National Famine Commemoration Review

National Famine Commemoration - A review

The National Famine Commemoration, which took place recently in Sligo, has been described as “a recognition of the horror that was inflicted on Sligo so long ago,” by a local Sligo historian.

The Famine, which devastated large parts of the country between 1845-’49, resulted in the population of Sligo being reduced by one third. Thousands of people lost their lives through illness and starvation, and thousands more were forced to emigrate, taking the often dangerous journey from the Port of Sligo to seek a better life in England, America and elsewhere. 

Member of the Sligo Famine Committee, Joe McGowan said that  Sligo was “one of the worst affected counties in Ireland. It was absolutely devastating. People died on the side of the road. The hearts just went out of people, it was a great calamity.” 

Speaking in a video produced by Sligo County Council to mark the National Famine Commemoration, Mr. McGowan says that despite the Famine being largely forgotten for many years, it is of great significance that the National Famine Commemoration was brought to Sligo this year, and he hopes that it will encourage people in the county to engage with our Famine past. 

“It’s a proud day that the Famine Commemoration has come to Sligo,” he said. He adds that for the Sligo Famine Committee, it was important that book of the county’s famine history – which they compiled 20 years ago - was reprinted as part of the event. 

“Once Sligo County Council told me that they were going to republish the book, I thought that’s fantastic to have that book in circulation again.” Having the commemoration take place in Sligo was “an affirmation of the work that was done then and a recognition of the horror that was inflicted on Sligo so long ago.” 

The Sligo Famine Book is available free to the public. Copies can be picked up at Sligo County Council, Riverside, Sligo, while stocks last. It provides a detailed insight into the tragic history of the Famine in Sligo, and draws on much of the printed source material of the time. 

The National Famine Commemoration video was produced by Sligo-based production company Omedia in conjunction with Sligo County Council.