Bob Geldof says 1916 Rising was 'nonsense' and Great Famine was true birth of the Irish nation
Life & Style

Bob Geldof says 1916 Rising was 'nonsense' and Great Famine was true birth of the Irish nation

BOB GELDOF has said he believes the Great Famine was the true birth of the Irish nation and "not the nonsense of 1916".

The 67-year-old philanthropist and Boomtown Rats frontman was speaking at the closing of the 'Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger' exhibition in Skibbereen, Co. Cork, and said he found the exhibit "astonishingly painful".

The exhibition has attracted record crowds since it first opened at Dublin Castle in March, before moving to Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre in July.

"When I saw the exhibition in Dublin a couple of months ago, it was astonishingly painful,” Geldof told the crowd in west Cork.

"It’s impossible to describe the actuality of the famine . . . it doesn’t bear thinking about and certainly can’t be reproduced in painting.

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"The rigors of what happened here are so inexpressible".

The Dún Laoghaire native said that people needed to be careful when using stories from 1845-1849 blight "for our own political end" via nationalism and political stances.

He added: "It for me has always been the birthplace of where we are, not the nonsense of 1916.

"When Band Aid and Live Aid happened, it was no accident that this country pro rata gave more than any country in the rest of the world.

"Of course, I’m a Paddy, so that has a lot to do with it. But more to the point, there was an immediate association of understanding of the horror and the consequences of that.”

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Geldof continued to talk about a visit to famine-stricken Ethiopia in 1984.

"What you are aware of is the constant buzzing of flies. The final thing is that this human shifts its life through your fingers, voids itself and is gone.

"How is that expressed in any known medium? It can’t be."

The exhibition - the world's largest curation of famine-related art - was on loan from the Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, United States.

It will open at Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, Derry in January for three months and features works by iconic Irish and Irish-American artists of the past 170 years, such as Daniel MacDonald, Margaret Allen, James Mahony, Lilian Davidson, Howard Helmick, James Brenan, Paul Henry, and Jack B. Yeats.