Sligo, Co. Sligo (1997)

Three monument commissions (Sligo, 1997):

Faoin Sceach, St. John’s Hospital
Artist: Fred Conlon
Co. Sligo Famine Commemoration Committee

Untitled (graveyard gates), St. John’s Hospital
Artist: Niall Bruton
Co. Sligo Famine Commemoration Committee

Famine Family, Sligo town centre
Artist: Niall Bruton
Co. Sligo Famine Commemoration Committee

Faoin Sceach/graveyard inscriptions
(1) Plaque outside St. John’s Hospital graveyard:
Rielig an Ghorta Mhóir / You are entering a long abandoned Famine Graveyard. Here, / on the grounds of County Sligo’s 1841 Workhouse, lie buried / the ravaged bones of unnumbered thousand nameless souls– / “I witnessed the women and little children, crowds of whome were/ to be seen scattered over the turnip fields, like a flock of / famished crows, devouring the raw turnips, mothers half naked, / shivering in the snow and sleet, uttering exclamations of despair / whilst their children were screaming with huner… / The workhouse is full, and police are stationed at the doors to / keep the numberous applicants out…” / Captain Wynne, District Inspector, Christmas Eve, 1846

Unfed, unwashed, unmourned, / Here lie the remains. / To we, the survivors, the sacred rite of burial, / Into our hands their trampled bones, perpetual vigil. / Sponsored by County Sligo Commemoration Committee.

(2) Plaque by monument:
Faoin Sceach / This Bronze Tree stands as a symbol of dignity. It commemorates the / un-named dead of this area who perished in the Great Famine of 1845-1847. / An Gorta Mór was like a never-ending winter, its chill of desolation brought / hunger, disease and death. / In Irleand the lone tree of “Sceach” was held in a position of high importance from / early Celtic mythology to recent times. The boulder stones surrounding / the base allude to ancient forms of burial / Fred Conlon, Sculptor

“ Mar sceach fé thathalnt na gaolthe / Tá m’anam á lúbadh anocht” / Seán Ó Riordáin, 1817-77 / Commissioned by Co. Sligo Famine Commemoration Committee 1997

Reverse of monument: [Signed] Fred Conlon 1997 / [Plaque] Bronze Art Ltd. / Fine Art Foundry, Dublin

(3) Additional plaque in graveyard:
In sincere gratitude for support received / from the / County Sligo Famine Commemoration / Committee of New York

Famine Family inscriptions
(1) Wall plaque:
Letter to America, January 2, 1850 / ‘I am now I may say alone in the world all my brothers and / sisters are dead and children but yourself… We are all ejected / out of Lord Ardllawn’s ground the times was so bad and all / Ireland in such a state of poverty that no person could pay rent. / My only hope now rests with you, as I am without one shilling / and as I said before I must either beg or go to the poorhouse… / I remain your affectionate father Owen Larkin be sure answer / this by return of post’

(2) Wall plaque:
‘The dead are not far from us.. they cling in some / strange way to what is most still and deep within us.’ / W.B. Yeats

Mindful of those who fled and those who died in The / Great Hunger, please visit the Famine Graveyard at St. / John’s Hospital, restored through the generosity of: / Sligo Corporation / Sligo County Council / The Peace & Reconciliation Fund / North Connacht Farmers / Coillte

(3) Ground plaque:
1847-1997 / The / Famine Family / Niall Bruton, / Sculptor / Sponsored / by / The Kennedy Foundation, / Manchester, / Trustees / Joe and Kathleen Kennedy / Chairperson, / John Gerard Kennedy / Commissioned / by / Co. Sligo Famine Commemoration Committee