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.
Boston Art Commission: