HIGHLIGHTS FROM IRELAND’S GREAT HUNGER MUSEUM’S PERMANENT COLLECTION
Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum investigates the Famine and its impact through art. The museum interprets the Famine visually, allowing artists – both those contemporaneous with the Great Hunger and those working today – to explore the impact of the loss of life, the leeching of the land, and the erosions of language and culture. Through its display of outstanding historical and contemporary images, layers of history are peeled back, to uncover aspects of the Famine indecipherable by other means.
Images summon the past, and can sometimes be a form of evidence that events written about took place. But they do more. The artwork in the museum, by some of the most eminent Irish and Irish-American artists of the past 170 years, such as Daniel Macdonald, James Mahony, Lilian Davidson, Margaret Allen, Howard Helmick, James Brenan, Paul Henry, Jack B. Yeats, William Crozier, Hughie O’Donoghue, Brian Maguire, Micheal Farrell, Glenna Goodacre, Rowan Gillespie, John Behan and Alanna O’Kelly, fulfill one of the obligations of memory, they honor the dead.
AMERICA COMES TO IRELAND’S AID
This temporary exhibit tells the story of Elihu Burritt (1810-79), the “Learned Blacksmith,” who internationalized the 19th-century world peace movement, and brought knowledge of Ireland’s Great Hunger to the American people.
Burritt, who was born in New Britain, Connecticut, arrived in Dublin on February 11, 1847, and visited Kilkenny, Cork, Bandon, Skibbereen and Castlehaven, culminating in the publication of A Journal of a Visit of Three Days to Skibbereen, and its Neighbourhood (1847).
“I can find no language nor illustration sufficiently impressive to portray the spectacle to an American reader,” wrote Burritt, but he did find the words, and his account of the starvation, disease and death of the Irish is most harrowing.