10; $60 for students

Price includes reception, dinner, open bar and entertainment by the Paul Moore Band. Special presentation to the Society of Friends and a silent auction of Tommy Keenan’s 20 best photos of the Irish Memorial benefiting the Irish Immigration Center.

Location: Doubletree Hotel by Hilton

October 9

10:00-11:00 AM
Mass and Blessing of the Irish Memorial
Location: The Irish Memorial

Noon-2:30 PM
Closing Event