Why Glasgow's Irish community needs a memorial for the Great Famine

Why Glasgow's Irish community needs a memorial for the Great Famine

GLASGOW is a city that is home to many Irish-born and locals of Irish descent whose ancestors made the short journey across the water many years ago.

The Great Famine, a devastating period in Irish history, caused over a million deaths and forced a further 1.5 million people to emigrate from the country. It permanently changed the island's demographic, political, and cultural landscape.

But it wasn’t just Ireland that saw significant changes through emigration during the Great Famine years of 1845–1852 – England, Scotland, North America and Australia would never be the same again following an influx of Irish immigrants.

In many of these countries the Irish who perished have been remembered in beautiful memorial statues – over 100 of which have been constructed worldwide – but unfortunately not in Glasgow.

With around 100,000 arriving in Scotland’s largest city and despite initial hostility towards them, as well as dealing with poverty, the Irish demonstrated a tremendous capacity to build local communities.

Those circles remain as strong as ever and members of today’s Irish community in Glasgow have come together to campaign for a long sought-after Famine memorial in the city.

The committee, known as Coiste Cuimhneachain An Gorta Mór (Great Hunger Memorial Committee), are hoping to raise enough funds to erect a permanent memorial they feel is long overdue.

Glasgow Council had agreed to take on the project themselves over three years ago, but progress appears to be limited.

Coiste Cuimhneachain An Gorta Mór officially launched their plans for a memorial last month with a fundraising campaign and the first target of the project is to raise £5,000.

If raised, that money will go towards a design competition which will be open to sculptors and artists at any stage of their career.

The winning design will be chosen by the committee and the funding stage for the project has a closing date of June 30, 2016, or as soon as the team committee their target.

A spokesperson from Coiste Cuimhneachain An Gorta Mór told The Irish Post just how much a memorial would mean to the Irish community in Glasgow: “There are 142 memorials to An Gorta Mór around the world, and to think Glasgow, a city which received some 100,000 starving Irish doesn't have one, is quite remarkable.

“It is massively important, as the Irish Diaspora, that we remember those who perished and our forefathers who were forced to flee their own land through evictions and starvation. With the support of the Irish community in Scotland and further afield we are going to build a fitting memorial to them.”

To donate to the cause visit their website and follow their Twitter account @GortaMorGla for further updates on planned events in the future.