famine cottage now a major NY attraction
The Irish Hunger Memorial at Battery Park City New York,
which was opened last week by President Mary McAleese, has
at its focal point a famine cottage from Mayo which was
dismantled and shipped to America and rebuilt stone by stone.
There to see the dedication of the Famine Memorial were
Chris and Tom Slack from the townland of Carrodoogan, Attymass,
near Ballina, who donated the family cottage to the $5m
project. The three-bedroomed cottage dating back to 1820,
was where they were brought up. They expressed delight at
the finished product.
A sloping field has been created on an elevated site overlooking
the Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island,
with New Jersey in the background. The field has been planted
with grasses reeds, tiny wildflowers and heathers, with
some 62 species imported from Connemara. The land is 'corrugated'
to portray the grassed-over furrows of a potato field.
Hundreds of Irish Americans attended the ceremony, in addition
to those who travelled from Attymass and the Bofield Band
who performed at the event.
President McAleese said we would not forget the tragedy
that brought so many Irish emigrants to America, nor the
generosity of America in embracing our poor restoring their
dignity, and giving our ancestors the opportunity to help
forge the great American nation.
"As we remember the tragedy of the Irish famine, we
must dedicate ourselves to fighting and eradicating the
scourge of hunger in the 21st century," President McAleese
The opening was also attended by Governor George E. Pataki,
whose mother's mother came from County Louth, James F. Gill,
chairman of the Battery Park City Authority, which commissioned
the memorial, and Brian Tolle, the artist who designed the
memorial on the half-acre site, and who said he was inspired
after visiting the Deserted Village in Achill early last
Edward Cardinal Egan did the Invocation, and also present
were Hon. Rudolph W Giuliani, Hon. Michael Bloomberg Mayor,
City of New York and members of Irish Repertory Theatre
who did readings from the memorial wall.
Courtesy of The Western People 2002