Liverpool, England (1998)

Liverpool Famine Memorial
Site of St. Luke’s Church, corner of Berry Street and Leece Street
Artist: Eamonn O’Doherty
Commissioned by: The Great Famine Commemoration Committee Liverpool

Inscription on front of memorial:
Coínnich cuimhne ar an Gorta Mór 1845-52 / Remember the Great Irish Famine 1845-52

On plaques 1 and 2 (trans. in Irish on 2):
Between 1845 and 1852 over one million Irish people died from starvation and disease. A further one million emigrated. Ireland remains the only country in Europe where the population today is less than it was in 1845.

The causes of the famine were rooted in earlier centuries. Following colonisation the English authorities divided the land between a small number of landlords. By the 1840s large numbers of the dispossessed lived in extreme poverty. When their staple crop, the potato, became diseased in 1845 it was catastrophic for them. Crop failures and famine continued for nearly a decade. The authorities offered little assistance. Hundreds of thousands emigrated every year.

Between 1849 and 1852, 1,241,410 Irish emigrants arrived in Liverpool. With no help from government, relief was provided by the town through local rates. Many Liverpool citizens gave generously to help the sick and the starving.

In Liverpool parish in 1847 alone, over 7,000 paupers were buried in mass graves. Thousands more were buried in surrounding parishes. Amongst the victims were many who worked to help the sick, including Catholic and Protestant clergy, Christian Brothers, relieving officers, doctors and nurses, From Liverpool, thousands of Irish emigrants dispersed to destinations around the world.

The descendants of Irish migrants who remained in Liverpool have made a distinctive contribution to the multi-cultural heritage of the city. They included people from all walks of life, in particular dock work, medicine, education, religion, commerce, sport and the arts.

This sculpture is dedicated to the memory of all the Famine emigrants. Let us acknowledge their suffering. Let us continue the work of helping those displaced by famine and disease in many parts of the world. Let us dismantle those systems which still cause suffering.

This sculpture is by Eamonn O’Doherty
November 1998