Skibbereen, Co. Cork (1996)

Famine memorial
Abbeystrowery Cemetery
Created by: Maurice Murphy Monumental Sculptors (Drimoleague)
Commissioned by: Irish Famine Commemoration (Skibbereen) Ltd.

Several post-1990 memorials and plaques are located on the grounds of Abbeystrowery Cemetery, used as a mass graveyard during the Famine, including high cross monument, grave slab monument, and wall plaques.

Wall plaque 1:
Oh son, I loved my native land, with energy and pride / Til a blight came over all my crops, my sheep and cattle died / My rent and taxes were to pay, I could not them redeem / And that’s the cruel reason why I left old Skibbereen.

Happier were the victims of the swords / Than the victims of hunger / Who pined away, stricken by / Want of the fruits of the field

Ireland’s worst single disaster, the Great Famine, 1845-1850, / resulted in the deaths of over a million of it’s people, / with more than another million consigned to the emigrant ship. / Skibbereen, epicentre of this horror, suffered more than most / other places and here, in the Famine Burial Pits of this cemetery, / were placed the coffinless remains of c. 9,000 victims, / a chilling reminder of man’s inhumanity to man.

Go ndéana Dia trócaire orthu.

Wall plaque 2:
Dr. Dan Donovan / (1808 – 1877) / In Memory of / his care and compassion to / the people of Skibbereen / during the Famine years. / Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal. / This plaque was / unveiled by / Dr. John O’Keeffe M.D / on 4th June 2002.

Donations / for / the upkeep / of the / Famine Plot

Monument Inscriptions:
I Gcuimhne na Mílte / A fuair bás go mall righin / sa Ghorta Mhor / I gceanntar an sciobairín / 1845 – 1850. / Go dtuga dia / suaimhneas dá N-anamacha.

A million a decade! – of human wrecks, / corpses lying in fever sheds – / corpses huddled on foundering decks, / and shroudless dead on their rocky beds; / nerve and muscle, and heart and brain. / Lost to Ireland – Lost in vain.

Pause – and you can almost hear / the sounds echo down the ages; / the creak of the burial cart, / the rattle of the hinged-coffin door, / the sigh of spade on earth, / now and again, all day long.

Here in humiliation and sorrow, / not unmixed with indignation, / one is driven to exclaim: / O God! That bread should be so dear / and human flesh so cheap.

1845 – 1850 / To the nameless dead / victims of famine and fever / who lie here in the abbey / and in other cemeteries / and in wayside graves.

Cross inscription:
Erected to / the memory of / all those who are buried / in this / ancient cemetery / Please pray / for the families whose names / are recorded in this / commemoration plot [various names engraved on paving]

Mass grave sign:
In memory / of the victims of / the Famine 1845-48. / whose coffinless bodies / were buried in this plot / […] Dia Trócaire Orta