A small Turf Fire Burning…

The jet lag has kicked in and I’m having some exhaustion-related come down from my travels, but before I crash, here are just a few more shots of the amazing and poignant Irish Hunger Memorial in New York City. More photos and tales to come soon as soon as I catch up on my sleep.

 

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It really did feel like Ireland there for a minute…

New York’s little piece of Ireland

In the heart of Southern Manhattan on the bank of the Hudson, a mystical Irish cottage rises out of the ground. It is surrounded by tall buildings and heavy traffic and seems out of place but it is irresistible and it beckons you inside. When you do enter, be prepared – your heart may break due to both the despair and the longing.
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Ireland in the Atlas Obscura

I write for a few places – one of my longtime favorites is the Atlas Obscura which is a combination of an obscure travel guide and a historical Atlas. Their Irish section was woefully sparse before I filled it out (which I am still doing) and sometimes I like to share the entries.

The deserted village of Slievemore was one of the first I knew I had to add when I went to Ireland. We were there in the early hours of the morning and it was pouring down rain but we explored it anyway.

Interesting fact: When you’re deep into the Gaeltacht island of Achill in December, it is important to note that there are no off season accommodations. In fact the Annexe Pub was the only place we could find anyone and the amazing bartender had to call a friend who owns the summer hostel to turn on the heat and give us a room for the night. It was a much appreciated and really lovely thing for him to do for the crazy tourists who were traveling without an itinerary. If you make it out that way, have a pint – the Guinness was perfect – and give him some love from the crazy American ladies that he saved from a freezing storm.

The deserted village of Slievemore

The deserted village of Slievemore

An Gorta Mor

 

So there I was, going for a walk through Dublin in the middle of the night, like you do. I was so focused on the gorgeous ship that I was headed toward that when I bumped into “someone” I apologized. Turns out I was apologizing to the 2nd creepiest set of statues/sculpture that I have ever seen…and I was in the middle of it.

Famine Monument

 

Ireland is a mecca for memorials, historical places and public sculpture, but few are as somber, creepy and potent as the Famine Monument on the bank of the River Liffey in Dublin.

The Famine Memorial sculpture was created by Rowan Gillespie and unveiled in 1997. The sculptures consist of emaciated men and women trudging along the banks of the river, with various expressions of sadness, despair and determination. To really drive the point home, the bronze sculptures also include a starving dog walking behind the people. They are one of the most photographed public art pieces in all of Ireland and to stumble across them after midnight on a long night in December was disconcerting to say the least.

This sculpture is a permanent memorial to the many people who emigrated because of Ireland’s Great Famine. It’s built on the departure site of the Perseverance, one of the first famine ships to leave the area in 1846. The ship’s captain was a 74 year old man who quit his office job to transport the starving people from Dublin to America. All passengers arrived safely and the Perseverance was one of the first of thousands of ships to make that epic crossing. Statistics estimate that even today there are more Irish people living outside of Ireland than within its borders, and this haunting piece is a stark reminder of when that emigration began and why.

Just a few steps away from the sculpture is a tall ship moored in the water that is set up as a famine museum. The Jeanie Johnston is a replica famine boat and is a fitting backdrop for the memorial statues. They are gorgeous, haunting and creepy and if you have a chance to visit them, do so.

 

jeanie