National Famine Commemoration 2020


2020 National Famine Commemoration Ceremony
17th May 2020 
St. Stephen’s Green,

The 2020 National Famine Commemoration was held at the Edward Delaney monument in St. Stephen’s Green on   Sunday, 17th May. The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan T.D. presided at the ceremony which was conducted in line with current health and safety guidelines and was therefore not open to the public. The ceremony which was intended to take place in Buncrana Co. Donegal has been deferred until 2021.

As in previous years, the Commemoration included military honours and a wreath laying ceremony in remembrance of all those who suffered or perished during the Famine. Wreaths were laid by Minister Madigan on behalf of the Irish People and by His Excellency Jude Thaddeus Okolo, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, on behalf of the Diplomatic Community.  Prayers for the victims of the Famine were offered by Fr. Séamus Madigan, Head Chaplain to the Defence Forces.  The attendance also included the Lord Mayor of Dublin Councillor Tom Brabazon and the Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Mark Mellet, as well as members of the Delaney Family.

Minister Madigan also unveiled a Plaque marking the first Annual Famine Commemoration held in the Custom House in 2008, which will be installed in the grounds of the Custom House later in the year.  Aimee Banks, a young soprano from Moycullen, Galway, sang Brendan Graham’s ‘Crucán na bPáiste’ and the National Anthem was performed by an Army Piper.  Proceedings were live-streamed, both nationally and internationally, on RTÉ News Now, on and on the RTÉ Player.

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan T.D. officiates at the National Famine Commemoration Ceremony in St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin, 17 May 2020

Speaking on the day, Minister Madigan said:

“In her poem Quarantine, the late Eavan Boland movingly evoked the efforts of a loving husband to support his wife with the last of his strength:
“She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.”

The heroes of the Famine that we honour today also sought to lift and carry those who fell or could not keep up.  That same human spirit of caring and self sacrifice that is embedded in the caring professions across the world is being seen again today as we see our modern day heroes face up to the task of caring for those affected by Covid-19.  We honour and respect these modern day heroes and value their courage.  Perhaps we can best show our appreciation for these modern heroes and those of the Famine Era, by adhering to those small acts of heroism we are called upon to perform in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to come though these testing times as our forebears once did.”