Boston Irish Famine Memorial - Boston, MA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
N 42° 21.452 W 071° 03.522
19T E 330457 N 4691526
Quick Description: This memorial in Downtown Crossing has statues of two families: one family in neat clothing and healthy countenances walking by the second family in tattered clothes and emaciated.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 3/27/2012 5:27:16 PM
Waymark Code: WME2Z3
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member cldisme
Views: 11

Long Description:
In Boston's Downtown Crossing, where Washington Street and School Street meet at a plaza, is a circular brick feature with greenery that surrounds a memorial to those who suffered Ireland's Great Famine.

The memorial consists of two main statues, eight bronze plaques on podiums arranged in two groups of four, and a central bronze disk on the ground.

The two statues on rough granite bases are each of a family of three; each family obviously under different circumstances. One set is of figures in depair, clothed in tattered clothing, and emaciated, looking down. The other set is of figures in better spirits, in clean and neat clothing, with two of them looking forward - and one looking back to the first family.

On the ground, in the center, is a bronze disk with a ship and map showing a ship between Ireland and the Americas, with the following words surrounding it:


"Boston Irish Famine Memorial"

The plaques, summarized here, document the famine and the emmigration from Ireland to Boston. Pictures of the signs that I have are posted. Excerpts are as follows:


"An Gorta Mor

The great famine which ravaged Ireland between 1845-50 was the major catastrophe of the 19th century. It brought horrific suffering and loss to Ireland's 8.5 million people. Over one million died of starvation and disease. Another two million emigrated, seeking sanctuary in Boston and other North American cities. Those remaining in Ireland suffered poverty, eviction, and the decimation of their culture. This memorial remembers the famine, known in Irish as AN GORTA MOR (THE GREAT HUNGER). It depicts the Irish exodus from their homeland, their arrival in Boston and ultimate triumph over adversity in America. It was dedicated on June 28, 1998, as part of the 150th anniversary of THE GREAT HUNGER."


"Dying of Hunger

Starting in 1845, a virulent fungus devasted the potato crop, depriving poor Irish families of their main source of food and subsistence..."


"The People were Gaunt

Starvation and disease spread across the Irish landscape, claiming one million lives..."The features of the people were gaunt, their eyes wild and hollow...wrote Irish novelist William Carleton."


"Boston Sends Help

Citizens of Boston, of all faiths, responded to the deperate plight of the starving Irish..."


"Arriving in Boston

In 1847 alone, 37,000 Irish refugees landed in Boston, on the edge of death and despair, impoverished and sick. "Native Bostonians might have been willing to send money and food to aid the starving Irish as long as they remained in Ireland" wrote historian Thomas H. O'Connor, "but they certainly didn't want them coming to America." The newcomers moved in along Boston's waterfront, packed together in damp cellars and overcrowded hovels. "Children in the Irish district," wrote Bostonian Lamuel Shattuck, "seemed literally born to die.""



"The American Dream

Despite hostility from some Boston-ians and signs of NO IRISH NEED APPLY, the Famine Irish evenually transformed themselves from im-poverished refugees to hard-working successful Americans..."


"Lest We Forget

The commemoration of the GREAT HUNGER allows people everywhere to reflect upon a terrible episode that forever changed Ireland..."


The web page for the memorial on Boston.com does not work beyond the initial page. There is another page from the Boston Art Commission stated that the memorial was meant to show the class structure of Irish society whereby the more fortunate were able to flee Ireland, leaving the poor to suffer and starve and that the "sculpture encourages us to reflect on similarly unjust conditions that persist today."

There are so many people and organized involved with this installation that I won't list them, here. There are pictures that will have the listings, engraved in the granite podiums of the plaques.

The sculptor is Robert Shure.

Other source:

Boston Art Commission:
(visit link)
Disaster Date: 1/1/1845

Date of dedication: 6/28/1998

Memorial Sponsors: Many, including agencies of the City of Boston, Thomas Flatley (Chairman), and a host of partners.

Disaster Type: Sociological

Relevant Website: [Web Link]

Parking Coordinates: Not Listed

Visit Instructions:
A photo of the memorial from a different angle or view than what is already posted is requested. If a camera is not available, please give a detailed description so that we can get an idea of your visit. Please list anything that has changed since the waymark was created.
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