Memorials and Commemorations

One way that artists try and commemorate the individuals from the Irish famine is through memorials. The vast variety of memorials that were built for these people are in a great abundance. One of the most meaningful memorials that was built for the Irish people is now located in Bailick Park, in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland called Kindred Spirits. The memorial was built in the year 2015, only about 3 years ago, by the sculptor Alex Pentek. The memorial consists of nine stainless-steel feathers all proposed in a circle to try and symbolize a soup bowl to represent the need for help and assistance for the

Explanation of the struggles the Choctaw tribe had gone through, and was still able to donate to the people during the Irish famine.

need for food. Alex Pentek is an Irish artist who has a growing portfolio of national and international work that explores different site specific ideas in a broad range of materials. With over 20 large scale permanent works completed in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Canada, long time interests in science, origami and music inform Pentek’s work on both practical and philosophical levels. This memorial also symbolizes the help that the Irish people had gotten from the Choctaw tribe during the famine. The assistance of these individuals was a very crucial part in the famine history because almost a decade before the tribe had made the donation to the irish people they were being forced out of their homeland to walk almost 1,200 miles of land because the United States did not think they were fit to be there anymore. This movement was called the Trail of Tears. Even though the Choctaw tribe was still not stable themselves from the Trail of Tears, they knew what it felt like to be in need and having to leave their homeland. They donated anywhere between $4,500 to $10,000 US dollars to the Irish people. Since we have talked a lot about NYC, we might also want to look at the memorial that is posted in Battery Park, NYC. The Memorial represents a rural Irish landscape with an abandoned stone cottage, stone walls, fallow potato fields and the flora on the north Connacht wetlands. It is both a metaphor for the Great Irish Famine and a reminder that hunger today is often the result of lack of access to land. The 96’ x 170’ Memorial, designed by artist Brian Tolle, contains stones from each of Ireland’s 32 counties and is elevated on a limestone plinth. Along the base are bands of texts separated by layers of imported Kilkenny limestone. The text, which combines the history of the Great Famine with contemporary reports on world hunger, is cast as shadow onto illuminated frosted glass panels. And as described

Some other events that had happened to the Irish people that unfortunately did not get commemorated, was the Irish Draft Riots that had occurred in NYC. CLICK HERE to learn more on the Draft Riots!

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Potato Blight Disease

Image of a potato leaf that has been infected by the potato blight disease
A split potato that has been infected by potato blight.. does not look appetizing!

Blight is a plant disease, especially one that is caused by fungi such as mildews, rusts, and smuts. It is a rapid and complete chlorosis, browning and then death of plant tissues, such as leaves, branches, twigs, or floral organs. On leaf tissue, symptoms of blight are the initial appearance of lesions which rapidly engulf surrounding tissue. However, leaf spots, may, in advanced stages, expand to kill entire areas of leaf tissue and thus exhibit blight symptoms. The highlands of central Mexico are considered by many to be the center of origin of the disease, although others have proposed its origin to be in the Andes, which is also the origin of potatoes. The color of potato sign is white. People can observe blight produce sporangia and sporangiophores on the surface of potato stems and leaves. Under ideal conditions, the life cycle can be completed on potato or tomato foliage in about five days. Sporangia develop on the leaves, spreading through the crop when temperatures are above 10 °C and humidity is over 75–80% for 2 days or more. This disease in the potatoes caused massive amounts of deaths during the 19th century in Ireland. People were getting sick while eating these infected potatoes, but the majority of people dies from starvation because the potato crop was in such abundance before the blight outbreak, and Irish people were so dependent on the crop. When taken away from them they had nothing else to turn to. 


Because of the potato flight in the 19th century many Irish people suffered from the Irish potato famine. CLICK HERE to learn all about the Irish potato famine that was caused by the blight disease!

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All about the Irish Famine

1845 was the start of the Potato famine in the southern and western areas of Ireland. It is not difficult to understand the reasons for famine in the past centuries was poor technology and static economic systems that hampered human beings from getting access to food. The potato crop became very scarce to the point where individuals were starving because a lot of people were so dependent on the potato for their meals. One of the causes of famine was an imbalance of population with respect to food supply (and could thus be solved by population control methods). Famine could also come from the problem of food distribution and Irish poverty. And while food shortages can certainly cause famines, it does not follow that all famines must necessarily be caused by food shortages. Famine implies that some people do not have adequate access to food, it does not imply that food itself is in short supply. Another known cause of this decrease in the potato crop and the famine was because of the disease called blight. The mould fungus that grew on the undersurface of blighted potato leaves consisted of multitudes of extremely fine, branching filaments, at the tips of which were spores. When mature, these spores broke away and, wafted by the air, settled on other plants, restarting the process of destruction. An important component of the famine history, however, are the structural features of Irish society that made the potato crop failure so devastating:  structural poverty and limited economic opportunity, over-dependence on the potato, limited state intervention, and legal/political processes that encouraged landlords to move starving farmers off the land. Without the potato crop, peasants were unable to pay their rent, and were evicted by their landlords. Although people were starving because they had been so dependent on the potato crop for food, most people who died during the famine died of diseases like typhus and cholera, brought on by their starvation and poor living conditions. In the face of difficulties due to the famine, many Irish people chose to emigrate from Ireland. They went anywhere to the United States to Canada. Irish individuals found better living conditions for themselves and for their families and were able to get new jobs that would assist them on getting back on their feet, from the horrendous amount of poverty that they had during the famine. The population due to the famine had decreased significantly, due to the fact that people were emigrating from the country and people who had suffered from starvation and disease. Irish individuals could not last long in Ireland during the famine because they were so dependent on the potato crop, that when they no longer had it in their availability, they had nothing else to fall back on. 

Resulting in the Irish potato famine, many individuals had made life of the hardships that had occurred during the 19th century. CLICK HERE to learn about commemorations and memorials that have been built for remembrance. 

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