Canada and Ireland

Irish Famine Sculpture, Dublin Docks

Yes, well… emerald green dye is really not my thing, or all that razzmatazz, but on St. Patrick’s Day, I often think of the Irish people who now live in other countries around the world, especially those who were forced to emigrate from “that sore oppresséd island that they call the Shamrock Shore”.

Recently I was at a performance of “Marbhna 1916”, a new requiem composed by Odhrán Ó Casaide, to remember those who died in the Easter Rising.  Kevin Vickers, the Canadian ambassador attended and he told us that on the island of New Brunswick, where he comes from, that there is a Celtic cross in a graveyard and 247 Irish people buried there, people who came across from Ireland during the famine of the 1840s.

About one million people died in Ireland during that terrible famine, just 170 years ago, and another million fled the country on what were called the ‘coffin ships’. The bronze sculptures above (and details below) in Dublin’s Docklands are by Rowan Gillespie and are dedicated to those who were forced to emigrate. This location is a particularly apt as one of the first voyages of the Famine period was on the ‘Perserverance’ which sailed from Custom House Quay on St. Patrick’s Day, 1846.

Irish-Famine-sculpture, dublin docks

Irish Famine Sculpture, Dublin docks

A second series of famine sculptures by Rowan Gillespie was unveiled by President Mary McAleese on the quayside in Toronto in 2007, to remember the arrival of these refugees in Canada.  Canada was very good to us back then and these days they are opening their arms again to welcome in thousands of Syrian refugees.  I wonder when Europe is going to step up to the mark.

By the way, “Marbhna 1916” was being recorded by TnaG. You can listen to a clip at:

and it will be broadcast on Good Friday ( ). Also, you could listen back to Ambassador Vickers on the Marion Finucane show at:

Your comments welcome as always, thanks, eoin



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