Mayo 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 said.

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 year.

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